Civil society

CIVIL SOCIETY: How to resource it right?
The Civil society starvation cycle is comprised of “Unrealistic funder expectations, Pressure on Civil society to conform; followed by, Misleading reporting and Overhead phobia”.
Donors tend to reward organizations with the leanest profiles. They also prioritize their funding towards programmatic activities. Civil society leaders feel pressure to conform to donors’ expectations by spending as little as possible on overhead and by reporting lower-than-actual overhead rates. Ultimately, it is the beneficiaries who suffer. Even the most successful Civil society organizations are not immune to the starvation cycle.

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda

Civil society

CIVIL SOCIETY: How to resource it right?
Even the most elegant strategy is useless if it can’t be fully and effectively implemented. That’s why both donors and grantees need to understand and agree on just what it will take to achieve the outcomes they seek. And then ensure that the necessary resources are committed to the effort.
But experience has shown that no one wants to pay for overhead, as a result, many organizations are trapped in a “starvation cycle”. The cycle begins with donors (public as well as private) who have unrealistically low assumptions about what it actually costs to run an organization. Organizations depend on external funding, they feel obliged to conform to those unrealistic expectations insofar as humanly possible. For that matter, they cut overhead to the bone and underreport administrative expenditures. Unfortunately, this only serves to reinforce the unrealistically low assumptions that kicked off the cycle in the first place.
Donors expect grantees to do more and more with less and less, and the organization is starved for the resources necessary to deliver results.

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda

Civil society

CIVIL SOCIETY: How ineffective collaboration undermines philanthropic results for society, and what can be done about it?
How can donors and grantees learn to work well together? Reduced to the essentials, there are three imperatives of effective collaboration – for which both parties must share responsibility. They are resource it right, make sure that the grantee has what it takes to get the job done. Pursue partnership, develop shared goals and a productive working relationship (which demands a certain level of strategic clarity and a reasonable “cost-of-capital” burden on the grantee). Get better together, create the necessary conditions for learning and continuous improvement. These imperatives appear simple; experience has shown, however, that following them almost always requires confronting – and overcoming – some deeply ingrained dynamics, assumptions and behaviors.

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda

Civil society

CIVIL SOCIETY: What level and sources of funding for civil society stakeholders?
When the economic growth is robust, corporations, governments and individuals are more willing and able to give charities, provide official development assistance and invest in civil society activities. Weak economic growth creates the opposite dynamic.
“Governments should view civil society not as a threat but as an asset. A genuine democracy is like a three-legged stool. One leg is responsive, accountable government; the second leg a dynamic job-creating private sector; and the third leg is a robust and vibrant civil society.” by Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State (Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society 2012 Summit, Washington DC: US Department of State)

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda

Civil society

CIVIL SOCIETY: Where will our funding come from?
Indeed this is a strategic concern of any Civil society leader!
Financial sustainability is the top priority for organizations dealing with budget cuts and the shifting priorities of the donor community. Civil society leaders identified competition for resources and visibility as a key barrier for effectiveness. Several opportunities have been identified and even a necessity to rationalize and/or merge organizations in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Online technology, which can connect funders and beneficiaries, or individuals and causes, cutting out the middleman, is perceived as a significant challenge to traditional business models of international civil society organizations. Overall it is felt that, in this period of great uncertainty, and when resource competition is driving division, the sector would benefit from greater cohesion.

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda

Civil

CIVIL SOCIETY: What are its roles?
Civil society roles include:
Watchdog/whistle blowers (Value Promoters), holding institutions to account, promoting transparency and accountability.
Advocate, raising awareness of societal issues and challenges and advocating for change.
Service provider, delivering services to meet societal needs such as education, health, food and security; implementing disaster management, preparedness and emergency response.
Expert, bringing unique knowledge and experience to shape policy and strategy, identifying and building solutions.
Capacity builder, providing education, training and other capacity building.
Incubator, developing solutions that may require a long gestation or payback period.
Representative, giving power to the voice of the marginalized or under-represented.
Citizenship champion, encouraging citizen engagement and supporting the rights of of citizens.
Solidarity supporter, promoting fundamental and universal values.
Definer of standards, creating norms that shape market and state activity.

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda

Civil society

CIVIL SOCIETY: Who belongs to it?
While descriptions vary across institutions the civil society ecosystem typically includes:
NGOs, non-profit organizations and civil society organizations (CSOs) that have an organized structure or activity and are typically registered entities and groups.
On-line groups and activities including social media communities that can be organized but do not necessarily have physical, legal or financial structures.
Social movements of collective action and/or identity, which can be on-line or physical.
Religious leaders, faith communities, and faith-based organizations.
Labour unions and Labour organizations representing workers.
Social entrepreneurs employing innovative and/or market oriented approaches for social and environmental outcomes.
Grassroots associations and activities at local level.
Cooperatives owned and democratically controlled by their members.
Here the focus is on civil society actors working positively to reduce societal harms and increase societal benefits. They aim to improve social cohesion; increase levels of economic and social development; reduce the burdens of poverty, ill-health and inequality; promote the interests of marginalized groups; extend the protection of social, civil and political rights; protect the environment, and provide services such as health, education and other forms of community development.

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda

Civil society

CIVIL SOCIETY: How do we define it?
A generally accepted and officially authorized definition of the civil society organizations does not exist, but according to the United Nations, civil society organizations are the following: “Not-for-profit, voluntary citizen groups, organized on a local, national and international level in order to raise public interest issues. Fully oriented and created by individuals with common interests, they perform various services and humanitarian functions; they represent the needs of the citizens before the governing structures, monitor the policies and programmes implementation and support the participation of the civil society sector on a community level.
On the other hand, CIVICUS defines the civil society as the space amid the family, state and the market, where people join in order to express their interests, by this definition one may conclude that the formal as well as the informal associations and networks are inclusive.

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda

Civil society

Dear keen reader, have you ever stopped and deeply thought about the Civil Society sector as a serious employer of any given State in the world over? And that, for any Civil society to thrive in its roles and and responsibilities of public interest, it is the priority of a given focused State? Which state is willing to commit even its resources for this noble cause? Dear keen reader, do you strongly believe that Civil Society is a complementary sector to the government, business and family at its best?

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda

Civil society

Birungi K. Desiderius
077 2 426 607
Executive Director
Better World Uganda
P. O. Box 406, Hoima-Uganda