Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Report Abuse   |   Sign In   |   Register
Online Publications


Why does shrinking civil society space matter in international development and humanitarian action?

Over the past year, EFC (European Foundation Centre) has joined forces with FICS, a new Funders Initiative to Strengthen Civil Society to jointly examine how the trend of shrinking space for civil society effects development funders and actors, and how they are responding.

You can download the paper  here. 


2016 ISTRAN Working Papers

The 2016 Working Papers Series for the ISTR Africa Regional Network is now available online.  
To learn more, please click


Rethinking Poverty: Discussion Forum

‘Rethinking Poverty: What Makes a Good Society?’presents a summary of the work of the Webb Memorial Trust over the past five years.  It is available from Policy Press for £7.99 or to download for free.

To learn more, please visit 


Enabling Environment for Civil Society in the Arab Region

In cooperation with NPA and SIDA, ANND launches a book on the enabling environment of civil society in the Arab region. The book aims to present an overview of the current situation of civil society organizations in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. It uses several country-specific indicators regarding the establishment of civil society organizations and their success. The current conflicts raging in the Arab region constitutes a serious challenge, especially in lack of attention to laws regarding the work of civil associations, in addition to the shifts faced in funding.


The book highlights several legal challenges, especially those resulting from the lack of commitment to the principles of the separation of powers, as applied by democratic societies, as laws and regulations are often politicized. The book includes several recommendations to invigorate the work of civil society organizations in the regional, in order to consolidate the values of justice, equality, and sustainable development.


Download PDF


Civil Society policy brief published: The paper based on the T20 policy brief “Civil society Challenged”
has now been issues as a discussion paper. The key message of the brief made it prominently into the
final communique of the T20 group to the G20, which in itself is good as such communique are
usually dominated by trade and economic issues.


"A new Era for African Philanthropy Research"
This article is courtesy of 
Alliance Magazine


Civil Society Under Assault: Repression and Responses in Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia

By Saskia Brechenmacher, Associate Fellow, Democracy and Rule of Law Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. May 2017.

The closing of civic space has become a defining feature of political life in an ever-increasing number of countries. Civil society organizations worldwide are facing systematic efforts to reduce their legitimacy and effectiveness. Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia have been at the forefront of this global trend. In all three countries, governments’ sweeping assault on associational life has forced civic groups to reorient their activities, seek out new funding sources, and move toward more resilient organizational models. Competing security and geopolitical interests have muddled U.S. and European responses, with governments divided over the value of aggressive pushback versus continued engagement.



The Foundation Review:New Issue on Exit Strategies

Since 2010, there has been a significant shift toward creating foundations that have a defined endpoint.Ending a foundation creates a specific set of challenges. For perpetual foundations, there are some similar challenges in ending a time-limited strategic initiative.

In this latest issue, authors explore what they have learned about exiting with grace and expand what we know about how to achieve lasting impact
View the online version here.

This issue is open access thanks to the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. FoundationThe Atlantic Philanthropies, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.


The China File:


December 14th marks the launch of Lucy Bernholz's Blueprint 2017, the forecast for philanthropy and the social economy in the year ahead. Her reflections come at a particularly good pause point as we prepare for new leadership in the United States and ponder the intersection of philanthropic and political activities. This year's edition also explores how government surveillance and the commercial ownership of civil society's digital infrastructure affect free expression and association, which has been on my mind in recent months both in the office as we adapt new digital systems to support our work and in the broader world as we see the impacts of leaked e-mails. This is a great year-end read to spark conversation and structure strategies for the year ahead. Give it a read today, and shoot us an e-mail ( if you'd like to share your reactions in a blog post. READ THE REPORT


"Charitable Solicitations Regulation and the Principles of Regulatory Disclosure

by Putnam Barber and Megan Farwell in its September 2016 issue. 
The article is available in open access at


Today, many regulators’ operations publish information derived from registration and reporting
by charitable organizations and commercial fundraising firms. Similar publication is found in a
variety of situations – restaurant sanitation notices and hospital re-infection rates, among many
others. Recent scholarship has explored the theory of regulatory disclosure, identifying how
required disclosures can influence organizational behavior and potentially improve public welfare.
An important feature of this theory is the “action cycle,” in which a requirement to disclose
information about a process or product shapes consumers’ choices, in turn inducing suppliers
to modify their behavior in a desired direction. In this paper, we sketch briefly three widespread
approaches that have at different times characterized the regulators’ efforts, describe some of the
inherent difficulties that regulators, whether independent or governmental, will encounter in
connection with charitable activities, and explore the potential for constraining or eliminating
abusive practices by required public disclosure of related information.


Challenging the Gospel of Neoliberalism: Civil Society Resistance against Mining in Armenia

By Armine Ishkanian

Research in Social Movements, Conflict and Change, volume 39. pp. 107-136

This article examines the introduction of neoliberal policies in the mining sector in Armenia
and the civil society resistance that has emerged against those policies and practices. While
recognising that neoliberal policies have global reach, I examine how neoliberal policies are locally
translated, manifested, and resisted in Armenia and what factors shape resistance to neoliberal
policies. I argue that the anti-mining activists have created new subjectivities and spaces for
activism where they resist and challenge neoliberal policies and practices in the mining sector
as well as the heretofore accepted formal practices of civil society advocacy and engagement in policy
processes. Although the activists have not changed the way mining is practiced in Armenia,
they have opened up debates around mining, and neoliberal policies more generally, and
created new understandings and practices of civic activism and citizenship in Armenia. 


EFC latest mapping of European Foundations environmental funding

The EFC launched its third environmental funding mapping, representing the most comprehensive
study to date into the state of European independent funding for environmental issues. 
The 75 foundations covered in the study provided 2,913 environmental grants, amounting to
€479.1 million in 2014. Most funding is going to nature/biodiversity issues and less to address “industrial” activities like transport and chemicals.  


Climate change funding was not the most significant theme in 2014, noting however that the
data does not cover 2015 figures where some would expect an increased granting to climate
change due to the Paris climate summit. Encouragingly, “sustainable communities” and
“circular economy” are moving up the priority list. This tells us that environmental funders
are adjusting their programmes in order to ensure better coherence with political priorities and
general developments.



Mission Interference:  How Competition Confounds Accountability for Environmental
Nongovernmental Organizations

by Cristina M. Balboa

Review of Policy Research



Kramarz and Park (2016) claim that global environmental governance's increased accountability
mechanisms are not matched with environmental gains. I assert that this “accountability
paradox” develops for environmental nongovernmental organizations (ENGOs) due to a
convergence of trends: 

ENGOs’ increased governance roles coupled with competition for funding and
agenda space produces a field riddled with opposing or diverging views. These organizations
cannot fully satisfy other actors’ demands and achieve “balanced accountability” because of their
differentiated and conflicting approaches to environmental problem-solving. Instead, ENGOs
face an accountability dilemma: let the various demands of accountability interfere with their
ability to achieve mission or let their missions interfere with their efforts to be accountable. This
constrained choice is delineated by Koppell's multiple accountabilities disorder and the new
concept “single accountability disorder.” The qualitative case of the International Marinelife
iance demonstrates how an ENGO moves through the multiple accountability states that constitute
this paradox.


Claiming Agency: Reflecting on TrustAfrica’s First Decade

In celebration of its tenth anniversary, TrustAfrica has published Claiming Agency:
Reflecting on TrustAfrica’s First Decade
 in partnership with Weaver Press. Edited
by Halima Mahomed and Elizabeth Coleman, the book takes an in-depth look its work
as an African-led foundation that set out to do things differently.

Founded in 2006, when solutions to Africa’s challenges were often developed outside0
its borders, TrustAfrica sought to practice a kind of philanthropy that both benefits Africans
and actively supports their agency.

Now, at TrustAfrica’s ten-year mark, Claiming Agency asks, does this kind of philanthropy
make a difference? If so, how? What are its unique ways of working?

The answers are found in five chapters by independent authors that reflect on how
TrustAfrica and its partners advanced a range of issues – from women’s rights, smallholder
agriculture, and democratic reform in Liberia and Zimbabwe to international criminal justice
and illicit financial flows.

Three additional chapters analyze the changing landscape of African philanthropy, discuss the
book’s findings, and examine their implications for future philanthropic work in Africa. As a
whole, the book adds important evidence of the unique value of African-led philanthropy.

In a clear-eyed look at money and power, the authors observe that donor funds all too often
come with strings that constrict African agency – and recommend ways in which donors from
Africa and the global north can foster independent action and strengthen movements for change.

Reflecting on TrustAfrica’s First Decade. edited by Halima Mahomed,
Elizabeth Coleman. Zimbabwe: Weaver Press, 2016. 156 Pages.
Cost: Paperback £18.


Dr. Paarlberg Publishes Paper in Economic Development Quarterly

Dr. Laurie E. Paarlberg’s paper, “Considering the Role of Social Capital for Economic Development Outcomes in U.S. Counties,” was published in the Economic Development Quarterly. This paper explores the effects of diverse forms of social capital (bridging, bonding, and religious organizations) on economic development. One of the key findings suggests that bridging capital has a positive effect on development.  The article is available online at SagePub.



Organizing without organizations: on informal social activism in Poland

By Dominika Vergara Polanska (Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University,
Uppsala, Sweden); Galia Chimiak (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of
Sciences, Warsaw, Poland)




Dominika Vergara Polanska, Galia Chimiak, (2016) "Organizing without organizations: on informal
social activism in Poland", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 36 Iss: 9/10, pp.662 - 679


The purpose of this paper is to examine motivations of social activists in informal initiatives
and to understand why they opt for this more spontaneous and self-organized activism while
openly defying the hitherto established way of founding non-governmental organizations.

On the basis of a case study of Poland, which had one of the most vibrant civil societies in
the socialist region, it is argued that the characteristics ascribed to the functioning of civil society
after the toppling of socialism are not reflected in its more recent state. A broader definition of civil society and social activism is suggested to include new types of informal activism, which tend
to be over-looked and under-studied. The analysis is built on qualitative and quantitative data
gathered in 2014-2015.

The argument put forward is that un-institutionalized engagement is qualitatively different from its
formal and institutionalized counterpart. The recent growth of informal activism is indicative
of a rebirth of communitarian engagement in Polish civil society and a reaction to the underside
of its institutionalization.

In spite of the seminal role played by societal self-organization in the overturning of the
socialist system in Eastern European countries, the development of civil society in the region
after 1989 has been repeatedly described as passive and characterized by distrustful or individualist
attitudes. However, these civil societies have been changing since, and these more recent developments have been neglected by scholars.




In September, 22 active community foundation members from 16 European countries accepted
an invitation by the European Community Foundation Initiative (ECFI) and went on a study
trip in order to explore the German community foundation scene. The first country report,
A guide to community foundations in Germany”, served as preparation.


How do community foundations fit into their social context? What distinguishes them and
how can their success story be continued? Twenty years after the first community foundation
was established in Germany, a free English-language publication presents the German
community foundation landscape. The Country Guide provides information on its characteristics,
its legal basis and examples of community foundations at work. Published by the Association
of German Foundations (BDS), this guide is available for download free of charge on
the Association’s website:



From Solidarność to Global Solidarity? The Engagement of Polish Civil Society in
Development Cooperation 

by Galia Chimiak
Page referencfe: 165-198


The paper examines the factors that determined the emergence of non-governmental development organizations (NGDOs) in Poland and their impact on the appropriation of development norms and practices by the Polish aid system. These processes are understood as a natural continuation of, on the one hand, the international appeal of the trade union and mass movement Solidarność in the 1980s and, on the other hand, the country’s participation, dating back to the Cold War era, in the system of development aid. The contemporary development cooperation system has been shaped by geo-political factors. Polish aid, however, has also benefited from its cooperation with the NGDO sector, which willingly shared its hands-on experience and know-how in providing humanitarian aid, development cooperation, and global education projects. The indirect influence of foreign donors on Polish development cooperation should likewise be acknowledged._____________________________________________________________________________________

A New Era for African Philanthropy

by Bhekinkosi Moyo

There has never been a greater time for African philanthropy and philanthropy in general than
today. The momentum and interest around philanthropy have grown – at times surprisingly so,
given that not so long ago philanthropy was accorded no role in formal and intergovernmental
processes. Not many governments considered philanthropy in their policy processes; if they did, 
they would do so in disparaging or suspecting ways. African governments viewed philanthropy
(particularly international foundations) as part of a western agenda to influence regime change. 


Nonprofit Policy Forum has published "Charitable Solicitations Regulation and the
Principles of Regulatory Disclosure" 
by Putnam Barber and Megan Farwell in its
September 2016 issue.  The article is available in open access at


The South African Institute of International Affairs is pleased to announce the release
of the latest publication by Neissan Besharati and Carmel Rawhani titled

'South Africa and the D.R. Congo:  Evaluating a South-South partnership for peace,
governance and development'

The paper can be downloaded HERE  

The ‘Rise of the South’ and the role of ‘emerging powers’ in global development has animated
much of the political and economic discourse of the past decade. There is, however, little empirical
evidence on the contribution that emerging Southern partners make to sustainable development,
due to the lack of common measurement systems for South–South cooperation (SSC).

The following case study utilises the analytical framework developed by the Network of
Southern Think Tanks (NeST) to assess the range, extent and quality of South Africa’s peace,
governance and economic support to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The study
reveals that South Africa, in absolute financial terms, is a significant development partner
in the DRC (having provided the DRC with at least $1 billion in development assistance efforts
since 2001), and even exceeds the traditional donors when its aid is measured in proportion to
gross national income. The qualitative field research highlights that South Africa’s approach to
development co-operation to a large extent reflects the core values of SSC, although with a
mixed bag of successes and failures in terms of the results of their co-operation activities.
This pilot study of the South Africa–DRC development partnership is one of the first in
which the NeST conceptual and methodological framework has been tested for the purpose
of further refining tools and indicators for SSC analysis, so as to assist the future monitoring and
evaluation endeavours of South Africa and other emerging development partners.


2016 Million Pound Donor Report shows “boom time” in UK philanthropy


We are delighted to share with you the 2016 Coutts Million Pound Donors Report, researched
and written by two members of our team: Dr Beth Breeze and Dr Kayleigh Flaxman. The report
is launched today as part of the global Million Dollar Donors Report.

This year’s UK report finds growth in both the total number of gifts worth £1m or more: 355 in
2015, up 17% on 2014, and in the total value of those gifts: £1.83 billion, up 19% on 2014.

Further cause for cheer is the identification of 44 ‘first time’ million pound donors. Higher
Education remains the top choice for donors giving at this level, and all types of cause
received some degree of support from these biggest donors.

You can access the full report here and jump straight to the United Kingdom report here.



The first comprehensive profile of Social Enterprises in Canada has been released by Peter R Elson 
(Mount Royal University/ University of Victoria) and Peter Hall (Simon Fraser University).

In 2013 and 2014, 1,350 of more than 7,000 confirmed social enterprises across Canada
reported at least $1.19 billion in revenues, including over $828 million in sales. They paid at
least $442 million in wages and salaries to 31,000 employees, of whom 76% were
mission-focused employees. Social enterprises across Canada also trained 116,000 people,
provided services to over 5.48 million individuals, and involved 116,000 volunteers.

The full report is available at


Conference Report entitled The Changing Landscape of Local and Community
Development in Ireland: Policy and Practice

The conference of the same name was held in University College Cork in Ireland in October 2015. 
The proceedings includes a chapter on the recent UCC research into the effects of austerity,
alignment and competitive tendering on community development organisations and practice in
Ireland.  It seems that the Irish Government has been following some of the policy and practice
in England in relation to new funding regimes for the community sector.

The report can be accessed at the following link

A limited number of hard copies of the report are also available by email:


Private Social Investment and Resources Mobilization in Metropolitan Region of
Florianópolis (Brazil)
.  By Carolina Andion.  Editora UDESC, 2015. 151 pages. 
In Portuguese.

This book presents the results of a research carried out in the metropolitan region of
Florianópolis in Brazil. This research aims to understand the demographic profile of
social investors, discovering the characteristics of the investments they have made, examining
how they relate to their beneficiaries and fathoming their motivations and expectations. It
analyses the patterns in practices of Private Social Investment (PSI) and Resources
Mobilization (RM) made locally and try to understand to what extent they contribute
to promote civic participation. The methodology used was quantitative, with questionnaires
to 1155 individuals and 43 organizations from different sectors in the region. The results
highlight the challenges of managing the PSI and MR and the prospects and limits of
these practices as vectors for civic participation.


Report: Active Participation in Civil Society

Active Participation in Civil Society: International Standards, Obstacles in National Legislation
and Proposals Report has been published by TUSEV within the scope of 
Strengthening Civil Society and Civil Society Public Sector Dialogue Project that is
funded by European Union and Turkish Republic. Authored by Gökçeçiçek Ayata from
Istanbul Bilgi University Human Rights Research Centre and Assistant Professor Ulas Karan
from Bilgi University Law School, the report determine the legal obstacles before the enabling
environment for civil society in Turkey and introduce proposals for amendments.
Please click here to download the report in English.


INTRAC online publications

How aid really works

"How aid really works" is a comic strip, which highlights the gap between our lofty ideals
and the messy reality of the aid business. Alan Fowler, Rod MacLeod and Arantxa Mandiola
Lopez shine a light into the darkness. Does this resonate? How can we do different?    

ONTRAC 61 Post-closure evaluation: an indulgence or a valuable exercise?

How do we evaluate a partnership or programme that is closing or has already closed?
What are the benefits and risks of doing this? Our latest edition of ONTRAC explores the
value of post-closure evaluation and brings together four different perspectives.

Praxis Paper 31: Developing a timeline for exit strategies

Many practitioners are struggling with issues including how to approach exit and how to ensure
sustainability of interventions. This paper by Sarah Lewis collects and analyses learning from a
year-long Action Learning Set on exit with the British Red Cross, EveryChild, Oxfam
GB, Sightsavers and WWF-UK.

Summarising portfolio change: results frameworks at organisational level

Over recent years, many international development agencies have been expected to summarise
results and learning across large portfolios of work, carried out in different regions, countries
and sectors. This paper by Nigel Simister describes some of the different methods and options
available to help achieve this.

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal