By Marina Cherbonnier, CIVICUS member engagement specialist
Each year, CIVICUS Constituents are asked what they think about CIVICUS - a global alliance of over 8000 organisations, movements and individuals. It is our vision at CIVICUS to create a community of informed, inspired, committed citizens engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity. CIVICUS’ constituents are front and centre to this vision, so it is very important as we work together every year that we identify our successes, what can be improved and new ideas. This strengthens our work as an Alliance and helps us to be of greater impact and relevance.
Thank you to the 736 respondents who took the time to contribute their feedback, and if you have not done so, do not hesitate to use the CIVICUS feedback form to get in touch at any time during the year!
What we heard
The number of responses to the survey increased significantly - 60% increase compared to 2018 - but so did the number of members also. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) remained average (42), similar to the 2018 feedback. An NPS is graded on an index of -100 to 100 and captures respondents’ satisfaction about a specific matter or an organisation overall. This score could be partly due to the number of respondents who were still new members and therefore not able to provide a strong opinion about the alliance, as mentioned by some of them. The NPS from Spanish-speaking members dropped significantly and they expressed they do not feel close enough to what is happening with CIVICUS.
We also received a lot of positive feedback, particularly on who we are as a CIVICUS Alliance, the vision, the added value of it and the efforts to be member-led, inclusive, and accountable. The work around youth, advocacy, capacity development and support on funding and fundraising was also applauded. It is worth noting that it did not include direct funding only but also capacity development (e.g workshops) and networking as a means to help them boost their resource mobilisation. Finally, a lot of emphasis was made on CIVICUS being a great place to learn and better understand civil society and innovative ways to act, thanks to all the research, information and communications activities.
At the same time, and similarly to the previous year, what CIVICUS seems to be doing well is also what we need to improve on. Members have asked:
- To walk the talk as civil society in tackling the issues of competition and power dynamics within the sector.
- For more grassroot and decentralised outreach and work through regional and country chapters.
- To boost members engagement and the member-led governance of CIVICUS, with the need to broaden members engagement opportunities as well as making these opportunities more explicit and inclusive.
- To increase youth engagement, including stronger leadership and engagement of young members in CIVICUS programs and activities.
- For better fundraising support, particularly through stronger feedback to unsuccessful applicants and capacity building.
- For a series of specific causes for advocacy and capacity development needs as well as more information services and space for storytelling.
All this feedback will input into the on-going mid-term strategic review of CIVICUS and thus contribute to assessing the way forward on a strategic and programmatic level. The different thematic inputs will be shared with CIVICUS staff members based on their areas of expertise for more thorough consideration and integration in their work where possible. Indeed, one of the major limitations is that a number of members’ suggestions are mentioned once in the survey responses and we thus need to understand if they respond to a collective need or single demand. If the latter, we will assess to what extent we can respond to these and how we can prioritise them. This will be thoroughly discussed by voting members, including the board, and the CIVICUS secretariat, at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in November and over the coming months.
8 ways CIVICUS Constituents’ feedback led to action in 2019!
To respond to the key members asks and praises shared through the 2018 Annual Constituency Survey, the CIVICUS secretariat used the input to inform the annual strategy and took the following concrete actions:
- The secretariat has been thriving to build a true member-led organisational culture amongst staff and the alliance. It also focused on connecting members better as a community through collective action (e.g. through the International Civil Society Week, Democracy Dialogues and consultancies, engagement around the Human Rights Council, signed statements, the youth initiatives etc). This entailed increasing the ability for members to fully get involved and stay updated about CIVICUS activities through more open calls for action. We are thrilled to see the feeling of being part of a family of like-minded people working for a better world on a global, regional and national level only getting stronger!
- A new dedicated stream of work was designed and a coordinator recruited to ensure stronger diversity and inclusion practices within CIVICUS and wider civil society, and ultimately that no one is left behind and that everyone is given the space and capacity to take part.
- The CIVICUS Communications strategy and practices were revised to refocus the perspectives around CIVICUS as a global alliance while keeping up with providing fresh information on the role of civil society all around the world and how to engage better as civil society.
- While AGNA – the Affinity Group of National Associations - and the DataShift programme (for instance) are keeping up with building mutual learning, a new consultant was hired to explore ways to provide more opportunities to strengthen civil society capacities including through mentorship, as well as bringing more value to the numerous CIVICUS toolkits available online. The team aims to build capacity development programmes – and keep doing so in a participatory manner - around specific member engagement opportunities, in order to boost our impact as an alliance of members (e.g. in advocacy, public speaking, communications, digital security, human rights, community engagement, leadership, strategic thinking etc)
- The team has been striving to enhance impactful advocacy for ordinary citizens and keeping up with creating avenues for members to be part of key strategic discussions, by building synergy and inclusivity among members, especially through the CIVICUS @ the UN workstream.
- Along the design and implementation of a new membership policy, the team reassessed membership conditions and verification processes to make them both more inclusive and yet stronger to ensure the credibility of the alliance
- While CIVICUS staff was recognised by members for being inspiring, transparent, warm and knowledgeable, the team yet focused on building stronger feedback mechanisms and loops (check the annual constituency survey process, for instance) to strengthen two-way communications with members. More is yet to come to not only boost two-way secretariat to members communications but also members-to-members communications, which will be key in the upcoming year!
- Boosting action on national and regional levels and creating more networking abilities and opportunities between members and partners are landmarks for the second phase of the strategic plan 2017-2022, starting now!