17 December 2020

“Giving civil society the right response” – New report by the Charities Aid Foundation

Seen from today, the COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay for quite some time. In recent months, the relationship between governments and civil society has evolved quite a lot under the influence of the coronavirus. All too often, governments tend to look at civil society organisations merely as service providers and sometimes as channels for distributing public and private funds. Yet with the COVID-19 crisis, civil society took up some new roles. The sector proved once again its flexibility and, in many places, became a crucial partner in emergency situations. In addition, civil society continued to play its traditional role of strengthening the social and economic fabric of our societies. How have governments responded to this? What does this mean for the rebuilding efforts?

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) raises these issues in their newly published report “Giving civil society the right response”. The report provides a snapshot of policy practices from around the world. It builds on extensive research and roundtables. These include Philanthropy Advocacy’s analysis of European emergency measures, as well as a roundtable co-hosted in July 2020 by CAF, Dafne, EFC and WINGS. This roundtable was an important occasion for Philanthropy Advocacy to draw attention to the European dimension of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CAF report identifies lessons and recommendations across the following four areas:

  1. government support for civil society and working in partnership,
  2. government support to unlock giving,
  3. the wider operating environment for civil society and civic space,
  4. the role of infrastructure in affecting policy change.

Philanthropy Advocacy warmly welcomes this report and its recommendations on how governments can best support civil society and which incentives should be in place for unlocking philanthropy’s full potential. In our view, the report gives policymakers, local authorities, and organisations on the ground an important tool for improving their collaboration and efficiency, thus helping all of us to “build back better”.