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.

Building Community from the Inside Out

This report includes two case studies of community building efforts by nonprofit organizations in Detroit and New York City. The two cases profiled here focus on staff and clients, but organizations around the country are innovating to build a sense of community with volunteers and boards as well. Organizations who find inspiration in these examples and new insights from the tools and discussion questions are encouraged to find and develop their own practices.


Nonprofit Service Organizations and Civic Engagement

This report describes what took place during a national convening, held in 2007, on how nonprofit service organizations can support client and constituent civic involvement.


Client Voice and Engagement

When engaging clients or constituents more deeply in the work of your organization, it is helpful to examine not only the ways they are already involved, but also the quality of that engagement. Understanding who has power and how to share it is key to effectively involving constituent voice in your work. This agenda and the accompanying worksheet can help you to delve deeper into individual programs or areas of your work and begin to generate concrete ideas for next steps in engaging clients.


Caught in the Middle: Conflict between Grassroots and Instrumental Forms of Civic Participation

This article explores the various roles of citizen participation in community based organizations (specifically community development corporations). It includes a “Citizen Participation Continuum” which helps organizations and groups understand the source of conflicts between different types of citizen participation and provides organizations with a road map for evaluating programs that promote change in society.


Sources of Power

This handout can be used with organizations working in partnerships. It is helpful to understand the different ways that participation and communication styles can be perceived in groups and encourages users to consider how to share power in order to establish trust.


Developing the Leadership of Recipients

This mini report is part of the 5% shifts series and focuses on the ways in which two nonprofit organziations are working towards leadership development.


Exploring Community Engagement

This is a series of small-group discussion questions for use during an agency retreat or extended meeting that offers a structured opportunity to explore the agency’s potential for community engagement work.


Client Voice and Engagement

This agenda and activity worksheet is designed to identify opportunities for constituents to have more voice and leadership in your organzation and to generate a list of concrete practice shifts that can be proposed to others in the organzation.


Shields for Families

This case study tells the story of Shields for Families in Los Angeles that actively integrates social change and service provision by building on the leadership capacity of their clients and staff. Shields creates many opportunities for learning, enagement, and social change efforts that are exemplary. Use this case study to learn from Shields and discuss what would work locally and how to move forward.


From Input to Ownership: How Nonprofits Can Engage with the People They Serve To Carry Out Their Missions

This article is about asking, listening, and more. It looks at how some leading nonprofits are engaging clients, beneficiaries, or residents—their constituents— in order to deliver services more effectively and have more impact on the social concerns they are trying to address.