Equipping nonprofits to advance social change

Causes or Consequences

As discussed in the Root Cause Analysis exercise, understanding the often invisible sources of some of our communities’ most persistent problems takes learning about why and how things work. It is important to look at the daily activities of your organization and examine when they address the causes of our community problems, and when they deal with the consequences of those problems. Both are important. Without the essential daily services that agencies provide, most people could not even begin to explore the source of the inequities they face.

This tool helps board, staff, and/or volunteers assess where their work is having an impact. It is important to note that not everyone will agree on the root causes of community problems. However, a critical awareness of the larger forces that affect the community and its residents can prompt those participating in this exercise to understand, acknowledge and speak about the conditions and systems in your community and our society that keep people from reaching their fullest potential. This in turn can inform participants’ assessment of the impact of their work and the work of the agency as a whole.

Applying the Practice