ORS Impact wrote this report for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a Fund for Shared Insight core funder. In 2018, Packard’s Organizational Effectiveness team made $50,000 grants to 10 advocacy organizations to explore ways to listen to, empathize with, or meaningfully engage the people and communities impacted by their work, and to identify promising practices for how advocacy groups can better listen. Based on interviews with staff at the 10 grantees, this report documents learnings from those efforts.
Among the key findings:
- Most organizations were motivated to participate by a belief that listening to the people their work impacts is the right and equitable thing to do. The organizations sought increased community input, capacity building, and co-creation of policies.
- To accomplish their goals, organizations used an array of methods and leveraged partnerships that allowed them to connect more meaningfully than ever before. Methods included focus groups, listening sessions, advisory councils, advocacy trainings, and meetings with decision-makers.
- Engaging the people their work impacts led to tangible changes in advocacy practices and internal culture and staffing; organizations also reported perceived changes among their partners, constituents, and decision-makers.
- Organizations reported a variety of challenges when meaningfully engaging the people their work impacts, including logistical challenges, a lack of trust with their constituents, and cultural norms.