Landscape Scan: Meaningfully Connecting with Communities in Advocacy and Policy Work

Meaningfully Connecting with Communities in Advocacy and Policy Work

Since its start, Listen4Good has focused on helping direct-service organizations build high-quality, client-centered feedback loops that can lead to positive changes in programs, services, and organizational culture. But even as L4G continues to grow, Fund for Shared Insight recognizes that the program — with survey work and the Net Promoter System at its core — may be less useful to groups that don’t provide direct services to clients, such as those working on advocacy and policy change. For that reason, Shared Insight commissioned the Aspen Institute’s Planning and Evaluation Program to conduct a landscape scan, exploring whether and how U.S. funders and nonprofits focused on advocacy and policy seek to meaningfully connect with the people and communities their work is intended to benefit.

Overarching Takeaways

  • Meaningfully connecting goes beyond input and feedback. In advocacy and policy work this could mean, for example, building community voice and power.
  • There are many different ways to meaningfully connect. Organizations should shape their approach to the type of advocacy and policy work they do, their size and location, and their organizational capacity and history.
  • There is no silver bullet methodology or tool. Feedback surveys are only one important tool to consider when looking to achieve systemic change.
  • Funders can begin to meaningfully connect with the communities they intend to benefit by examining their own internal norms, culture, strategies, structures, and decision-making processes.
  • There is ample room to strengthen nonprofits’ efforts to connect, though many face capacity-related challenges in doing so.
  • Funders can help nonprofits connect more meaningfully by making grants that recognize the time, money, skills, and flexibility organizations need to thoughtfully engage communities in advocacy campaigns or policy work.

Other Insights