A guide to community mapping

The success of the United for Warm Homes campaign is reliant on building strong partnerships within your community. This guide explains how to map potential partners to work with on your campaign.

12 Sep 2022

In order to build a strong coalition, you need to have a good understanding of your local context and how different demographics are impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. 

Community mapping is an exercise used at the beginning of a project to help identify potential partners in the area, whether that’s individuals, organisations or groups. For the United for Warm Homes campaign, a community map might include:

  • tenants' associations
  • faith groups
  • food banks
  • charity shops.
A group of 4 women at a food bank organising donation
Food bank volunteers organising donations © SolStock via Getty Images

A good community map is critical to the success of your campaign, so take the time at the beginning of your campaign journey to carry out this exercise as a group. It’ll help you: 

  • identify potential partners 
  • highlight gaps in your understanding of the community and the support and services that already exist
  • lay the foundation to your campaign plan. 

Map who you know

Individually list as many groups and organisations you can think of. You could write these on post-its if you’re doing the exercise in person. 

Top tip: Don’t just put down groups of people you know well. The idea is to include as many groups in your community as you can at this stage, thinking beyond the usual suspects to widen your connections. 

Come together as a group and collate your lists. There’s likely to be lots of overlap and repeated organisations. Group the examples under obvious themes, ie “housing groups” or “charity shops”.

If you’re hosting this meeting online, you can carry out the exercise using Google jamboard or Google docs. 

Broaden your thinking

Now you’ve done your initial brainstorm, take a look at the below categories to see if it prompts you to add any more. 

  • Faith groups (mosques, churches, synagogues).
  • Service providers (food banks, Citizen’s Advice).
  • Community groups (social clubs, women’s unions, cultural associations, mutual aid groups).
  • Groups that work with a specific demographic, including: LGBTQ+ people; women’s organisations; a specific age group eg, youth clubs, students' unions, seniors’ groups; disabled people; people of colour and other marginalised ethnicities.
  • Educational establishments (schools, colleges, universities).
  • Local groups that campaign on specific issues (anti-racism, housing, health, poverty).
  • Housing and resident groups (tenants associations, housing unions).
  • Community Energy Groups. 
  • Local businesses.

It’s particularly important that you reach out to local groups and organisations that represent people most impacted by high energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis, to make sure their voices are central to the campaign from the beginning.  

If there are gaps and you can’t think of relevant groups based on the categories above, do some research to find if there are groups working in this area you might not know about. 

Add detail to each group

Quickly organise what you know about each group to help you prioritise who to contact. This will be a good base to work from when you start contacting the people on your map. 

To do this, create a table with key headings and fill in what you know about each group. For example: 

Template of a table for conducting a community mapping exercise
Template of a community mapping table © Friends of the Earth

Prioritise who to contact

Consider the following to help you prioritise who to reach out to:  

  • Who on your map works with people experiencing fuel poverty? This might be by providing direct support, or working with a specific demographic who we know are most vulnerable to the impacts of the crisis, including people with disabilities, young people and people of colour. 
  • Are any of the groups involved in community outreach programmes and have regular contact with members of the public? 
  • Which groups don’t you have a connection to yet and might be a good contact to broaden your network? 

As a group you can circle the organisations you think best meet these criteria and prioritise them as the first groups to reach out to. 

Start building relationships

Once you’ve got your list, it’s time to start building relationships. Find out more about how to reach out and start the conversation.