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!

 

A Developmental Evaluation Primer

This tool offers a clear, concise introduction to the evaluation framework known as Developmental Evaluation, developed and popularized by researcher Michael Quinn Patton. 


Overview of Current Advocacy Evaluation Practice

This brief offers an overview of current practice in the new and now rapidly growing field of advocacy evaluation. It highlights the kinds of approaches being used, offers specific examples of how they are being used and who is using them, and identifies the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.


Four Components of Community

This discussion guide can be used to explore the key components of community building and evaluate where it is currently happening in your organization, and where it can be built up. You can use this agenda and worksheet to delve deeper into individual programs or areas of your work to begin to generate more concrete ideas for next steps.


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.


Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-impact Nonprofits

This book, first published in 2007, is a guide to how nonprofits achieve extraordinary social impact. After studying 12 nonprofit, the authors identified six practices that lead to success. Advocacy and constituent engagement are key.


The Power of Stories

This webpage has a link to a video that describes the cultural treasures of one community in California. The video highlights youth working for change and developing leadership through civic engagement and advocacy.


Nonprofits Must Speak Out about Poverty and Income Inequality

This paper makes the case for nonprofits to work to ameliorate income inequality beyond providing services to those who are already poor or are in danger of falling out of the shrinking middle class and into poverty.


Midwest Academy Strategy Chart

This handout guides the organization to explore what is currently happening within the organization as well as identifying those who will work with you and those who might block your efforts.


Everyday Advocacy Resources

From advocacy toolkits and informative “how to” sheets to recent opinion pieces and material about federal, state, and local lobbying laws, this section of the National Council of Nonprofits website provides resources to nonprofit leaders about ways to advance their missions through everyday advocacy.


Better Together

This website is the portal to “Better Together”, the 2000 report that identified America’s civic apathy and ways to revitalize it. There are links to the book, “Bowling Alone”, which describes how isolated members of our society have become, as well as a social capital primer, research and measurement tools.


Where I Found Role Models Who Look Just Like Me

This motivating story by a youth leader can be effective to spark conversation about engaging often overlooked constituents for leadership roles.


Transactions, Transformations, Translations

“Transactions, Transformations, Translations: Metrics That 
Matter for Building, Scaling, and Funding Social Movements” is a way of looking at organizational growth and the alliance building that brings groups together. This evaluation approach can capture the importance of narrative and numbers, of politics and policies, of transformation as well as transaction.


Animating Democracy | IMPACT

Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts, has an online storehouse of resources aimed at helping arts organizations evaluate the social impact of creative work that aims to make social change.  Although the site is intended for arts-focused organizations, many of the resources offered are applicable to the work of a wide variety of service agencies interested social change work.