The Community Canvas
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!
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.
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”.
All Community Canvas documents are released under Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA 4.0. More about that here.
The 3 Sections and each of the 17 Themes covered in detail with key questions, further background and observations.
Download PDF, 61 pages
- 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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
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 email@example.com or get in touch with us individually below.
Fabian Pfortmüller, Co-Author
Fabian Pfortmüller is an entrepreneur and community builder based in NYC and Mumbai. 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.
firstname.lastname@example.org | @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.
email@example.com | @halbluchs | medium.com/@halbluchs
Sascha Mombartz, Editor & Designer
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.
firstname.lastname@example.org | @supermombartz | officeforvisualaffairs.com