Dynamic accountability is key to establishing more horizontal partnerships across the civil society sector, and can help to redistribute power so that it is less concentrated in the hands of certain privileged actors. By incorporating dynamic accountability practices like collaboration, consultation and closing the feedback loop in genuinely inclusive and just ways, all stakeholders (i.e. donors, CSOs, communities) can co-create and co-own results, outcomes and goals relevant to the programmes and strategy. In doing so, local civil society and communities can make more informed decisions and shape sustainable development efforts from the bottom up.
Currently the asymmetry of power and top-down ‘development’ structures do not allow CSOs to reach their full potential and for communities to meaningfully participate in decision making processes. Recognising that these structures were shaped by our colonial past (and continue to be by our neocolonial present), new types of relationships should be established to achieve more systemic change. As donors and CSOs are partners collaborating for a more equitable and just world, this can only work if we create a system that actively enables community-owned and led actions.
Many CSOs in the sector have been advocating for donors to place greater emphasis on creating a more horizontal, inclusive and accountable sector, including spaces to exchange and learn from one another. In this month’s Accountability in Action piece, we take a look at some of the things our organisations are doing on this agenda:
Donor Dialogues – Restless Development
The Donor Dialogues bring together youth civil society organisations and donors to create a better resourced, more equitable and sustainable future for youth-led change.
Our recent youth-led research has revealed the challenges faced by youth civil society. Organisations report that funding tends to be short term, project oriented and based on ‘donor trends’. The grassroots expertise of youth civil society is rarely considered. As a result, programmes fall short in addressing the needs of communities, and fail to make the most of the strengths of youth organisations. These challenges have been made even worse by the impact of COVID-19.
Some members of the donor community want to build more meaningful partnerships with youth civil society organisations and design funding around community needs and priorities. The Donor Dialogues intend to help bridge a gap that has been identified by youth civil society organisations and donors alike.
The Dialogues will build new partnerships that help create a better resourced, more sustainable and effective youth civil society sector that doesn’t just survive – but thrives. Find out more about this series and upcoming Dialogues here.
CIVICUS Donor Finder and Grassroots Resourcing Realities
CIVICUS has compiled a new Donor Finder tool which lists progressive donors offering both funding and non-financial opportunities for grassroot civil society groups, organisations, movements, and individual activists. The tool has been specifically built for those who face several barriers to access information.
It was put together in consultation with CIVICUS members who provided valuable inputs on the type of information they needed, the design and layout, and the channels used to deliver the directory. Plus all donors featured in the directory agreed to be listed.
The Donor Finder contains donor profiles, and is organized by geographic region to help users identify donors who align with their work and needs. It will be reviewed and updated annually, with input from civil society regarding which other donors to include, and is also available French and Spanish.
CIVICUS is also collaborating with a small group of grassroots changemakers to better understand the resourcing realities of those working at this level. As part of this work, it has collated a list of trends currently experienced by these activists and their communities, along with some thoughts on their ideal resourcing scenario and who should help to make this a reality. These range from the impact Covid has had on their ability to organise and their personal wellbeing, to resourcing processes which allow for more freedom, creativity and innovation.
The Global Standard for CSO Accountability
At the Global Standard for CSO Accountability, partners recently hosted roundtables with donors where both foundations and governments engaged in honest conversations with CSOs about how the Global Standard framework could be used to shift more of their power to the local level. With the premise that dynamic accountability – when embedded in organisational culture and practiced by actors across the sector – can support a systemic shift on the use of power, the conversations opened an avenue to engage and advocate with donors to learn more about their role in enabling the environment for that to take place. Participants acknowledged the need to support each other better to ensure that accountability is not simply a tick-box exercise, and instead a process through which we co-design and build a culture of collaboration, allowing each actor to play their roles more effectively. Look out for the GS newsletter to find the key takeaways from the conversation!
We also want to learn how you or other organisations that you know of have been advocating or creating spaces where different stakeholders can start getting to know each other better, building trust and collaborating in a more horizontal way. Please do share any interesting initiatives or questions with us in the comments section below, or send an email to the DACoP Google Group!
DACoP wants to know more about what other members are doing and find synergies to make our voice louder! That is why the DACoP’s next open event at the end of July will focus on powershift and how we can each use our different powers to become more effective actors. Look out for the save the date shortly!