Many problems faced by constituents and communities could be eased or solved with changes in policies, laws, administrative mandates and other systems. Systems change efforts require long-term commitment and often include a variety of partners ranging from advocates to organizers to providers, with a clear understanding of the roles each plays. The tools for this section focus on building organizational knowledge and capacity to engage in social change and to expand leadership capacity of constituents as allies. Organizations that have the tools to conduct root cause analysis, have the knowledge about the rights and limits of advocacy activities, and have the ability to promote civic engagement as a key for leadership will see their work as a part of the spectrum that includes direct community action. Learn more in the Social and Systems Change section of the Nonprofits Integrating Community Engagement (NICE) Guide.

Integrating Civic Participation Strategies into Service Delivery

This toolkit was designed to support the NCLR Latino Empowerment and Advocacy Project (LEAP) to measurably increase Latino electoral participation, but it can be applied to any social service/social change group seeking to increase civic participation as part of their organization’s work. Included are a variety of tools including surveys, intake forms, flyers, workshop guides, and petitions to assist in the integration process.


Common Good Message Box

This agenda and worksheet can be used to create a “common good” message for a community issue or concern. This tool can be a useful first step towards crafting new messages about the problems we confront in our work for social change. Use it to develop values-based messages, and reframe the issues that matter to your group.


Theory of Social Change

This discussion guide and exercise applies an adapted version of this familiar framework to your organization in order to help participants consider how service work differs when it incorporates social change goals. Both types of planning and impact are important.


Nonprofits and Lobbying

This document provides the lobbying rules for nonprofit, 501(c) (3) organizations.


Vote with your Mission Campaign Kit

These materials, provided by California Nonprofits, help organizations promote civic engagement and leadership.


Evaluation for Strategic Learning

This paper makes the case for the value of using evaluation to inform strategic learning. Organizations that are set up for learning will make the best use of this type of evaluation approach.


Advocacy Evaluation Case Study

This case study provides an example of an evaluation of the Chalkboard Project’s civic engagement efforts.


An Advocacy Theory of Change

This tool can be used to design an “advocacy” theory of change. It leads a group through six questions for discussion, provides facilitation tips, and several graphic representations of what final strategies might look like.


A Practical Guide to Evaluating Systems Change in Human Services Systems

This Guide is for practitioners and evaluators who would like a practical way to think about systems and systems change. The author presents a framework (page 4) that looks at the collaborative group as a way to organize for systems change – not the change itself.


Case Study: Deriving Power from Constituents

This case study describes a move to build leadership within the organization that not only reflects the community it served, but to become that community.