The world is changing. No doubt about it.
And with this change comes a challenging environment for organizations.
Governments around the world are restricting fundamental rights of association and speech. Citizens are more and more polarized. Toleration is on the decline as people listen less to different perspectives and trust less news and even the facts of the world around them.
Civil society organizations around the world are severely impacted. Hundreds of countries have enacted new regulations that hobble CSOs to raise money and advocate for the critical social, economic and environmental changes needed. Democracy is general is moving towards an illiberal form where power dictates rights and the space for action shifts.
Nevertheless, civil society will grow, change and weather these new conditions.
In the meantime, funders who have created a funding system capable of reaching civil society can make their funding resilient by creating new ways to reach citizen’s organizations, by reaching beyond formal organizations, by improving local and international networks and by learning what to fund and how to be effective in the new conditions.
Chris Allan, from Ajabu Associates, and I suggest a resiliency framework for funders based on interviews with dozens of social change funders around the world facing a closing space for civil society in our new paper in the current issue of the Foundation Review.
The article can be downloaded here with a subscription – https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/tfr/vol10/iss2/11/
How can we best support grassroots organizations?
As organizations become bigger they inevitably have more access to financial resources and their ability to influence political and financial power also grows. But they also can lose some of the strength they draw from the actual interaction and knowledge of those who are most impacted by the problems they seek to solve and the possibilities they seek to realize. In other words, not all organizations need to become large to have a lasting and sustainable impact.
Artemisa Castro, the executive director of the Action in Sulidarity Fund in Mexico, and I consider how to strengthen and work with organizations on the actual challenges they face by working within and understanding how trust and confidence can be built among and between grassroots organizations. Looking beyond the financial resources they need, the article “Lessons from Grassroots Organizations” considers social capacity as one of the most important factors leading to a healthy, engaged civil society that can not only innovate and address local inequities but can sustain positive changes for their communities.
The article is available here: https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1225&context=tfr
Philanthropy is as old as peoplekind – but building an infrastructure that can advance innovation, empower the marginalized and foster social capital, organization and capacity is very new in many parts of the world. This Sourcebook on Foundation Building opens a window on the strategies and approaches that are working in many places.
Civil Society is not the non-profit sector nor the world of non-governmental organizations. These are merely prevailing models of social organizations and not necessarily the best ones.
Civil Society is the place where we bring our sense of justice in the context of our dreams and aspirations to make it a better world.