nonprofit provocateur

Creating social change through nonprofit work: how?

Posted on: September 6, 2009

So you may be thinking: it’s great and all to view myself as an advocate for my cause – no matter my official job title – and to approach my work as part of building a movement for social change, but how do I do that? What does that even really mean?

At least, that’s what I’ve been thinking since I decided to start this blog. So I began researching.

One of the best resources I’ve found so far is the Building Movement Project, an organization whose goal is to build a strong social justice ethos into the nonprofit sector, strengthen the role of nonprofit organizations in the United States as sites of democratic practice, and promote nonprofit groups as partners in building movement for progressive social change.

Sounds awesome, right?

In particular, they offer several reports and resources that I’ve found useful as a starting point for generating ideas on how to incorporate social change into nonprofit work. Over the next few posts I’m going to explore ways in which the transformation process outlined below can be applied not just at the organizational level, but also on a more personal level to an individual’s work within the sector.

The Transformation Process:

  1. Learning: (a) Identifying and learning about the root causes of issues/problems faced by the organization’s constituents. (b) Identifying and learning about ways to address these issues/problems.
  2. Awareness: Understanding the larger structures of power and how these structures operate, as well as examining the way power operates within the organization.
  3. Vision: Articulating the type of world those in the organization believe is possible for the constituents they serve, and examining the organization’s role in moving towards that world.
  4. Strategy: Outlining the steps the organization needs to take to implement its vision, especially as it relates to building the power, influence, and visibility of its constituents.
  5. Action: Identifying and implementing a method for moving the organization into social change work that suits the organization and its constituents, while maintaining the organization’s capacity to continue providing its core services.
  6. Reflection: Evaluating the results of the action(s) taken by examining what worked, what did not, and what will be needed to improve upon the plan in the future (including what new learning and strategies are needed).

Social Service and Social Change: A Process Guide

Making Social Change: Case Studies of Nonprofit Service Providers

Organizational Assessment


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nonprofit provocateur :: instigating social change, one agent at a time

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