Tools to Engage: Resources for Nonprofits

Welcome to Tools to Engage!

We’re so glad you’re here! Tools to Engage is an ever-changing compilation of the best resources from across the social sector, chosen for their particular focus on supporting constituent engagement and addressing systemic challenges, such as race, gender, and power inequities in the sector. These resources are aimed at organizational development experts, management support organizations, and internal and external consultants, but may be used by anyone who finds them useful.

The resources on this site are organized around categories aligned with the Nonprofits Integrating Community Engagement (NICE) Guide, which offers information, tools, case studies and other resources to help nonprofit groups develop core competencies on constituent and community engagement. Use the “Type,” “Category,” and “Keyword” search functions below, or feel free to just browse this collection of over 100 resources designed to help you advance your social change goals.

Please consider commenting on individual tools or in the Forum to let us know your experience with these resources. Access to commenting and to the Forum is restricted to members, but it’s free and easy to sign up!

 

Learning Circles in Culture Change: Why Use It?

This paper gives clear, basic information about the purpose of learning circles. It includes tips for the facilitator, logistics and suggested ground rules. It also offers questions (on the topic) for learning at different developmental stages of the group. Questions can be customized for other groups and topics.


Social Movements and Philanthropy: How Foundations Can Support Movement Building

On page 17 of this report, social service organizations are identified as places that have not been organized to contribute to social change efforts. The author cites the Building Movement Project’s Social Service and Social Change: A Process Guide (http://www.buildingmovement.org/blog/entry/22?news/entry/22) as a tool to increase engagement as well as noting other strategies for recruitment.


New Voices at the Civic Table: Facilitating Personal and Social Change

This article describes six pilot initiatives of the Alliance for Children and Families — New Voices at the Civic Table (New Voices), a philanthropy-funded effort to challenge human service organizations to integrate civic engagement as a permanent part of their infrastructure. All six New Voices models included common elements: leadership training, civic education, experiential learning, participatory decision-making, networking, and reflective evaluation. Each also reflected one of four primary variations to civic engagement based on their community needs and demands: self-efficacy, constituent involvement, mobilizing, and organizing. Results demonstrate that civic engagement in human services not only produces a means for promoting social change but also changes the way participants see themselves in the community.


Queens Community House

This case study describes how Queens Community House in New York, fashioned after the settlement house tradition, offers services and programs to help individuals improve their situation and strengthen their community. It follows the story of Queens Community House from a service provider to a powerful community building organization.


Continuum of Change

This agenda and worksheet can be used to create a “continuum of care” model for your community. This model includes the range of services that would be needed to support individuals and families at all stages, beyond what one organization alone could provide. It is a way to begin identifying partners and allies in your community.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Crafting Powerful Questions

Positive, strengths-based, open-ended questions can all be useful ways to engage with colleagues, clients, volunteers and boards. Asking “why” questions prompts people to make connections, identify patterns, and explore new ideas. Learning the art of crafting questions that open up creative thinking and new ideas is an important way to ensure that conversation isn’t inadvertently shut-down. This agenda and worksheet can help you delve deeper into new questions for your organization to ask about its mission, theory of change and program design.


Measuring Authentic Demand

This excerpt on pages 16 to 25 from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “Sustaining Neighborhood Change” report highlights the importance of data as a tool in the community change process. It also outlines a process for developing a data collection and analysis plan that aligns with the Authentic Demand framework described in the full report. (The report Sustaining Neighborhood Change: The Power of Resident Leadership, Social Networks, and Community Mobilization developed through the Making Connections Initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation).


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.


Community Engagement Assessment Worksheet

This tool helps agencies take stock of their current level of community engagement by presenting a set of activities and prompting agencies to think about how often they currently engage in each of these activities. The worksheet also helps agencies think about how they want to go about addressing this level of engagement and helps them think through their priorities in this area. (Developed by Margi Clarke and Emily Goldfarb, consultants to social change organizations.)


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.


Learning Circles for Root Cause Analysis

This handout from BMP offers information and a process to engage staff and constituent partners in learning circles focused on root cause analysis. It describes how to organize the leaning circle, set it up for success and provides tips for the facilitator.

The purpose of a learning circle is to develop a deeper understanding of community problems and issues experienced by agency constituents. The learning circle fosters critical thinking and analysis among circle participants, who begin to form and re-examine their assumptions about their role in community life and their ability to propose solutions for community change.


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.


Building Organizational Capacity for Social Justice

Recognizing that much has been done in the general field of capacity building of the nonprofit sector, the National Gender and Equity Campaign (NGEC) began conducting extensive research to understand existing frameworks, tools and approaches in capacity building.  The transformation framework and accompanying tools within this publication highlight NGEC’s intention to elevate the social justice movement by supporting the development of social justice organizations.


Assessment of Organization Readiness for Social Change

A seven-question, multiple-choice assessment, this tool helps help groups determine if the process described in “Social Service & Social Change: A Process Guide” is an appropriate match for their organization.  Based on the final score of the assessment, a basic analysis and starting point is suggested.


Racial Equity Tools

Racial Equity Tools is designed to support individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity. This site offers tools, research, tips, curricula and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working toward justice at every level – in systems, organizations, communities and the culture at large.


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.