Participation has long been considered important for post‐disaster recovery. Establishing what constitutes participation in post‐disaster shelter projects, however, has remained elusive, and the links between different types of participation and shelter programme outcomes are not well understood. Furthermore, recent case studies suggest that misguided participation strategies may be to blame for failures. This study analysed 19 shelter projects implemented in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 to identify the forms of participation employed. Using fuzzy‐set qualitative comparative analysis, it assessed how household participation in the planning, design, and construction phases of shelter reconstruction led to outcomes of household satisfaction and safe shelter design. Participation was operationalised via eight central project tasks, revealing that the involvement of households in the early planning stages of projects and in construction activities were important for satisfaction and design outcomes, whereas engagement during the design phase of projects had little impact on the selected outcomes.