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!

 

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.


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.


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.