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, along with our regional partner for Latin America, Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo (ICD). Resilient Roots was an initiative working to promote and enhance the constituent accountability of civil society organisations, including CIVICUS itself.

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 defence, 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:

Interested in learning how you can become a more accountable organisation to your primary constituents? Then check out our Primary Constituent Accountability Resource Package and what we've been learning, via the Resilient Roots 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.

The map below shows the location of our 15 pilot projects. Meet the first group of seven organisations behind these projects in this blog post:

Haga clic aquí para la versión en Español, et cliquez ici pour la version Française

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 initiative also examines 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.

3. 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.

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 .

Learnings from phase one of Resilient Roots

After 2 years of piloting, learning and pushing the primary constituent accountability agenda forward, Resilient Roots commissioned an external evaluation of the initiative. Read here to find out how we did, our successes and what we will work to improve in the next phase! (available in Spanish as well).

Unclear about some of the language and concepts Resilient Roots is using? A glossary of key terms is available in English, French, and Spanish.

Accountability at CIVICUS

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

Accountability Now. Global Standards Local Trust
Accountability Now. Global Standards Local Trust


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