The explosive global growth of non-governmental voluntary action is matched by a universal challenge: while states live by taxes and business by profits, the third sector – what CIVICUS terms ‘civil society organizations’ or CSOs — struggles to finance their activities. The downsizing of the nation-state and its resources for social development, combined with increasing competition among CSOs for private and public funding, demands new thinking about both traditional and innovative methods for financing the tasks of civil society at a local, national and global level.
The international network CIVICUS has produced an extremely valuable source guide to address this challenge. The book moves the discussion and debate about sustainable development to the practical imperative of how CSOs can effectively finance and sustain their efforts.
This ambitious volume examines in detail the major sources of financing or income generation for CSOs around the world. Between introductory and concluding chapters, the book contains 11 chapters which examine ‘a specific resource enhancement pathway or strategy’, such as foundation funding, individual philanthropy, corporate partnerships, public resources from government, establishing microcredit programmes, and tapping social investment.
One of the most valuable features of the book is the short case studies or ‘snapshots’ of how individual CSOs generated resources — financial and non-financial — for their organizations. These may prove of great interest and relevance across borders, cultures and contexts. Also useful are the resource listings of organizations and key reference documents at the end of each chapter.
Given that most attention and training on resources development is overfocused on traditional grant aid appeals to private and public donors, the book’s authors rightly argue that CSOs must develop a variety of resource-generating strategies if they are to become truly sustainable. The challenge for civil society support organizations and donors is to develop and expand training and capacity-building programmes that enable CSOs to strengthen and broaden their approach to the array of available financing strategies. Sustaining Civil Society is a very important step in that direction. It will be of interest to NGOs working locally or globally, for state and business sector leaders, and for researchers, teachers, trainers and students. It will be especially useful if it helps both traditional donors and the organizations they fund to better understand alternative routes of CSO financing to avoid grant dependency.
Sustaining Civil Society: Strategies for Resource Mobilization
Edited by Leslie Fox and Bruce Shearer
CIVICUS members £20 non-members £30
Jenny Yancey and Dan Siegel are US-based international writers and consultants who have worked over the past eight years on NGO development issues in Eastern Europe. They are currently Visiting Fellows with the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, USA