Equipping nonprofits to advance social change

A Deeper Dive into Advocacy: Webinar Re-Cap

Written by Noelia Mann

This piece is a follow-up to a recent Tools to Engage webinar hosted by the Building Movement Project.

Now, more than ever, direct service organizations are being called upon to advocate for individuals as well as for policy change. By integrating service and social change, organizations can continue to effectively provide needed services, while addressing the root causes that make services necessary. You may be wondering:

  • What would integrating service and social change look like for your organization?
  • What are some steps you can take, no matter where you are in the process, to more actively engage your constituents?
  • How can you build on skills you and your staff already have to make a seamless transition to policy advocacy?

To address these, and many more questions, BMP hosted a webinar (part of our Tools to Engage webinar series) to lift up the work one organization is doing to integrate policy advocacy into the work they’re already doing. In an interview with project consultant Judi Sherman, Executive Director of SparkPoint Contra Costa, Betty Geishirt Cantrell, shared her organization’s experience of volunteering to engage in a “deeper dive” to assess their capacity to integrate policy advocacy into their current service provision and develop a plan for future action. Takeaways include an understanding of the factors helped make this “deeper dive” a success, how the process changed the organization, and how integrating service and social change might not be such a big leap after all.

In case you missed the webinar, we’ve made it easy to watch a recording and download a PDF of the slides.

Based on a poll we conducted during the webinar to learn more about which of the four areas of constituent engagement attendees feel their organizations have the most room to grow, we’re happy to share the following resources:

  1. EDUCATION: Both of our presenters mentioned how helpful Learning Circles can be to facilitate education and discussion around policy issues that are important to your constituents and community. Adapt this handout to set up, facilitate, and get the most out of a learning circle, no matter your organizational context.
  2. INPUT AND FEEDBACK: Download this essay, How Feedback Loops Can Improve Aid, and access this Feedback Loops Toolkit to up your feedback game. We also recommend you check out this blog post and webinar recap about the difference between constituent engagement and feedback loops.
  3. CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: Download this excellent toolkit, Integrating Civic Participation Strategies into Service Delivery, for a variety of tools including surveys, intake forms, flyers, workshop guides, and petitions to assist in the integration process.
  4. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: Check out this mini-report, Developing the Leadership of Recipients, for an in-depth look at how different organizations are thinking about leadership development. We also recommend watching the last Tools to Engage webinar, Barrett Foundation and the Common Good Action Project, which followed one organization’s journey towards bringing their first client onto their Board of Directors.

Webinar participants also requested access to the white paper Judi wrote about SparkPoint Contra Costa’s process. Download it here.

The Tools to Engage Webinar series:

This “Deeper Dive into Advocacy” is the third of a series of Tools to Engage webinars BMP has been hosting over the last year. The purpose of the webinar is to lift up the work organizations across the country are doing to integrate social change practices. In so doing, we hope to offer ‘living case studies” for those seeking to address root causes and engage constituents more effectively. The series works in tandem with our website, tools2engage.org, which houses a selection of over 100 tools, carefully curated to meet the needs of constituents, clients, organizational leaders, capacity builders, consultants, staff, and boards to both provide services and nurture the voice and power of residents to thrive. Please visit tools2engage.org to learn more.

Service and Social Change advocacy constituent engagement policy webinar