A framework to help you build meaningful communities.


Community Canvas 2.0

We are working on the next iteration of the Canvas and we’d love to include your voice. Tell us about your experience with the Canvas and how we can improve future versions! Read more about the Community Canvas 2.0 project.


The Community Canvas

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We have spent the last 15 years building and participating in communities and found tremendous joy in them. And we have come to realize that while every community is as unique as the humans in it, many of them share a similar, underlying structure.

Based on our own experience and with the generous help of leading community builders, we have identified the first version of this structure and turned it into an openly accessible framework: the Community Canvas.

We hope this will provide a template for people to build more meaningful communities and bring as much joy to your lives as communities have brought to ours!

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Key questions

For each of the 17 themes, we have identified a set of questions that will help find the right answers for your own community. We provide worksheets to make the questions actionable.

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While the Canvas doesn't give answers, we provide further background for each of the 17 themes, based on our observations and feedback from leading community builders. In future versions we're going to include case studies for each theme.


Learn more about the Canvas
Why, how and for whom we developed it, and how we define the word “community”.

Get Started

All Community Canvas documents are released under Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA 4.0. More about that here.

The Canvas and its 3 Sections in a nutshell.

Download PDF, 7 pages

The 3 Sections and each of the 17 Themes covered in detail with key questions, further background and observations.
Download PDF, 61 pages

We created a Minimum Viable Community template, choosing the most crucial 9 questions to start with.

Open Google Doc
Download PDF


  • Answer the questions of the Canvas for your own community.

  • The Visual Summary has all themes and one key question on one page. PDF.

  • The comprehensive Google Doc lists each of the 17 themes with all questions, ideal for choosing what is relevant to your needs and creating your own community strategy.


We've been working with a wonderful team of volunteer translators to localize the Community Canvas. Want to translate it to your language? More info on how to do that here.


Share your Canvas

We are creating an open-source collection of filled out Canvases and hope the real-life examples will support and inspire community builders across the globe. Submit your filled out Canvas here.

Check out some of the ones we've already received here.

Get Involved

Sign Up For Updates

Leave your email if you’d like us to message you when we have a new version available, add case studies and if we create other community building tools. You can, of course, unsubscribe any time and we won’t share this info with anyone.


Join our Community Builder Group

We have created a Facebook Group where we’re bringing together community builders to share ideas, give feedback and learn about each other’s projects.


If you find the Canvas valuable, we'd be grateful for your help in spreading the word about it and reaching more community builders across the globe.


“Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them”

Holstee Manifesto


Improve it & Make it Your Own

We hope that people will take the Community Canvas and make it their own. That’s why we’re releasing it as a Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) – which means you can build upon the material, copy and share it for any non-commercial purpose as long as you give credit to community-canvas.org. If you’re unsure about using it or if you have commercial ideas in mind, please message us at team@community-canvas.org. More details on the license can be found here and all files live in this GitHub repo.

We look at the Canvas as work in progress and we are incredibly grateful for any feedback or advice you might have on how we can improve future versions (and a sincere thank you to everyone who has helped develop it so far).

  • How can we make it more valuable and practical for community builders across the globe?
  • What is working for you?
  • What are we missing?
  • What examples would be useful to include?
  • What communities would make good case studies?
  • What research - academic and otherwise - should we look at for further study?

Please feel free to get in touch and already in advance, thank you!

Get in Touch

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We’re three friends who love building communities and believe they bring something special to the world. We’d love to know what you think about the Canvas and how we can help your community.

Email us at team@community-canvas.org or get in touch with us individually below.


Fabian Pfortmüller, Co-Author

Fabian Pfortmüller is an entrepreneur and community builder based in NYC. He is the founder of the Together Institute, an organization dedicated to strengthening the social fabric of society and he runs COMMUNITY, an advisory firm that helps organizations build meaningful communities. Together with Nico and others he co-founded the community Sandbox, a global community for entrepreneurial people in their twenties. Most recently Fabian co-founded the lifestyle brand Holstee, known for its monthly subscription. Fabian regularly writes about community building topics at www.together.is

fabian@together.is | @pforti | pforti.com


Nico Luchsinger, Co-Author

Nico Luchsinger is a Zurich-based entrepreneur and journalist. He co-founded Sandbox with Fabian, and led the organization until 2013. Currently, he heads up strategy and programming at Asia Society Switzerland, a think-tank focused on exploring Asia’s role in the world.

nico.luchsinger@gmail.com | @halbluchs | medium.com/@halbluchs


Sascha Mombartz, Co-Creator

Sascha Mombartz is a designer and founder of the Office for Visual Affairs – a branding and user experience design studio in New York. Previously he worked at the New York Times and at Google's Creative Lab, before co-founding startups in retail, tech and finally his own studio to work with early stage companies.

s@officeforvisualaffairs.com | @supermombartz | officeforvisualaffairs.com