Equipping nonprofits to advance social change

Tag: Five Percent Shifts

Crossing Organizational Boundaries to Build New Partnerships

About This Series: Our research and experience shows that relatively small shifts in service provision can cause ripple effects; raising up constituent voice, fostering community cohesion and increasing engagement in advocacy efforts. This series highlights “5% shifts” - as we are calling them -...more

Advancing Community Level Impact

About this Series This series highlights “5% shifts” – as we are calling them – that don’t rely on organizations completely changing course and reinventing themselves. We lift up shifts that are both simple and achievable, to inspire service providers to adapt what works. These reports are...more

Asking Powerful Questions

This report profiles two organizations that began asking new and powerful questions in their work with clients and volunteers. In the case of Crisis Assistance Ministry – an organization providing support to people and families experiencing financial emergencies in Charlotte, NC – the addition of a simple question about voter registration to their standard battery of questions to screen individuals’ eligibility for public benefits both increased the civic engagement of clients and launched an organization-wide shift towards greater advocacy. For reStart, Inc. in Kansas City, MO, the organization had always relied on volunteers to help serve homeless youth, families and adults, but when they began asking people to reflect on both their volunteer experience and perceptions of homelessness, it deepened volunteers’ motivation to support the organization and the people they help.

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Developing The Leadership of Recipients

This report, the second in a series about organizational "5% shifts" includes two case studies of leadership development efforts by nonprofit organizations. At the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program in Detroit, a junior counselor program has been very impactful on the leadership skills of young adults. By enlisting teenagers to support younger children attending tutoring, summer camp and art therapy sessions, the program builds a pipeline that keeps youth engaged as they age, and builds their self-esteem and capacity to lead in other parts of their lives as well. The second case study examines the Client Advisory Board (CAB) at Bread for the City – a front line agency serving the poor in Washington, DC. The CAB builds on the organization’s tradition of client engagement and voice throughout its programs, and has helped empower clients to have a say as individuals and as a collective. Clients who have been members of the CAB have developed new programmatic areas of the organization and even taken their leadership skills out into their community. In both cases, the participants gain concrete skills that are valued in the workplace, but more importantly, the programs help to shift the relationships between staff and clients towards mutual respect as peers and transform participants’ self-image and sense of efficacy in the world.

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Building Community from the Inside Out

This report, the first in a series about organizational "5% shifts", includes two case studies of community building efforts by nonprofit organizations in Detroit and New York City. St. Matthew’s & St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church’s hot breakfast program in Detroit offers a model of a small shift in engagement with community members seeking healthy meals in the midst of an urban food desert. Their decision to shift from using a soup line mode of serving individuals to serving groups with shared ‘family-style’ meals leveraged the power of ritual around meals, which are both nostalgic and deeply affirming, to transform dynamics between clients and volunteers. But more importantly the shared meal time became a way to model the kind of community the church envisions for Detroit—one of mutual aid, sharing and abundance. The other case—Queens Community House—provides an example of community building among staff. The organization took on the challenge of fostering relationships among staff; not to boost morale and retention, but to live its values and principles in all parts of the organization.

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“Five Percent Shifts” Series

A Series of Five Percent Shifts Our research and experience shows that relatively small shifts in service provision can cause ripple effects; raising up constituent voice, fostering community cohesion and increasing engagement in advocacy efforts. This series highlights “5% shifts” - as we are calling them - that don...more