Capacity Building and the New Social Good Professional


(Note: I recently heard a drive is on to define the nonprofit sector not by what we aren’t but by what we are, so social good is replacing non-profit in this text)

Trying to navigate the many resources of the social good sector can be confusing and time-consuming for any new social good professional.  There are excellent resources, even excellent free Canadian resources around social good topics out there.   This blog attempts to expose some of these.  In times when training is reduced or bypassed hopefully this blog will open up a sharing of further excellent social good sector resources and ideas to build our own individual and consequently sector’s capacity. 

This article looks at advocacy, policy and evaluation.  The next one will look at volunteer management and social innovation.  The final will jump into conferences and possibly books.  Data Canadian unless noted otherwise.

If you are interested in the activist lens of work in the social good field, this resource is for you.  It is from Greenpeace (not Greenpeace Canada) and again the resources are free.  Resources include a mobilisation cookbook and recent article/ research “Beyond the First Click: How Today’s Volunteers Build Power for Movements and NGO’s”;  Tools on organizing and mobilizing are inset.

Now for those who love policy and wish to delve into policy work with social good organizations I’m told the Max Bell Foundation’s training is fantastic.  Also exciting, I’m told they are writing a book on this to come out possibly this year!

Continuing on the policy stream Maytree is an organization, “committed to advancing systemic solutions to poverty and strengthening civic communities.” ( It is based in Toronto and their civic literacy toolkit resource is somewhat Toronto focused but still handy.  They also house the “5 Good Ideas” snippets which are useful for new social good professionals;  For instance Sunil Johal provides 5 Good Ideas about Public Policy.  Other snippets relate to human resources, budgeting and more.   According to Maytree’s January media release they will also soon house Caledon Institute’s body of work.  What is very cool about Caledon is their Canada Social Report which sought to fill the gap left by insufficient recent census data.  For instance click on poverty reduction strategies, then Ontario and you’ll find a summary of the poverty reduction strategies currently in place (other provinces and territories included as well) in Ontario.  The Canada Social Report covers Youth, Labour Force and Employment, Welfare in Canada, Indigenous Peoples, Minimum wages, Disability Data and more;

Now of course policy and advocacy often go hand in hand, so moving into more advocacy type resources we find the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) houses a government relations portal.  “CCVO promotes and strengthens the nonprofit and voluntary sector by developing and sharing resources and knowledge, building connections, leading collaborative work, and giving voice to critical issues affecting the sector.” ( The municipal resources are restricted to Calgary and the provincial resources to Alberta but the Government Relations toolkit serves all.  The toolkit includes articles on “How to…Meet with Parliamentarians”, how to participate in public policy and more;

If you are interested in advocacy and evaluation you might want to stop by the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) site.  “The Ontario Nonprofit Network  is the provincial network for the approximately 55,000 nonprofit organizations across Ontario. As a 7,000-strong provincial network, with a volunteer base of 300 sector leaders, ONN brings the diverse voices of the sector to government, funders and business to create and influence systemic change.” ( By the way the ONN posts transcripts of their annual conference post-event;  This is so awesomely collaborative and capacity building.  Way to go ONN.  You will find highlights on evaluation and advocacy and evaluation in the session highlights. Anyway in ONN’s resource section they also include a resource on trends- a 2015 trends analysis called, “Leadership in Changing Times”.  The evaluation resources include among other links an evaluation literature guide while the advocacy resources include a link on Advocacy Rules;

While at the ONN conference the Canadian HIV/Aids Legal Network presented on measuring advocacy impact.  They also made available free on their website a monitoring, evaluation and learning guide on legal advocacy;

I’d be remiss in an article on social good resources not to mention Imagine Canada’s Sector Source. Sector Source also has a glossary and search function.   The search results can be overwhelming but you can filter by subject or use advanced search to search by year, etc.  Sector Source also carries Sector Monitor which is a snapshot view of the charitable sector since 2009.   Evaluation and Research also has tip sheets (some less recent) on focus groups, program evaluation, survey research and questionnaire design.   The Charitable Research section includes links to sector journals. It carries Volunteerism data particularly Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating results since 1997.  It holds topic guides on  board governance, finance and administration, fundraising, staff management, voluntary involvement, starting an organization, charity tax tools, Imagine Canada Standards; 

In the next blog post we’ll look at volunteer management and social innovation resources for the new social good professional


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