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CIVICUS Civil Society Index 2003-2004: Call for Statements of Interest
November 30, 2002

CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations, invites applications for national partners to participate in its Civil Society Index 2003-04. The Index is an action-research project that assesses the state of civil society in countries around the world with a view to creating a knowledge base and an impetus for civil society strengthening initiatives. The Index has been successfully piloted in 14 countries around the world, and CIVICUS is now launching the first full implementation phase in approximately 25 countries. The Index will be implemented by civil society organisations at the country level, in close partnership with CIVICUS.

Apply to become a national partner in an international endeavour to assess the state of civil society. The deadline for submissions is January, 31st 2003. Applications should be sent to the CIVICUS at

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance dedicated to strengthening civil society and citizen action throughout the world. Its members include voluntary organizations, foundations, research institutes and individuals from 106 countries. As one of its major programmes, CIVICUS coordinates the CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI).

The CSI is an innovative action-research project that assesses the state of civil society in countries around the world with a view to creating a knowledge base and an impetus for civil society strengthening initiatives. The CSI is a unique analytical and diagnostic tool to increase knowledge and raise awareness about civil society among the public, government and other sectors of society. It is more than a mere research exercise, however. It seeks to empower civil society stakeholders through the promotion of dialogue, collective learning and network-building. The ultimate aims of the CSI are to enhance the strength and sustainability of civil society and to strengthen civil society’s contribution to positive social change.

The CSI was successfully piloted in 14 countries around the world and CIVICUS is now launching the first full implementation phase in approximately 25 countries in 2003-4. The Index will be implemented by civil society organizations at the country level, in close partnership with CIVICUS. These organizations are selected by CIVICUS based on the criteria outlined in this document. CIVICUS welcomes applications from national-level civil society organizations that deem a participatory assessment and reflection on the state of civil society a timely and relevant endeavour in their country. Organizations focused on strengthening civil society in their country are particularly encouraged to apply.

A guide to the CIVICUS Civil Society Index

Overview of CSI conceptual framework and research approach
The Index assesses four different dimensions of civil society:

  • the structure of civil society, i.e. the vibrancy of collective citizen action and its organizational infrastructure;
  • the external political, legal, socio-economic and socio-cultural environment in which civil society exists;
  • the values practiced and promoted in the civil society arena, and
  • the impact of activities pursued by civil society actors on society at large.

Each identified core dimension of civil society (environment, structure, values and impact) is made up of a set of sub-dimensions. For each sub-dimension, individual indicators have been identified.

The in-country implementation process of the CSI will be undertaken by country teams comprising:
(a) the national co-ordinating organization (NCO),
(b) a participatory researcher and
(c) a person with considerable knowledge and experience about civil society.

CIVICUS provides the Index country teams with a comprehensive toolkit for implementing the CSI and conducts a global training workshop on its use. The country teams carry out research on each of the four identified dimensions of civil society.

Research findings are then presented to a "jury" of informed citizens (representing diverse sectors of civil society and society at large) which rates each indicator. These scores are then aggregated into an overall score for each of the four dimensions. Research findings and scores are presented and validated at a national workshop where strategies for prioritising and addressing identified weaknesses are discussed. A final country report including research findings, dimension scores and the outcomes of the national workshop is published for national and international readership.

Roles and responsibilities
Over the course of the project, the country teams receive training, technical guidance and overall support from CIVICUS. The selected civil society organizations are expected to provide the necessary human resources and to generate (with support from CIVICUS) the financial resources required to effectively implement the project. In exceptional cases, CIVICUS will endeavour to provide limited financial support, where local fundraising proves to be more difficult

Specific tasks of the NCO include:

  • Liasing with CIVICUS (and other National Index Teams) on the implementation of the CSI;
  • Fund-raising for CSI activities at the country level;
  • Appointing a participatory researcher and civil society expert (in close consultation with CIVICUS);
  • Establishing a national advisory group for the CSI;
  • Building awareness of and support for the CSI among civil society stakeholders in the country;
  • Conducting or coordinating a review of secondary data available on civil society issues;
  • Coordinating the organization of national advisory group meetings, focus groups meetings and the national workshop;
  • Ensuring the dissemination of Index findings and outputs;
  • Undertaking an agenda-setting exercise with national civil society stakeholders on specific strategies and tasks to tackle areas where weaknesses have been identified (as part of the national workshop), and
  • Tracking activities and campaigns ensuing consequently to the CSI implementation

The NCOs are expected to benefit from implementing the CSI in several ways:

  • The CSI is an organizing and mobilizing tool that facilitates networking and relationships with other organizations in the country.
  • The information and knowledge generated by the CSI will allow NCOs to identify specific strengths and weaknesses of civil society and, where desired, provide a platform for subsequent civil society enhancement initiatives.
  • NCOs will be part of an international network of organizations concerned with understanding and enhancing civil society around the world. This network will provide opportunities for information-sharing, collective learning and alliance-building at the regional and international levels.
  • NCOs will receive training and technical support from CIVICUS regarding the conceptual framework and research methodology developed by the CSI project.

"To implement the CIVICUS Civil Society Index in Uruguay was a most rewarding and worthwhile experience. It allowed a fruitful interaction among the different actors of the Uruguayan Society. We treasure this useful and valuable tool!!" Anabel Cruz, CSI Partner in Uruguay"

Selection Criteria
To apply as an NCO, an organization should meet the following criteria:

  • Have an organizational mandate to strengthen civil society. CIVIUCS therefore especially encourages applications from civil society support organizations or networks;
  • Operate at the national level;
  • Possess strong linkages within civil society in the country. As the CSI seeks to include various forms of civil society organizations (beyond NGOs), we place a strong emphasis on the ability of the NCO to bring faith-based organizations, trade unions, social movements, community-level organizations and other forms of civil society into the CSI process;
  • Be willing to invest considerable time and resources to carry out the CSI;
  • Have the capacity to play a coordinating role at the national level and to manage the Index process;
  • Be capable of raising and managing the necessary funds for the effective implementation of the CSI. CIVICUS will assist the NCO in the fundraising task through letters of support, joint fundraising proposals and, in exceptional cases, through providing limited funding support;
  • Be willing to work in close partnership with CIVICUS as well as the other members of the National Index Team, and;
  • Be committed to building cross-sectoral linkages within civil society. Given the emphasis on civil society dialogue and reflection in the CSI process, the organization should be committed to implementing the CSI through an inclusive process that ensures widespread ownership.

How to Apply?
If your organization wants to submit a statement of interest, please proceed as follows:

Inform the CIVICUS at as soon as possible.

Downloaded and complete the application form.
- Rich Text File (RTF) format 9KB
- Acrobat PDF format 8KB

Please note that to provide CIVICUS with the information required in the application form, your organization needs to liase with potential donors, potential members of the Index country team and other civil society stakeholders beforehand.

Send the completed form, including the supporting documents, by January, 31st 2003 to:

  • via mail: CIVICUS
    Civil Society Index
    P.O. Box 933
    Southdale, 2135
    South Africa
  • or via fax: + 27 11 833 7997
  • or via email:

CIVICUS will conduct an in-depth review of the applications received and inform applicants of the outcome by the end of February 2003.

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