Advocacy Resources

Information and resources for nonprofits to effectively and legally engage in advocacy. Their free advocacy capacity tool (ACT!) is a great way to evaluate where your advocacy strengths and opportunities are

Tennessee’s nonpartisan public policy and budget research center 

Track bills, connect with lawmakers, watch committee meetings

Subscription-based weekly newsletter that covers all things state politics  

Fee-based bill tracking service


Collective Impact Resources


a network of individuals coming together to share experience and knowledge to accelerate the effectiveness and adoption of collective impact.

Includes a large resource library for Collective IMpact and other collaborative initiatives based on many years of work with initiatives in the U.S., Canada and abroad

Focused on collaborative community approaches to solving community challenges, they have a growing resource library. 

Built on 30 years of experience, The Harwood Institute provides tools, resources and coaching to turn outward and build and authentically engage community in making progress on complex challenges.

Community Indicators Consortium

Resources and tools to help communities and practitioners advance the practice and effective use of community indicators.


This exercise helps develop a strong shared vision which creates a sense of commonality, builds trust amongst people and gives coherence to diverse activities.

This worksheet will help guide a conversation about how to move your ideas into an action plan and also enable you to gain greater clarity about the issue or opportunity you are trying to address.

This Tool will help you clearly articulate your ideas, identify key benefits or features for specific stakeholders or audiences, and reflect on what is required to go from idea to impact. 

A commonly expressed challenge is how to get to a common agenda for collective impact. This guide will support communities with milestones and resources that can help lay foundations for developing a community-wide common agenda.

This tool will help your collective get greater clarity about the shared issue you want to address.

This exercise offers an opportunity for participants to fully explore fully explore and articulate their own personal and organizational needs and potential benefits, providing a constructive way of ensuring that the hopes and needs of each individual team member is heard, understood and integrated into the team’s vision and action plan.

This tool is designed to help you to assess and further develop your Collective Impact initiative’s backbone support infrastructure.

Collective Impact Forum

A resource for those thinking about how to start a backbone, or for established backbone teams who are bringing in new members and partners. 

Collective Impact Forum

This toolkit includes a number of tools for the formation of a Steering Committee. This toolkit includes a guide for identifying steering committee members, descriptions of steering committee member responsibilities, a steering committee governance agreement, sample steering committee meeting agendas, and discussion guides.


This kit provides detailed tools, templates, and tips. From increasing membership and community engagement to planning and running effective meetings, Co-chairs will find strategic and tactical resources to help them contribute to a successful initiative.

Tamarack Institute

This tool is designed to help you to map out the most effective approach to continuously communicate how your Collective Impact plan is evolving; the progress that is made on moving forward the shared measures; and how best to share lessons learned with one another.


While some funders have a nuanced understanding of the immense value of collective impact initiatives, supporting the backbone is a different approach for many philanthropic and public funding sources, which can make it challenging to get the consistent, long-term investments needed to help effect population-change. In March 2019, the Collective Impact Forum surveyed members to understand trends in backbone funding, what challenges organizations are facing, and what fundraising strategies are working well. 

In this new article, Paul Schmitz (Collective Impact Forum and Leading Inside Out) shares about a new approach to funding developed by the Advancing Healthier Wisconsin Endowment (AHW) that explores how an initiative can invest in the long-term development of the agenda, capacities, and engagement necessary to achieve collective impact.

The past year has brought a chorus of cries challenging the status quo in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in pursuit of greater impact… the sector needs to shift from setting modest goals that provide short-term results to setting bold goals that, while harder to achieve, tackle the root of social problems.  Here, we offer reflections on our original three recommendations—setting a bold goal, opening your circle, and changing the conversation—to make significantly greater progress.

Five characteristics of civic culture that collective impact efforts must address.

Use this set of strategic questions to ask and answer when practicing community engagement, especially if you seek to do the work in an intentional, strategic, and positively impactful way.

We must take on the difficult work of accounting for race and racism in our collective change-making endeavors or face the risk of failing to undo systemic inequities.

Article about cross-sector collaboration

Case Studies

A study of 25 initiatives in the U.S. and Canada to determine how collective impact how Collective Impact is implemented across a broad range of communities and topic areas and to what extent and under what conditions does the collective impact approach contribute to systems and population changes.

Cities Reducing Poverty has identified that successful poverty reduction efforts progress through four key phases and share similar milestones. This case study details Saint John, New Brunswick’s journey through each phase of progress, with the goal of providing other collaboratives with a sense of how the work can unfold, including which challenges may be encountered along the way.


Communications Resources

The FrameWorks Institute is a nonprofit think tank that advances the mission-driven sector’s capacity to frame the public discourse about social and scientific issues. The organization’s signature approach, Strategic Frame Analysis®, offers empirical guidance on what to say, how to say it, and what to leave unsaid.  

Download this pdf from Storybrand to learn the 7-part story structure that will help you tell your organization’s story better. 

Clarify your message by creating a BrandScript

In late 2018, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), an Independent Sector member, conducted research to learn how people perceive some of our sector’s most frequently used words to describe civic engagement work -- including democracy, patriotism, activism, and justice. They asked a diverse and nationally representative set of participants which words resonated with them, what feelings they had about them, and whether and how they used these words in their own lives.

An effective social media presence is dependent on a well-thought-out strategy that involves knowing your target audience, maintaining a defined and positive voice across platforms, providing compelling content, and consistently engaging with and responding to followers and their feedback.  Here's where to start.


Data Sources

The data portal of Healthy Nashville.  The Healthy Nashville community health improvement process is a community-based effort to improve the health and well-being of Davidson County residents. 

TN Department of Health and Human Services

TN Department of Health and Human Services

Find popular facts (population, income, etc.) and frequently requested data about your community.

Provides resources and tools to help communities and practitioners advance the practice and effective use of community indicators.


Development/Fundraising Resources

The Fund Raising School is excited to launch the First Day Podcast! Highlighting current news and research, this weekly 10 minute podcast provides fundraisers with the latest information in fundraising and philanthropy.

Conducted by the management service organization Compass Point

Don’t learn this lesson the hard way. Before jumping into purchasing nonprofit software, consider the following factors.

A vast array of charities are competing for a limited pool of money from a finite number of grantmaking entities.  To improve their chances of winning a grant, foundation officers and professional grant writers say charities should avoid making the following mistakes in grant proposals and applications.

A detailed, comparative analysis of the first 25 Pay for Success projects to launch in the United States.  It highlights lessons and contributions from these pioneering projects along with case studies and tables that look at everything from project structure to results, payments, and more.

Nonprofits struggling to keep supporters excited about their causes should follow these five recommendations to make the most of Stanford behavioral scientist B.J. Fogg's model for getting people to act.


Equity Resources

Tool for guiding equity conversations in your workplace. 

An engaging 4 minute video that explains what systemic racism is, and how we can solve. 

Tools, research, tips, curricula and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working toward racial equity at every level – in systems, organizations, communities and the culture at large.

The Race Matters Institute helps organizations develop policies, programs, practices, and protocols that achieve more equitable outcomes for all children, families, and communities. 

Segment of a presentation by Allan G. Johnson where he use the game of Monopoly to explain white privilege and social systems. 

Ian Haney Lopez describes racism as a strategy to win votes. 

TedX talk that discusses the role of racism on the health and well-being of historically marginalized people. 

This podcast looks into the role/impact of white identity and why we need to talk about it (click play in the upper left corner).

In this TedTalk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns of misunderstanding if cultures and people are reduced to a single story.  

from Chapter 5 of "Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building," Donna K. Bivens explores the inner and interpersonal results of systemic racism.  

            Abe Lateiner looks at white privilege and white guilt. 

           Video about microaggressions in a classroom. 

            Video explaining microaggressions. 

A national movement started by Living Cities to advance racial equity by dismantling structural racism, city by city, town by town. Good intentions aren't enough to close outcome gaps, so we are committed to three steps forward, together.

2017 study by BoardSource found that 84 percent of board members and 90 percent of board chairs were white. And at least a quarter of boards were all white.  Why is that and how do we shift?

How can board members and executives know if their board is ready for deeper work in pursuit of equity? Here are four signs as well as some concrete strategies to get them there.

Suggestions to prepare your board for beginning Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work, starting with board diversity. 

"Race Forward's mission is to build awareness, solutions, and leadership for racial justice by generating transformative ideas, information, and experiences." 

A 4-5 minute video explaining systemic racism. 

In this second iteration of this Living Cities’ infographic, you will follow Sasha and her family through their day while interacting with “historical truths” that highlight why her story isn’t yet our lived normal. As Sasha encounters various systems and institutions, consider each historical truth and how it has led to our current reality and cultural narratives. To interact with the infographic, scroll over and click on the green play buttons.



Governance Resources

Newly updated guidebook created by CNM, TN Secretary of State, and TN Attorney General

Tools and news for nonprofit board members

A series of studies tracking and analyzing trends in nonprofit board leadership since 1994. Learn more about the trends and insights of today’s nonprofit boards in order to achieve your mission through exceptional board leadership.

A 2017 study by BoardSource found that 84 percent of board members and 90 percent of board chairs were white. And at least a quarter of boards were all white.  Why is that and how do we shift?

Is Your Board Ready to Work on Diversity?

Suggestions to prepare your board for beginning Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work, starting with board diversity. 

How can board members and executives know if their board is ready for deeper work in pursuit of equity? Here are four signs as well as some concrete strategies to get them there.


HR Resources

Resource from The Bridgespan Group


Leadership Resources

A nonprofit executive team's effectiveness is essential for an organization's success. Yet often these teams underperform for a variety of reasons. The five steps laid out here can help nonprofit executive teams move from underperforming to high-performing in their work to advance their organizations' missions.


General Nonprofit Sector Information

               Recent study supported by CNM and other nearby management services organizations

               Comprehensive analysis of the sector, available for purchase

               Nonprofit FAQs from the Tennessee Secretary of State

               Economic impact study of the local nonprofit sector conducted by MTSU in 2013

Written by attorney Christopher Was of Butler Snow 

FAQs about how group purchasing organizations work


Starting a Nonprofit

               If you are starting a nonprofit, we recommend following this checklist first.

               Another helpful resource for start-ups, also includes many links to other resources

               Information about the laws and regulations for nonprofits

This 90-minute interactive course features interviews with Tennessee nonprofit founders and experts sharing their advice and experience. The course also covers mission creation, board development, pros and cons to starting a nonprofit, annual reporting, and more!


CNM Blog

Check the CNM blog for information about new offerings and deadlines and news concerning the nonprofit sector.

Read more here.