Burkhard Gnärig

19 July, 2016

Disruption is happening all around us: Leading at times of disruptionthe recent arrival of over one million refugees in Europe; the dramatic cuts in some of the most generous donors’ aid budgets; and the fact that each of the last twelve months has been the hottest on record globally. These are just some of the most obvious examples. When disruptions like these occur, civil society organisations (CSOs) are nearly always affected. The International Civil Society Centre tries to support CSOs with:

  1. spotting disruption early so that they have enough time to come to terms with expected changes;
  2. preparing themselves for disruption, strengthening their adaptability and resilience;
  3. managing disruption once it strikes.

In the best case we will spot disruption early, be well prepared, and thus increase our chances to navigate disruption successfully. Let’s briefly look at the leadership challenges these three aspects – or you could also say “phases” – of disruption entail. MORE

Eric Gordon

12 July, 2016

The current blog theme is Digital Accountability, and our guest authors – digital experts from within the civil society sector – recently took part in a four-day CSO Accountability in the Digital Age workshop, facilitated by the INGO Accountability Charter.

INGO_CroppedHere they share the issues explored and outcomes established during this hands-on event. Today’s blog is the final in a series of five.


Individuals, especially young people, tend to interact with other people, mediated by systems or platforms, while being less conscious of the organisation or institution they represent. Likewise, people, again, especially young people, are more commonly motivated to act in the world by personal sharing, rather than collective action taking. I explore these ideas in my recent edited volume, with Paul Mihailidis, called Civic Media, which we define as “the technologies, designs, and practices that produce and reproduce the sense of being in the world with others toward common good.” Civic media comprise all the ways in which people make meaning and take action together, while mostly transcending individual outlets and organisations. Today, the individual actor is likely to see the organisation as facilitator rather than creator of meaning.

P1000125The medium, not the organisational onus, is the message. People care about getting things done and getting feedback about progress. The individual organisation and its reputation matters a great deal until it gets in the way. Then it doesn’t matter at all. The range of activities that comprise civil society, when labeled as media rather than a sector, can and should be imminently flexible. Digital social networks have blurred the lines between business operations and social assembly, customer and citizen, as billions use online social networks to advocate and connect across borders and technologies. At the same time, governments around the world monitor online activity both to enhance services and to suppress speech and facilitate violence, obviating the need for mediating practices. The actions of an ICSO, an activist group with a Twitter account, or a conscientious government minister, seeking to end poverty in India, are more similar than not. MORE

Gautam Raju

5 July, 2016

The current blog theme is Digital Accountability, and our guest authors – digital experts from within the civil society sector – recently took part in a four-day CSO Accountability in the Digital Age workshop, facilitated by the INGO Accountability Charter.

INGO_CroppedHere they share the issues explored and outcomes established during this hands-on event. Today’s blog is the fourth in a series of five.


The refugee crisis, turmoil in the Middle East, a rising right wing agenda, and a shrinking civil society space; civil society is at the heart of these looming issues – fighting and contributing through our programmes, advocacy and public campaigns. However, in a world connected through technology, we are continuing to miss an incredible opportunity; we must put our collective mission first, cast aside our differences, and start moving as one.

Civil society collaboration is challenging and complex – there are always competing agendas, perspectives, and outputs. You can watch the face of any person from a civil society organisation (CSO) explode in agony when you mention the thought of “coalition” work. Despite this, we all know that we must move together. MORE

Jeremy Osborn

28 June, 2016

The current blog theme is Digital Accountability, and our guest authors – digital experts from within the civil society sector – recently took part in a four-day CSO Accountability in the Digital Age workshop, facilitated by the INGO Accountability Charter.

INGO_CroppedHere they share the issues explored and outcomes established during this hands-on event. Today’s blog is the third in a series of five.


New approaches to digital campaigning and awareness-raising are enabling two-way dialogue between organisations and their supporters and volunteers, in turn strengthening both impact and accountability.

In 2016, two-way dialogue with members is the norm, so what does it mean to continue to ‘disrupt and innovate’ in this space? One important new frontier 350.org is working in is how to use the digital tools we have come to rely on for two-way supporter communication to enable accountability laterally across social movements.

350.org

These types of movement accountability are structured through relationships with individuals, networks, grassroots organisations, or other international civil society organisations (ICSOs), and in our experience can often spike around a tragedy or news headline that focuses attention across civil society. Some of the more pointed ‘disruptions’ that 350.org has made, breaking from the standard ICSO mode of operation, have been in response to these kind of major events, on issues that are typically defined outside of the climate movement. Staff who work at the intersection of issues have been able to draw out the interlinkages between different fights for change at important moments, demonstrate solidarity with other struggles, and ultimately contribute to building stronger impact for us all.
MORE

Virginie Coulloudon and Jed Miller

21 June, 2016

The current blog theme is Digital Accountability, and our guest authors – digital experts from within the civil society sector – recently took part in a four-day CSO Accountability in the Digital Age workshop, facilitated by the INGO Accountability Charter.

INGO_CroppedHere they share the issues explored and outcomes established during this hands-on event. Today’s blog is the second in a series of five.


As citizens in many democracies seek greater participation in public debate, international civil society organisations (ICSOs) are seeking a new model for advocacy: one where supporters become fuller participants in priority-setting and tactics, and where leadership demonstrates accountability to those participants on an ongoing basis.

“People power”, unleashed and expedited by newer technologies, can help ICSOs scale their impact – through crowdsourcing projects, for instance, that harness the input of thousands of unconnected individuals, or through networked campaigns that disseminate not only information but also campaign leadership across hundreds of small groups and thousands of miles.

People power enables ICSOs to augment or even replace traditional tools of advocacy. But many ICSOs – like the governments they work to persuade – remain too bureaucratic to pivot quickly, and too mired in hierarchy to convert grassroots ideas into programming decisions. Civil society leaders struggle to adjust, even when change can yield inspiration and a heightened sense of community.  MORE

Lauren Woodman

14 June, 2016

INGO_CroppedThe current blog theme is Digital Accountability, and our guest authors – digital experts from within the civil society sector – recently took part in a four-day CSO Accountability in the Digital Age workshop, facilitated by the INGO Accountability Charter.

Here they share the issues explored and outcomes established during this hands-on event. Today’s blog is the first in a series of five.

Digital_Accountability


In the not-too-distant past, concerned people who wanted to enact change had to work a lot harder to get involved: They had to find a civil society organisation (CSO) and go to meetings – in person! – and volunteer for committees or working groups. They might mail in a cheque and hope it was used to fund their initiative of choice. To reach others, they might canvas a neighborhood, petition in hand, knocking on doors and collecting signatures.

These types of actions are still valuable, to be sure. But thanks to the internet, the barrier of entry for activism is much, much lower. Online tools have created opportunities for an ever-increasing number of people to get involved in issues that matter to them. This can mean signing an online petition and sharing it on Facebook, starting a grassroots campaign on 350.org, or taking a local action to support the work of a global organisation. CSOs see the value in leveraging digital tools to connect people with information and action – not only can they mobilise and engage constituents more easily, they can benefit from the expertise and knowledge of millions of individuals. MORE

Alexia Skok

7 June, 2016

How leaders from some of the world’s most prominent civil society organisations (CSOs) ensure that poor and vulnerable people benefit from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Girls must be more effectively supported, people with disabilities better included, and civil society partnerships reinforced if we want to make significant headway towards fair and sustainable development, our experts say.

15-00128_UNSDG_Logo_2015_EN (1)

The announcement of the SDGs has sparked stirring dialogue across the development sector; the agreement of comprehensive, inclusive goals that ‘leave no one behind’ has put forward a new challenge, and inspired organisations and governments across the globe to commit to achieving a sustainable, equitable world.

But what does this mean for the implementation process? How does the sector ensure that the inspiring, people-oriented rhetoric is converted into concrete actions that actually achieve sustainable progress? Our blog theme for the last seven weeks featured leaders working within the new global framework sharing their experiences, concerns, and calls to action on the topic of SDG implementation. MORE

Dominic Haslam

31 May, 2016

One undeniable trend in the development sector over the last few years has been people talking more about disability. From the WHO/World Bank World Report on Disability in 2011, through DFID’s first Disability Framework in 2014, to the UN’s adoption of disability within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015; disability appears to have captured the development community’s imagination.

Continuing the trend, the International Centre for Evidence in Disabilities’ (ICED) third international symposium earlier this year – Disability in the SDGs: Forming Alliances and Building Evidence for the 2030 Agenda – had a record turnout. More than 300 people attended from around the world, and from the disability community, official development agencies, NGOs and academia. The symposium generated 67 recommendations for its call to action, many linked to the SDGs. Clearly, there is much to do. MORE

Mitchell Toomey

24 May, 2016

MY_WORLD_GOALSIn September of last year the world witnessed an historic moment – leaders from every member state of the United Nations unanimously ratified a bold and comprehensive 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This agreement emerged not only from the negotiating chambers at the UN but also from a radical and far reaching global conversation that eventually included more than ten million people and thousands of civil society organisations (CSOs), largely through the MY World 2015 survey. The mix of new and old techniques opened the negotiation process to a vivid display of the variety of experiences, knowledge and organisational forms which populate the civic space and left member states buoyed by the energy and enthusiasm of people worldwide, ultimately resulting in a far reaching, complex and ambitious agenda for action.

Thus, the new Goals carry in their DNA openness and inclusiveness, and it is this same spirit that will be required in order for member states to achieve them. The shared vision of the SDGs will be tested as governments lead the process for their implementation: It is critical that space is created for a broad range of actors beyond those traditionally involved in development-related decision processes, if the scale and ambition of the agenda – to leave no one behind – is to be realised. Through the MY World survey initiative for example we saw a massive engagement from young people worldwide (over 70% of survey respondents were under 30 years of age) we must continue to harness this energy to not just debate what the agenda should be but to drive the agenda forward, foster innovation and mobilise new actors. MORE

Patrick Watt

17 May, 2016

Asha* was just 13 when she was forced to move in with her aunts because her parents had to move away for work. Despite the change, she was optimistic. She was looking forward to starting secondary school – and felt lucky in a country, Tanzania, where three-quarters of girls don’t get more than a primary education.

But when Asha moved, her aunts broke the news that they could not pay for her school fees. Devastated, Asha had to drop out of school and put her future hopes on hold.

That same year, aged 13, she was forced to marry. Her husband quickly became abusive, beating her daily and often withholding food. Soon she was pregnant and felt like she lost all hope to continue her education.

It’s the situation of children like Asha, denied the right to survive and learn through a combination of poverty and discrimination, which has driven Save the Children to launch its new global campaign, Every Last Child.

RS54883_Save the Children Tanzania 1-4-13 Sala Lewis_Verve 043

We know the world has made unprecedented progress for children. Since 1990, the world has halved child mortality and the number of out-of-school children. But it’s also the case that there’s a huge unfinished agenda. Each year, over six million children die from preventable causes. Almost 60 million children remain out of primary school, and four times that number are in school but failing to learn. Increasingly, these children are being denied the opportunity to survive and learn because of who they are and where they live. We need new and innovative approaches to reach the most excluded children and deliver on the ambition set out in the Global Goals. MORE