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.

Making Social Change: Case Studies of Nonprofit Service Providers

Building Movement Project developed this set of case studies as a response to numerous requests from groups looking for real-life examples of the often-challenging process of incorporating social change models into social service work. These case studies, geared toward practitioners, board members, and funders interested in this work, are designed to complement one of our other landmark Building Movement publications: Social Service and Social Change: A Process Guide (2006).  The five case studies in this publication offer examples of organizations that are integrating social change activities into their work.


Criteria for Setting Priorities for Policy/Program Work

Based on an actual document developed by a service agency, this is an example of a set of criteria that an agency might use to assess which policy campaigns are a match for the agency.


Evidence of Change: Exploring Civic Engagement Evaluation

Building Movement, the Alliance and the Ms.Foundation were all part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Civic Engagement Learning Year
in 2008. As part of the project, groups who formed partnerships were eligible for small Connect Grants. The three groups received a grant to hold a summit with practitioners, researchers, intermediaries and funders to look at civic engagement impact measurement and dialogue with other organizations.

This report presents a brief summary of the key findings that came out of the Civic Engagement Evaluation Summit. It also examines how organizations currently view their relationship with impact measurement. It then ends with a set of recommendations for how to increase the nonprofit sector’s capacity to respond to the increasing need for tools to measure the impact of civic engagement and social change work.


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.