Have you ever wondered why people participate in communities? Or how that community came to be in the first place? Social psychologists, McMillian and Chavis explain that a sense of community is formed when members feel that they belong, matter, and share the same faith. McMillian and Chavis explain that there is more that goes into a community than just a simple definition. The following are four factors that contribute to creating a sense of community. As you read, reflect on whether your own community posses these factors.

1. Membership

When you have a membership to a group, you have a feeling of belonging. The people within your community should share similar interests or views as the other members.McMillian and Chavis state that communities often come with boundaries. Boundaries help to create a higher level of trust between members and to make sure that anyone who joins is a good fit.

2. Influence

The second factor of community is influence or rather a sense of mattering. Members of an organization should feel as though they have influence over the community and vice versa. As you create a community, form an environment where your members have a say in what happens. The community should be something that its members care about and adds value to their lives.

3. Fulfillment of Needs

By joining a community, a member should receive what they hoped for by joining. Like any product, your community should solve a problem or provide a purpose for its member to make it worth their time and dedication.

Members should feel rewarded by participating in a community in order for them to continue to be active. A reward could range from a support network to conversation to inspiration.

Be sure to talk to your members to get the best idea of who they are and how the community can best serve them.

4.  A Shared Connection

When looking at a healthy community you will notice that there is often a story on how they formed or what hardships they have experienced. Shared experiences have the ability to form a strong emotional bond between members. Often when a community goes through a crisis, they rely on one another to make it through the tough time.

After reading what four factors create a community, do you find that your own community posses these factors? If not, utilize this knowledge as you build and develop your community.