Service organizations are very often well-practiced in measuring outcomes about individual and/or family progress using an array of assessments that are program related. It is common to ask if a “client” or constituent is better off as a result of services or program participation. It is less likely that the organization measures the impact of constituent engagement in building the organization or in civic engagement activities. While the results of service provision are an important part of the organization’s story, expanding the view to include the impact of constituent engagement contributes to long-term change beyond the individual. The tools in this section are aimed at helping groups and individuals do just that. Learn more in the Constituent Engagement section of the Nonprofits Integrating Community Engagement (NICE) Guide.

Tools to Engage Webinar Series Part 3: A Deeper Dive into Advocacy

Now, more than ever, direct service organizations are being called upon to advocate for individuals as well as for policy change. By integrating service and social change, organizations can continue to effectively provide needed services, while addressing the root causes that make services necessary. You may be wondering:

  • What would integrating service and social change look like for your organization?
  • What are some steps you can take, no matter where you are in the process, to more actively engage your constituents?
  • How can you build on skills you and your staff already have to make a seamless transition to policy advocacy?

To address these, and many more questions, BMP hosted a webinar (part of our Tools to Engage webinar series) to lift up the work one organization is doing to integrate policy advocacy into the work they’re already doing. In an interview with project consultant Judi Sherman, Executive Director of SparkPoint Contra CostaBetty Geishirt Cantrell, shared her organization’s experience of volunteering to engage in a “deeper dive” to assess their capacity to integrate policy advocacy into their current service provision and develop a plan for future action. Takeaways include an understanding of the factors helped make this “deeper dive” a success, how the process changed the organization, and how integrating service and social change might not be such a big leap after all.

Watch the recording here, and download a PDF of the slides.


Power and Constituent Engagement

This worksheet, which some may find helpful to use in tandem with the Sources of Power handout, allows individuals to assess where they personally have power within their organizational context, what power they have in relation to the clients/constituents their organization serves, and what might happen if clients/constituents had more of a say in the organizations.


Deeper Dive into Advocacy: A Case Study on a Service Provider’s Bold Shift to Social Action

Family Economic Security Partnership (FESP), SparkPoint Contra Costa, and the Building Movement Project engaged in a six month process to assess SparkPoint Contra Costa’s interest and capacity to engage in policy advocacy. The resulting case study presents how SparkPoint Contra Costa, a direct service organization, built on its strength as an advocate for individuals to begin advocating for policy and larger system issues. The information includes an overview of types of advocacy and tips and tools for other organizations interested in adding social change activities to their daily practice.


Tools to Engage Webinar Part 2: Barrett Foundation and the Common Good Action Project

This webinar, Barrett House and the Common Good Action Project is part 2 of the Tools to Engage Webinar series. Hear from Building Movement Project consultant Leah Steimel and Connie Chavez, Executive Director of the Barrett Foundation, about the Common Good Action Project in New Mexico and how the Barrett Foundation put lessons from the CGAP cohort into practice to break down silos and transform their Board. Also, learn more about BMP’s Tools to Engage website.


Tools to Engage Webinar Series Part 1: Engage to Change

Maria Mottola, Executive Director of the New York Foundation and Julia Watt-Rosenfeld, Director of Community Organizing and Advocacy at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation join BMP staff for the first Tools to Engage Webinar to discuss the development and implementation of the “Engage to Change” guide.


Engage to Change

Service organizations are meeting the immediate needs of their constituents and provide essential supports. At the same time, many of these groups recognize how larger policies and procedures can make their job harder and limit options and opportunities of their program participants. With increasing inequality, slashes in public budgets, and greater demand on their services, nonprofits are looking for new ways to do their work.

Several years ago, we were struck by the way some of our grantee partners were changing how they saw the people they serve, who are commonly seen as recipients or beneficiaries of the organization’s expertise and services. Instead, a growing number of groups worked with their program participants as partners in making change in their own lives, the organization, and in the surrounding community. We hosted a series of conversations with a dozen New York City nonprofit service delivery organizations to discuss the motivation, benefits, and challenges of embracing this way of engaging clients and community members.

Engage to Change comes out of these discussions and a mapping process to catalogue the varied modes of doing the work. Our conversations were facilitated by the Building Movement Project which has a decade of experience working with nonprofits, especially service providers, on how they can integrate social change practices into their everyday responsibilities. We drew on the design skills of the Center for Urban Pedagogy in order to have a compelling, visual way to explain the changes that are taking place. It offers service providers and funders concrete examples of why meaningful participant engagement makes a difference. We also provide a list of resources that can be helpful for those who want more information.

The set of strategies outlined here describes how some service organizations are integrating social change into their everyday work. Supporting the voice of their service recipients helps participants gain a sense of efficacy and gives organizations new ideas and power to make change.


Engage to Change Video Series: Neighbors Together

Explore how some nonprofits are shifting the way they engage the people they serve. Learn how community members moved from being recipients of expertise to becoming partners in transforming their own lives, the organization, and the surrounding community. In a series of conversations with a dozen New York City nonprofits, hear the motivation behind engaging clients and community members as agents of change in challenging times.

In this video we interview Cynthia Agyemang, Community Organizer & Amy Blumsack, Community Action Program Director with Neighbors Together.


Engage to Change Video Series: Red Hook Initiative.

Explore how some nonprofits are shifting the way they engage the people they serve. Learn how community members moved from being recipients of expertise to becoming partners in transforming their own lives, the organization, and the surrounding community. In a series of conversations with a dozen New York City nonprofits, hear the motivation behind engaging clients and community members as agents of change in challenging times.

In this video we interview John Texidor, Co-Facilitator of Participatory Budgeting & Kiyana Slade, Community Organizer with Red Hook Initiative.


Engage to Change Video Series: Henry Street Settlement

Explore how some nonprofits are shifting the way they engage the people they serve. Learn how community members moved from being recipients of expertise to becoming partners in transforming their own lives, the organization, and the surrounding community. In a series of conversations with a dozen New York City nonprofits, hear the motivation behind engaging clients and community members as agents of change in challenging times.

In this video we interview Jeremy Reiss, Deputy Development Officer & Irene Alladice, community member with Henry Street Settlement.


Engage to Change Video Series: Henry Street Settlement Pt 2

Explore how some nonprofits are shifting the way they engage the people they serve. Learn how community members moved from being recipients of expertise to becoming partners in transforming their own lives, the organization, and the surrounding community. In a series of conversations with a dozen New York City nonprofits, hear the motivation behind engaging clients and community members as agents of change in challenging times.

In this video we interview Talia DeRogatis, Public Policy and Community Engagement Liaison & Gabriella Marrero, a student working with Henry Street Settlement.