RESILIENT ROOTS ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT

The Resilient Roots initiative tests whether organisations who are more accountable and responsive to their roots - namely, their primary constituents - are more resilient against external threats.

The initiative is coordinated by CIVICUS and funded by the Ford Foundation. Technical and strategic support is provided by Keystone Accountability and Accountable Now. An initial two-year pilot phase will run until the end of 2019.

The Challenge

While there is growing recognition among civil society organisations (CSOs) of the need to become more accountable, this often focuses on pleasing donors rather than meaningfully engaging and responding to the people and communities they are created to serve.

At the same time, an increasing number of governments are seeking to curtail civic action through challenging the legitimacy of CSOs, demonising them as disconnected special interest groups. What’s more, the typical ways CSOs demonstrate their accountability – through compliance with regulatory requirements and donor reporting – are unlikely to be sufficient to convince skeptical politicians or members of the public.

Can greater constituent accountability help organisations to counter closing civic spaces?

We believe that if civil society is accountable to and engaged with its constituency, it will be able to rely more upon them to come to its defense, bridge resourcing gaps, and safeguard its long-term sustainability when it is under political or structural attack.

Our bold approach will involve prioritising innovation, taking calculated risks, and embracing failure. We will employ an agile, developmental ethos to monitoring, learning and course correction, and share what we learn from the pilots with a broader community of interested stakeholders early and often. More specifically, the initiative will consist of three main components:

Are you interested in learning about how you can become a more accountable organisations to your primary constituents? Then check out what we've been learning in our blog!

1. Identify and support pilot projects

We are working with a number of CSOs across a range of locations and issues to help them design and rollout year-long accountability projects. Each organisation is receiving financial and technical support for the design, implementation, and ongoing review of their project. This includes interventions to develop capacity where needed.

Meet our accountability projects here:

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2. Boost accountability and test the link to resilience

We are working with the accountability projects to explore the factors and pathways which increase public support, build trust and increase legitimacy. This involves continuously assessing progress and adapting approaches. The projects also examine how these efforts affect their ability to deal with threats, thereby enabling us to develop a better, more nuanced understanding about the relationship between accountability and resilience, in different contexts.

Read our reflections so far about the links between constituent accountability and resilience.

2. Foster peer-learning and wider uptake

We are creating mechanisms and tools for ongoing peer-learning between the pilot projects and collating the lessons learned across the experiments. This evidence base will enable the production of resources that support other organisations to develop and adopt their own constituent accountability approaches, to achieve scale far beyond the original pilots.

Accountability Now. Global Standards Local Trust

Accountability at CIVICUS

Read about what accountability means to us and how we’re building it into our work.

If you want to find out more about what we aim to do and how we’re doing it, check out our Theory of Change and send us your feedback at resilientroots@civicus.org