Community Action Toolkit and other resources from The Young Foundation

in Civic Economy & Social Enterprise

Annisa Muchtar works on Communications at The Young Foundation (@the_young_fdn), and is an Analyst at  Market Sentinel. The Young Foundation’s work covers health, ageing, education, communities and housing, justice, youth leadership, creative uses of the web, and wellbeing. They address issues by carrying out research, launching collaboratives, creating new ventures, and advising national and local governments and other public agencies, in the UK and internationally. They collaborate with a wide range of organizations – from charities and businesses to governments and local authorities – using a comprehensive set of tools and approaches. You can also find the foundation on Facebook. Annisa’s notes:

The Young Foundation/Community action toolkit – There are already hundreds of places around the country where local authorities are working to empower and support communities, and where communities are taking the lead on local issues: running community buildings, setting up action groups, delivering local services and championing the need for better public services. However, there are as many places just starting to explore how to engage and empower local people.

This is challenging for many local authorities and public agencies. Devolution and empowerment create new risks for local authorities to manage and demand that agencies change the way they view and work with communities and service users.

Much is already known about how to successfully empower communities. This community action toolkit brings together knowledge, practical tools and stories about community empowerment for organisations who want to shift power and influence to local people and for communities that want to take up those opportunities. It is based on five years’ work the Young Foundation has undertaken with communities, local groups, councillors, local authorities, housing associations, public agencies and central government.

Learning Locally: What can three community initiatives teach us about promoting localism in Devon, by Carmel O’Sullivan, Catherine Russell, Vicki Sellick – This short report explores the lessons from three very different approaches to community engagement in Devon – a grass roots community forum, a parish council cluster and a community plan for an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We explore the impact each structure has had on community engagement, scrutiny of local services and promoting resident responsibility.

Growing social ventures by Cynthia Shanmugalingam, Geoff Mulgan, Jack Graham, Simon Tucker – Britain’s history is full of examples of forward-thinking co-ops, charities, mutuals as well as profitable businesses that have pioneered innovative ways to tackle social needs. From the rich activity of socially oriented businesses and charities in the 19th century, to forerunners of the ethical business movement like the Body Shop, and an estimated £24bn social enterprise industry, the UK has a diverse ecology of entrepreneurial activity aimed at meeting social goals.

With strong government support and interest in the field, and growing interest from London’s financial services sector, the UK has come to be seen as a global leader in the emerging fields of social enterprise, social finance and social entrepreneurship. Over the past fifteen years, at least £350 million of public money has gone into funds for social entrepreneurship, charity capacity building and other support for social ventures, alongside significant philanthropic funding and some private investment – although accurate aggregate figures remain elusive. Tax incentives have also been introduced, as well as legal reforms to encourage investment.

A new industry is steadily taking shape. This industry has many names: social investment, social finance, and the social economy. It fuses together two relative strengths of the UK – skill in finance and skill in civic action, organisation and delivery.

This report, produced by the Young Foundation and published by NESTA, is the first comprehensive survey of the state of the institutions that support a dynamic and emerging sector of social ventures.

More on the Young Foundation’s work.

Cited in the Compendium for the Civic Economy

in Civic Economy & Social Enterprise

These organizations were cited in the Compendium for the Civic Economy, by Indy Johar and Joost Beunderman. Published in May 2011 by 00:/, with support from the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA), and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). The descriptions below are quoted mainly from the Compendium.

More to follow

Resources for building & empowering communities – Rebecca Sanborn Stone

in Civic Economy & Social Enterprise

14th in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Rebecca Sanborn Stone is Senior Associate for Communications at Orton Family Foundation and CommunityMatters. She holds a BA in Biology and English from Williams College, where she helped found the Williams Social Choice Fund for socially responsible investing. She got her MESc from Yale. You can also find Rebecca on Twitter (@rsstone) and Facebook.

On the practice of hoarding or sharing best practices, Rebecca says: I’ve historically seen a fair bit of hoarding, including in my own organization, though not always intentionally. I think a lot of organizations intend to share and collaborate and grow a common set of best practices, but it breaks down because we all want control over what our case studies and resources look like, how we build and share them. I think I see a shift in that trend, though – I’ve recently learned of a number of newer organizations (mostly either run by millennials or at least operating with a millennial mindset) that are bucking this trend and abandoning the ego in favor of true collaboration. It makes organizations like mine stop and take notice and, I hope, will be enough to help us change our ways.

These are Rebecca’s recommended resources:

Changemakers Competitions – Community empowerment for me always starts with inspiration and examples, and I can’t think of a better resource for that than Changemakers. Their competition winners offer so many inspiring stories of people taking control of their communities and coming up with innovative solutions to both local and global challenges. The competition entrants who don’t win are perhaps an even richer resource – the site doubles as a database of creative ideas for community change.

CommunityMatters blog – CommunityMatters helps local leaders and changemakers find collaborative, innovative grassroots solutions to community challenges. The CommunityMatters blog includes information-rich posts and podcasts of conference calls on topics ranging from local foods to placemaking to economic development.

NCDD Resource Center – The NCDD Resource Center is home to more than 2,500 resources for dialogue and deliberation, including dialogue guides, case studies, tools, and evaluation methods. Dialogue and democratic participation are at the heart of all community empowerment, and NCDD is at the heart of this movement.

Cause Communications Toolkit – Cause Communications publishes a Non-profit Communications Toolkit, as well as other resources related to networks, online outreach tools, and print and presentation design. It might seem only peripherally related to community empowerment, but we find that so many community initiatives stall because they fail to communicate with or reach citizens. The Cause Communications guides are some of the best resources around for improving effectiveness in communications.

Deep Economy (Bill McKibben) – It’s not free, and not an obvious choice, but I have to list it. I see so many aspects of community empowerment leading back to the “local” movement today – buy local / grow local / eat local / work local / etc. Bill McKibben’s book was at the forefront of the local movement, and is one of the best articulation’s I’ve seen for why local economies and community empowerment have to go hand in hand. [Check a library near you]

Building community in neighborhoods

The following resources on Rebecca’s list are more focused on building community in neighborhoods. As Rebecca notes: There are several great databases and resources out there with examples of community initiatives, and instructions on how to do it, but I wouldn’t limit myself to the neighborhood level. Lessons from small town and rural planning would apply very well to neighborhood community building, and the resources I’d recommend would point people in that direction. – The Community Planning Handbook by Nick Wates is one of the best publications, with ideas for planning-related tools to engage citizens, identify what matters to communities, and plan for the future – especially in an international context. is a free online database listing most of the resources from his book.

Planning Tool Exchange – The Planning Tool Exchange is an online hub for tools, resources, and organizations in community planning and civic engagement. We invite all users to find and contribute resources and help grow an information bank for communities.

Heart & Soul Community Planning Handbook – The Heart & Soul Community Planning Handbook helps communities engage citizens and take control of their future. Chapters include network analysis and stakeholder identification, outreach and communications, storytelling, and engaging youth. I recommend this because it’s at the heart of our work and it’s one of the resources I know best; neighborhoods looking to engage citizens would learn a lot from the small town planning examples included here.

Animating Democracy database – This database focuses on projects that use the arts to build dialogue, engage citizens, and work through difficult civic issues. Many of the projects are replicable, but even if they’re not a perfect fit for other communities and neighborhoods, they inspire creative thinking about unorthodox community tools.

PPS Placemaking 101 Articles – PPS’s resource collection includes how-tos, articles, principles, tools, and just about everything else a community would need to understand how placemaking can help and how to get started.


Social Enterprise Resources from Paul Lamb

in Civic Economy & Social Enterprise

13th in our Best practices in Community Empowerment series.

Paul Lamb is Principal at Man on A Mission Consulting, a firm specializing in “Management Consulting for Social Change.” He is an author and social entrepreneur, and runs a “Technology & Spiritual Practice” program assisting faith based communities to leverage social media and emerging technology tools. Paul is the co-author with wife Debbie of the Be A Better Partner Handbook for Couples. In a previous life he worked as a nonprofit executive and youth counselor. Paul compiled this comprehensive list of Social Enterprise Resources on ZeroDivide, which includes most everything you’d need to start and sustain a social enterprise. He also authored this Social Enterprise 101 presentation for budding social entrepreneurs:

View more presentations from plamb

Paul recommends that you check these other resources out:

Social Enterprise Alliance - Website of the Social Enterprise Alliance – the largest membership org for nonprofit social enterprise in the US.

Social Entrepreneur, Social Enterprise and Social Innovation Sources of Funding
- A list of 200+ social entrepreneur, social enterprise and social innovation funding sources on Ned, global online co-working space for early stage social entrepreneurs and collaborative social ventures.

130 Ways to Fund Your Social Venture
, published in SocialEarth, a collaborative blog that focuses on businesses that are doing good through their work.

On sharing/hoarding best practices, Paul says: “Sharing is in, hoarding is out. Coopetition is in, competition is out!”

Next up: Rebecca Sanborn Stone of the Orton Family Foundation and CommunityMatters.

Compendium for the Civic Economy – Lessons Learned

in Civic Economy & Social Enterprise

Excerpts from Compendium for the Civic Economy, by Indy Johar and Joost Beunderman. Published in May 2011 by 00:/, with support from the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA), and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), p177ff.

A: The civic economy is being built by protagonists who are led by passion, purpose, and personal commitment – and whose key asset is their social networks and trust they hold.

click on any image to enlarge

B: The civic economy is based upon inviting participation from the public at large – which goes far beyond mere consultation, to create frameworks for a type of co-production and co-investment that builds deep democratic belonging.

C: The civic economy is built using an increasing diversity of finance sources as well as the investment of a range of other ‘currencies’ – people’s time, trust, and social networks.

D: The civic economy is emerging from recognizing and re-combining the latent capacity of dormant or under-used physical assets, human capabilities, and aspirations.

E: The civic economy is focused on generating a holistic experience of place – creating places that tell stories about their purpose, often surprising and delighting users and helping to generate open conditions for people’s participation and collaboration.

F: The civic economy, although purpose driven, is being built not through strategic planning, but through open-ended, agile, incremental, and interactive practices – based on starting small, and growing in response to evolving needs and opportunities.

G: The civic economy is not just deeply local, but also intricately linked to change-makers elsewhere – growing through networks and adaptation, rather than through replication.

H: The civic economy is based on delivering a plurality of values and outcomes – which need to be acknowledged and taken into account in formulating the objectives and metrics of new policy, projects, and procurement.

Read the story behind the book in, and this review by Kevin Harris.

A slidedeck of illustrations used here: