The origins of the classic CSI

From its inception in 1993, CIVICUS has sought to make a significant contribution to recording the rise of civil society around the world, and to build a knowledge base on civil society by civil society. In an early initiative, we published The New Civic Atlas in 1997, a compilation of civil society profiles from 60 countries around the world. The New Civic Atlas provided concise and current information on the basic features of civil society in these countries; however, it lacked consistency with regard to the issues covered.

In 1998, when the possibility of an updated version of The New Civic Atlas was raised, feedback from our members was for a more rigorous comparative framework of analysis that would allow lessons to be drawn across countries. Responding to this feedback, our then Secretary General Kumi Naidoo presented a proposal to the CIVICUS Board recommending an exploratory consultative process for the development of a Civil Society Index.

In 1999, we developed a concept and conducted a number of consultations around the world. One participant described the project as “an exercise in madness,” highlighting the context-specific nature of civil society, insufficient data on the topic in many countries and the absence of a widely accepted definition of civil society. Others felt the time was right for such an initiative, notwithstanding the numerous challenges of the project design.

In September 1999, at the CIVICUS World Assembly in Manila, Philippines, Kumi Naidoo presented the Diamond Tool, developed by Professor Helmut Anheier, then Director of the Centre for Civil Society at the London School of Economics, UK, as the preliminary methodological design for the CSI project, for acceptance by our members and partners.

Subsequent to the Manila World Assembly, and with financial assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Netherlands Organisation for International Development Cooperation (NOVIB) and the Commonwealth Foundation, CIVICUS developed a fully-fledged project design and hired dedicated human resources to move the project forward into its pilot phase and tehntwo full phases, from 2003 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011.

 

How are the CSI-RA teams composed?

The CSI-RA project is implemented by three main bodies that interact and coordinate. These are: The National Coordination Organisation/Coalition (NCO/NCC), National Implementation Team (NIT) and the Advisory Group (AG). CIVICUS, in consultation with NCO/NCC, selects and supervises members of the NIT. The AG works closely with the NCO/NCC and shares the lead in convening civil society and other stakeholders during the implementation.
In addition, the CSI-RA project would normally involve the participation of regional or thematic Focus Groups. Focus Groups help ensure that regional or sectoral concerns, needs, interests and realities are taken into consideration and reflected.

 

Partner selection criteria

In selecting project partners, we will seek CSOs that meet the following criteria: have a mandate and track record in convening civil society; are rooted in the local context and are connected with their public and peers; and have some experience of participatory research or have the ability to partner with a local organisation with such expertise. In addition we seek partners that are independent of government and political parties and demonstrate commitment to the values of CIVICUS as a global and progressive civil society alliance.

 

Implementing the CSI-RA

As described in other sections, the CSI-RA is meant to be a flexible and adaptable tool. The project partners, through broad-based consultative and participative processes, will identify the main focus of the assessment, and the project’s goal and expected results. Once this first step has taken place and the main purpose of the assessment has been clarified and agreed, CIVICUS, together with the core project team, will facilitate an adaptation process of the methodology that will conclude with a concrete project work plan and proceed to implementation.

The CSI-RA is implemented in several steps, as described below. It is important to remember throughout that due to the flexibility of the CSI-RA, the process needs to be adapted to contextual needs and particularities, both in the activities and timeframe.

Step 1. Initiation
In the initiation phase of the project, potential partners approach CIVICUS with the intention of forming a CSI-RA partnership. The potential partners are reviewed according to partnership criteria, in consultation, when required, with CIVICUS alliance members and peer reviewers. Once the partnership is formalised, a National Implementation Team and an Advisory Group are established by either a National Coordination Organisation or Coalition of organisations, and it is then that the consultations and dialogue about the motivations, areas of assessment and outputs of the CSI-RA begin, along with any fundraising required.

Step 2. Adaptation
Once funding is secured, and the initial consultations have taken place, CIVICUS conducts an intensive two to three day adaptation workshop in which the project partners agree on the objectives, expected results and areas of focus of the project. At this stage quantitative indicators may be set. The project partner and CIVICUS sign off on the design, methodology and timeline of the project implementation.  

Step.3. Implementation
During this phase the project partners implement the project, applying the process and data collection methods agreed in the previous phase and analysing the data collected. CIVICUS gives technical support and advice when needed.  Once the project outputs are achieved, the partners agree on the recommendations and the strategy to take them forward.

Step.4. Action
In the final phase of the project, the partners elaborate a country report and an action plan, identifying as part of this the potential partners for its implementation and further funding. The project outputs are published and disseminated locally by the partners, while CIVICUS does the same internationally through its websites, events and networks.

An evaluation to assess the impact of the project should be held as part of this final stage.

 

What can the CSI-RA measure?

The CSI-RA is flexible in nature and allows each project partner to make an assessment of what they want to measure and which dimensions they wish to focus on, according to the particular context. The project partners will draw up the project goals, objectives and areas of focus. It will be the partner’s role, together with our assistance, to adapt and reformulate the CSI-RA indicators based on local realities and specificities.

Some of the possible areas of assessment include the following:

  • The enabling environment for civil society
  • Power relations within civil society
  • The level of institutionalisation of civil society
  • Civil society’s practice of values
  • Perceptions of civil society impact
  • Civil society resourcing
  • Participation and activism

 

Potential uses of the CSI-RA

The CSI-RA is a flexible tool that helps measure the state of civil society in any given context. The CSI-RA places high value on supporting a process in which civil society partners improve their capacities to cooperate with other CSOs, undertake research and analysis and better understand their reality and challenges and seek to improve them.

The objective of the CSI-RA is to support civil society self-assessments in order to enhance the strength and sustainability of civil society for positive social change. In doing so it intends to help civil society to better assess its strengths, challenges, potentials and needs in a range of different situations and contexts, contributing to: strengthening the evidence base for civil society advocacy; providing a platform for civil society to identify shared needs; and assisting the planning and strategising of civil society around common challenges and opportunities.

The development of CSI-RA was guided by underlying principles of representativeness, transparency and accountability, legitimacy, inclusiveness and participation. These underlying principles should guide the application and adaptation of the CSI-RA to different contexts.


The CSI-RA rests on the idea that any assessment of civil society should be shaped and owned by civil society partners. The participatory nature of the CSI-RA further requires the inclusion of a broad number of partners in the conception, adaptation and implementation of the project, in order to make it broadly representative and ensure local ownership.

Different partners will have different roles and responsibilities throughout the project’s life as described below, although some flexibility is envisaged in the designation and composition of each partnership, depending on the specific needs and objectives of the context.

 

History and Origins of the CSI-RA

CSI-RA History & Origins

Since its beginnings CIVICUS has strived to make a significant contribution to understanding the evolution of civil society around the world and to building a knowledge base of civil society issues through civil society led and owned research. The first step towards achieving this was the compilation of civil society profiles from 60 countries around the world in the New Civic Atlas, published in 1997.

The Civil Society Index (CSI) was an effort to improve on this initial compilation and move towards a more rigorous and comparative framework of analysis that would allow lessons to be drawn across countries. CIVICUS, with financial assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Netherlands Organisation for International Development Cooperation (NOVIB) and the Commonwealth Foundation, began to design the CSI, which moved to its piloting phase in 2001. Two full phases were held between 2003 and 2006 and 2008 and 2011.

Informed by the most recent series of CSI findings, CIVICUS sees that in many countries CSOs exist in a state of heightened volatility, flux and disconnect, with the paradigms that shaped definitions of civil society and relations between state, market, media, civil society and other social actors in the late 20th century all coming into renewed questioning.

CIVICUS acknowledges that there is need for a more inclusive understanding of civil society in order to encompass all facets of participation, including those represented by new social and protest movements and online activists, that came to the fore in 2010 and beyond, and that can be seen to be playing a valuable role in promoting democracy, good governance, social justice and human rights beyond the spheres of markets or governments.

In response to this, in 2012 CIVICUS developed our new Civil Society Rapid Assessment tool, with the aim of better understanding and supporting the new forms and dynamics that are defining civil society in different contexts.

 

About CSI

The Civil Society Rapid Assessment (CSI-RA)

Informed by our findings from the previous Civil Society Index (CSI) phase, CIVICUS sees that in many countries, civil society organisations (CSOs) exist today in a state of heightened volatility, flux and disconnect. There is a pressing need to continue to take a fresh look at what civil society is and does, and to adapt measurement tools more to local contexts in order to capture better the changing nature of civil society.

Based on this understanding, CIVICUS now offers an additional and new civil society rapid assessment (CSI-RA) tool, based on a more flexible and adaptable methodology to help civil society better assess its strengths, challenges, potentials and needs in a range of different situations and contexts. The CSI-RA can also help to promote cooperation and networking within civil society and with other stakeholders, improve CSOs’ credibility towards their constituencies, monitor and assess the environment in which civil society operates and inform alternatives for improving CSOs’ planning and performance.

The flexibility of the CSI-RA allows the project’s partners to decide on what their most important expected result is and adapt the methodology accordingly, focusing on one or more dimensions of the civil society reality in order to deliver the best value towards the most important process or desired change.

CIVICUS is currently piloting this new methodology in the Gambia, Sierra Leone and Tunisia, with the support of the Commonwealth Foundation, IBIS and the United Nations Development Programme, and we seek to offer additional pilots in different regions of the world, working with partners to fundraise, apply, monitor and evaluate the methodology. If you are interested in additional information about the CSI-RA, including in applying it in your context, please contact .

Read more about the CSI - RA


 

The classic Civil Society Index (CSI):

The CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) is a participatory needs assessment and action-planning tool for civil society, which has the aim of creating a knowledge base and momentum for civil society strengthening initiatives. The classic CSI has been implemented over the past ten years in more than 75 countries.

Compared to the new CSI-RA, the classic CSI has a more fixed methodology and requires more time and resources, as it attempts to assess the entire spectrum of civil society experience across five dimensions: the organisational structure of civil society, civic engagement, perception of impact, practice of values and the enabling environment. It also seeks to enable international comparisons between the state of civil society in different countries.

The CSI is initiated and implemented by, and for, civil society organisations at the country level, and actively involves, and disseminates its findings to, a broad range of stakeholders, including government, donors, academics and the public. The two primary goals of the CSI are to enhance the strength and sustainability of civil society, and to strengthen civil society’s contribution to positive social change.

The classic CSI is still available for those partners that seek to have a fully comprehensive look at civil society focussing on the five dimensions mentioned above.

For more information about the classic CSI please contact .

Read more about the classic CSI here.

 

CSI Reports (2010)

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The Civil Society Index is proud to announce the completion and release of twenty-five (25) new reports in the latest round.

The reports are available below (click name of country to download):

 

 

Oceania Country Reports

Fiji
New Zealand

 

Americas Country Reports

 

CSI Methodology

CSI Methodology

The CSI is an action-research project that aims to assess the state of civil society in countries around the world. Civil society is a complex concept, so the task of defining the concept, identifying civil society’s essential features and designing a strategy to assess and improve its state is in itself a complex and potentially controversial process.

Given the current lack of consensus around how to define and assess civil society, the CSI’s analytical framework seeks to include a broad range of perspectives leading to a multi-disciplinary approach and a comprehensive assessment framework based on 5 core dimensions displayed in the CSI Diamond.

The Diamond seeks to portray an empirical picture of the state of civil society, covering structural and normative manifestations, but also encompassing the conditions that support or inhibit civil society's development as well as the consequences of civil society's activities for society at large. It gathers quantitative information and enables comparison, not only over time, but also across countries, between a region and a country, in a particular field or in civil society as a whole. Only quantitative data feeds into the diamond, where the higher the percentage the better the civil society on the various indicators in a country.

Besides the CSI Diamond, case studies provide qualitative information, by exploring specific issues in depth. As such, they are a major input to the development of policy strategies and recommendations at the end of the process.

The CSI methodology has been revised over time to provide more objectivity and be more action-oriented.

For a more comprehensive explanation of the main features of the CSI’s conceptual framework and methodological approach during Phase 1 (2003-2006), please see: CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Assessing and Strengthening Civil Society Worldwide (Volkhart Finn Heinrich) - [PDF] [735 KB] or download Introduction [PDF] [57 KB].

For a comprehensive description of the CSI’s revised methodology during Phase 2 (2008-2010), please see: Assessing and Strengthening Civil Society Worldwide - An updated programme description of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Phase 2008 to 2010. (Jacob M. Mati, Federico Silva and Tracy Anderson)  [PDF] [435KB]

For detailed information on the CSI implementation framework, please see the Implementation page of the CSI section of the CIVICUS website

 

Indicator Database

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In implementing the CSI, national civil society organisations and stakeholders make use of qualitative and quantitative research methods to create an assessment of the state of civil society in their country. This assessment is then used to collectively set goals and create an agenda for strengthening civil society in the future.
The results of the CSI implementation are available through various reports (Analytical Country Report, Policy Action Brief, Case Studies). The data and results captured in these reports is collected in the Civil Society Index Indicator Database, which was developed in order to ensure the availability of civil society data collected through the CSI programme to a global audience.

To this end, the CSI Indicator Database is:

  • easily accessible online
  • searchable by country, dimension and individual indicator
  • available free of charge

All you need to do is set up your username and password and start searching!
The Civil Society Index is currently being implemented in over 50 countries. As the data is still being processed and reports will be published soon, the indicator database currently presents the results of the previous implementation phase, spanning from 2003 to 2006. It will be updated in the future.

Access the CSI Indicator Database


 

CSI implementation

CSI Implementation

Project Implementation Stages:

1. Project Implementation

2.1 Identify Advisory Committee (AC) Members & Establish AC (formerly the NAG)

The National Implementation Team (NIT) carries out a preliminary stakeholder analysis and identifies the 12-20 individuals to form the in-country Advisory Committee (AC), which should represent diverse civil society and other stakeholder groups. The AC’s primary role is to provide overall guidance and assistance to the NIT in implementing the project. AC members should act as ‘ambassadors’ for the CSI and are expected to raise awareness and build support for the CSI among their constituencies and the broader public.

2.2 Hold 1st AC Meeting

The broad objectives of the first AC meeting are to invite feedback, validation and make decisions on conducted and upcoming research activities; Construct a Perception Diamond: The purpose of this exercise is to set a perception baseline of the current state of civil society that will be compared with the CSI project findings.

2.3 Conduct Organisational Survey and Analyse Data

The purpose of the organisational survey is to fill data gaps at the meso-level relating to the operations and governance of CSOs, among other items. These data will help to assess primarily three of the dimensions: Level of Organisation, Practice of Values, and Perception of Impact.

2.4 Conduct External Perceptions Survey and Analyse Data

One of the most important dimensions, but perhaps also the most difficult to establish, is the impact of civil society. One way to answer this within the CSI is a survey of 30-50 stakeholders and experts in key sectors about their perception of civil society’s impact.

2.5 Conduct Population Survey and Analyse Data

If current data are not available (e.g., World Values Survey 2005) on, among other items, the value dispositions of individuals, their activities within civil society, and their attitudes towards civil society, CIVICUS recommends that the NCO implement a population survey in order to ensure data comparability and to use the most up-to-date information to inform the country report and policy brief.

2.6 Assemble Data and Construct Civil Society Diamond

Once all primary data collection is completed, the NIT should assemble all quantitative findings from the surveys and secondary data sources and enter the results in the CSI Indicator Data Matrix.

2.7 Conduct Case Studies and Draft Case Study Report

The case studies are the qualitative counterpart to the Diamond, and allow the NCO to conduct an in-depth, systematic analysis of specific issues or aspects that might not be captured adequately by the quantitative data and to draw out and explore the strengths and weaknesses of civil society.  As such, the case studies are not an optional part of the CSI methodology, but rather a critical input to develop a more complete picture of the state of civil society.

2.8 Hold Regional Focus Group Meetings

The objective of the regional focus group meetings are to couple research with action. The regional focus group discussions should concentrate on comparing the findings of the research (see Data Diamond) to the Perception Diamond generated by the AC at the onset of the project. Furthermore, the discussion should explore the main strengths and weaknesses of civil society in the country.

2.9 Hold 2nd AC Meeting

Once the data collection and the focus group meetings are completed, the AC should be brought together again to review and discuss as a group the findings. The purposes of this meeting are to place the findings in the context of the initial perceptions discussion, to assess the validity of the findings, and to define possible ways forward to be discussed at the National Workshop.

3. Project Validation, Analysis and Dissemination

3.1 Preparing and Holding the National Workshop

The National Workshop aims to bring together a broad range of civil society actors and partners in government, the business community, media, the donor community and academia to discuss the CSI findings, identify strengths and weaknesses of civil society and plan appropriate strengthening initiatives.  It is meant to build a common understanding of the current state of civil society and a joint action agenda for civil society strengthening initiatives.

3.2 Data Analysis and Drafting Project Outputs

The two main outputs of the CSI are the Analytical Country Report and the Policy Action Brief. Both documents should be produced in the local language and in English, the cost for which would also need to be reflected in the project budget. The action brief, which is aimed at policy makers and a general audience, should present, in no more than 10 pages, the main findings, strengths, weaknesses and action agenda for the strengthening of civil society.

3.3 Dissemination

As a basic start in disseminating the results of the CSI implementation process, the analytical country report can be shared with key stakeholders, as identified by the NCO, whereas the action brief should be used for wider dissemination as the analytical country report will provide a greater level of detail and will serve as reference mostly for the actors that would be directly involved in steering the process for implementation of key recommendations and civil society strengthening activities. A press conference should be held to publicly launch the action brief. This event should be promoted via press release sent to the relevant media.

3.4 Evaluation

Thorough evaluation of the CSI implementation process should be undertaken with a view to answering the following questions:

  1. How would you assess the CSI implementation process?
  2. How would you evaluate CIVICUS’ coordination and assistance?

 

Phase 2 (2008-2010)

CSI Reports Phase 2: 2008 - 2010

Interim Phase (2008)

After the first phase was completed, an interim phase using the same version of the methodology was implemented in early 2008 and sponsored by UNDP to focus on the state of civil society in six African countries. The methodology was then again evaluated and revised in order to develop a new phase (2008-2010) that currently takes place in 56 countries.

CSI Phase 2 (2008 – 2010)

We are now into the second phase of the CSI project, with over 50 participating countries. Find out more about the full programme description, implementation process and analytical framework of the Civil Society Index of Phase 2 (2008-2010) here: Assessing and Strengthening Civil Society Worldwide - An updated programme description of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Phase 2008 to 2010. (Jacob M. Mati, Federico Silva and Tracy Anderson) Downloadable in pdf [435KB] (April 2010)

You are also invited to visit the CSI blog for recent programme updates and other information for civil society practitioners and stakeholders.

Find out more about CSI publications during Phase 2 on the CSI Publications page.

 

Phase 1 (2003-2006)

CSI Reports Phase 1: 2003 - 2006

Revision of the CSI project framework – 2002

To gain a thorough understanding of the pilot phase’s achievements and challenges, an independent consultative evaluation study was conducted by Srilatha Batliwala Research Fellow with the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University, involving the country partners, CIVICUS staff and board members and external experts. The evaluation found that “the Index project is an innovative, contextually flexible, empowering and uniquely participatory tool for self-assessment by civil society stakeholders of the state of civil society in their countries. The Index as currently designed, however, has certain weaknesses in methodology that must be modified before it is further applied…[t]hese flaws are largely amenable to remedy and re-design.”

The CIVICUS Board of Directors formally adopted the recommendation of the evaluator to continue the project and address the project’s shortcomings, which was the focus of the subsequent re-design phase, in which CIVICUS contracted Carmen Malena as a Senior Research Consultant. From March to November 2002, the project methodology and framework were revisited and the project team made the proposed changes to improve the validity, comparability and action-orientation of the CSI project. The proposed framework was presented and discussed at a two-day workshop in July 2002, in Cape Town, South Africa, which brought together an international group of 20 civil society researchers and practitioners. The recommendations of the workshop led to the production of a final project framework, completed in October 2002, which provided the foundation for the development of a comprehensive project implementation toolkit.

Implementation Phase

In November 2002, with the revised project framework in place, CIVICUS issued a call for statements of interest from organizations to apply as country partners for the 2003-05 CSI implementation phase. During the next months, CIVICUS received over 90 applications from more than 70 countries. This was three times the expected number of applications. It gave an indication of the relevance and timeliness of the CSI tool for a wide range of countries, from the global South to post-communist to OECD-countries.

After a thorough desk and peer review, CIVICUS accepted applications from 68 organisations in 65 countries. To make the process more manageable and to accommodate the different timing preferences of the NCOs, the CSI implementation phase was broken up into three rounds, commencing in April, July and December 2003 respectively.

In 2004, CIVICUS developed the CIVICUS Civil Society Index – Shortened Assessment Tool (CSI-SAT), which was based on the original CSI design, but in a shorter, less extensive and less resource-intensive process to assess the state of civil society. The CSI-SAT was particularly relevant in countries where there was a substantive amount of secondary data available on civil society, and sometimes also served as a useful preparatory activity for a full CSI implementation at a later stage.

The phase spanned from 2003 to 2006, with the CSI being implemented in 53 countries worldwide. The CSI team worked with country partners to assist them in completing the project and in drafting country reports. In mid 2006 the country reports were compiled into the first volume of The Global Report on the State of Civil Society: Findings from the CIVICUS Civil Society Index Project. Launched in 2007, it provides concise and informative overviews of the state of civil society in participating countries. In Volume Two (The Global Report on the State of Civil Society: Comparative Perspectives), which was launched in 2008, readers can find a wide-ranging analysis of key issues facing civil society worldwide. You can find more information, including how to order a copy of these books, on the CSI Publications webpage.

Find out more about the full project description, implementation process and analytical framework of the Civil Society Index of Phase 1 (2003-2006) here: Assessing and Strengthening Civil Society Worldwide - A project description of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index. (Volkhart Finn Heinrich) Downloadable in pdf [669KB] (March 2004). Introduction available here [59KB]

Brief summary of the main features of the CSI’s conceptual framework and methodological approach: Summary of CSI Methodology and Conceptual Framework. Downloadable in pdf [93KB] (Published 2003)

Find out more about CSI publications during the Phase 1 on the CSI Publications page.

Country Partners (2003-2006)

Africa

Egypt
Ghana
Mozambique
Nigeria
Sierra Leone
South Africa

Americas

Argentina
Bolivia
Canada
Chile
Ecuador
Guatemala
Honduras
Jamaica
Mexico
Uruguay

Asia

Armenia
Azerbaijan
China
Cyprus
Georgia
Hong Kong
India (Orissa)
Indonesia
Lebanon
Mongolia
Nepal
Pakistan

Europe

Belarus
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech Republic
Estonia
Germany
Greece
Italy
Macedonia
Montenegro
Northern Ireland
Poland
Romania
Russia
Scotland
Serbia
The Netherlands
Ukraine
Wales

Oceania

Fiji
New Zealand

 

Pilot Phase (2000-2002)

CSI Reports Pilot Phase: 2000 - 2002

In March 2000, CIVICUS issued a request for statements of interest to organisations interested in participating as CSI country partner-organisations in the CSI’s pilot phase. The pilot phase began in October 2000 in thirteen countries worldwide. The selection of country partners was based on each organisation’s expression of interest and an assessment of their capability rather than on strategic or methodological considerations. This led to a strong representation by Central and Eastern European countries, where a civil society needs assessment and action-planning project was regarded as relevant and timely.

The global co-ordination of the pilot implementation phase was financially support by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Commonwealth Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and NOVIB. In February 2001, a capacity-building workshop was held for the country partners in Mainz, Germany. The national partners completed the data collection and analysis, then presented their findings at the CIVICUS World Assembly in Vancouver in August 2001, and produced country reports, which are available on the country pages. CIVICUS published a reflection paper on the pilot phase, available on the CSI Publications page of the CSI website. Find out more about CSI publications during the Pilot Phase on the CSI Publications page. Country Partners (2000-2002)

Africa

South Africa

Americas

Canada
Mexico
Uruguay

Asia

Indonesia
Pakistan

Europe

Belarus
Croatia
Estonia
Romania
Ukraine
Wales

Oceania

New Zealand

 

The Origins of the CSI

CSI History & Origins

From its inception in 1993, CIVICUS strove to make a significant contribution to recording the rise of civil society around the world, and to build a knowledge base of civil society-related issues. To achieve this, CIVICUS published The New Civic Atlas in 1997, a compilation of civil society profiles for 60 countries around the world. The New Civic Atlas provided concise and current information on the basic features of civil society in these countries; however, it lacked consistency with regard to the issues covered.

In 1998, when the possibility of an updated version of The New Civic Atlas was raised, some members voiced their preference for a more rigorous comparative framework of analysis that would allow valuable lessons to be drawn across countries. Responding to this feedback, the then Secretary General and CEO of CIVICUS, Kumi Naidoo, presented a proposal to the CIVICUS Board recommending an exploratory consultative process for the development of a Civil Society Index.

In 1999, CIVICUS developed a concept note, distributed it to its members and partners and conducted a number of consultations around the world. One participant described the project as “an exercise in madness,” highlighting the contextual nature of civil society, insufficient data on the topic in many countries and the absence of a widely accepted definition of civil society. Others felt the time was right for such an initiative, notwithstanding the numerous challenges of the project design.

In September 1999, at the CIVICUS World Assembly in Manila, Kumi Naidoo presented the Diamond Tool, developed by Professor Helmut Anheier, then Director of the Centre for Civil Society at the London School of Economics (LSE), as the preliminary methodological design for the CSI project, for acceptance by CIVICUS members and partners. Even though the four-dimensional approach of the Diamond Tool did not generate an Index in the strict technical sense of a single additive score, CIVICUS employed a broader interpretation of the term “Index” as concise and comparable information on a phenomenon in different contexts and consequently retained the project’s name, the CIVICUS Civil Society Index. Subsequent to the Manila World Assembly, and with financial assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Netherlands Organisation for International Development Cooperation (NOVIB) and the Commonwealth Foundation, CIVICUS developed a fully-fledged project design and hired dedicated human resources to move the project forward.

 

Perceived Impact

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The extent to which civil society is able to impact on the social and policy arena, according to internal and external perceptions.

Armenia Case Study: Impact of Environmental Organisations on Policy Change

As part of the CSI project in 2008-2010, the CSI Partner in Armenia, Counterpart International, has published a case study on the Impact of Environmental Organisations on Policy Change in Armenia. The study looks into the lobbying and campaigning activities of the environmental CSOs in order to get their issues on the decision makers’ agendas. Armenian CSOs’ relationship with government entities has improved through this lobbying and government increasingly solicits CSOs’ input on various policies that have environmental implications.

The study found that environmental CSOs have a wide range of partners they work with in Armenia and abroad and this has given them the ability to lobby and campaign for policy change with more support. In order for the CSOs to be more effective, it was found that it was imperative that they use a proactive strategy and not one that is reactive to the policies already  implemented.

To read the full case study click here

Find out more about all CSI findings in Armenia here.

 

Level of Organisation

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The degree of institutionalisation that characterises civil society (measured through an analysis of civil society organisations)
Armenia Case Study: Financial Sustainability

While implementing the CSI in Armenia in 2008-2010, Counterpart International found controversial findings concerning CSO’s financial sustainability. While their organisational survey showed that 88.5% of Armenian CSOs were financially secure institutionally, this figure contradicted the results from all previous surveys carried out in Armenia on this subject.

As a consequence, they decided to do a case study about the financial sustainability of Armenian CSOs in order to clarify this contradiction. They discuss the findings in one of their video diaries that can be found here.

To read the full case study click here.

 

Civic Engagement

The extent to which individuals engage in social and policy-related initiatives
Palestine: Engaging with Local Communities and Better Meeting their Needs

In Palestine, implementing the CSI has led to a better consideration of local community needs and marginalised people. The Bisan Centre for Research and Development (BCRD) implemented the CSI in 2003-2006 and, as Eileen Kuttab, Acting Director General of BCRD, explains (October 2009):

“The CSI has exposed the internal problematics of relations of NGOs with [the] local community, so I think that this gap is being more monitored and more emphasis is put on finding creative policies to reach marginalised groups through opening programmes that permit equal opportunities and equal access to all groups and sectors of community.”

Clearly, civil society organisations are changing their practices based on such findings. In short, some of the most successful recommendations that were implemented in Palestine are “[engaging] more with people” and “[conducting] projects that are more relevant to community practices.” By listening more to community needs, civil society organisations can do better work in Palestine.

Find out more about all CSI findings in Palestine here.

 

Introduction to the CSI

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Diamond2Civil society is playing an increasingly important role in governance and development around the world. In most countries, however, knowledge about the state and shape of civil society is limited, and there are few opportunities for civil society stakeholders to come together to discuss and reflect on the current state of civil society and the challenges it is facing. The CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) is a participatory needs assessment and action planning tool for civil society around the world, with the aim of creating a knowledge base and momentum for civil society strengthening initiatives. The CSI is initiated and implemented by, and for, civil society organizations at the country level, and actively involves, and disseminates its findings, to a broad range of stakeholders including: government, donors, academics and the public at large. The two primary goals of the CSI are to enhance the strength and sustainability of civil society, and to strengthen civil society’s contribution to positive social change. To achieve these goals, civil society stakeholders make use of participatory and other research methods to create an assessment of the state of civil society. This assessment is then used to collectively set goals and create an agenda for strengthening civil society in the future.

For more information about the CSI please contact

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