Identifying New Programmatic Models

Exploring issues and making recommendations relating to the structure and funding of civil society.

The allegations leveled against civil society organizations (CSOs) that they are lackeys of the West, serving foreign masters and agendas with weak links to local issues and local constituencies are often used to weaken civil society. This rhetorical assault on civil society is coupled with attempts to regulate the receipt of foreign funding, which (when successful) can have devastating effects on the sector. Against this backdrop, iCon members will explore the implications of closing space being in part driven and/or exacerbated by a dominant programmatic model in which Global North (or West) donors support Global South (or East) CSOs on a short-term, project-by-project basis where the donors’ interests and priorities take precedence over local organizations’ missions and agendas. They will examine current programmatic models and organizational cultures and identify different ways of funding the work of civil society that would make the sector more resilient.

Research Questions

  • What programmatic models would be more suited to different contexts?
  • What would a programmatic model that enhances sustainability and resilience look like?
  • What constraints will CSOs and donors face in adopting these approaches and how can those barriers be overcome?