Giving Compass' Take:

• Noha El-Mikawy draws attention to the problematic circumstances and regulations that are endangering the structures of civil society.

• What are the consequences of weakened, unattractive civil society organizations? How has COVID contributed to the precarity of civil society's structures? What are you doing to strengthen funding for structures of civil society in your community?

• Learn about how you can preserve structures of civil society during coronavirus.


The ability to organize, speak up, and engage is critical if underrepresented groups are to influence decisions that affect them and to hold governments and the private sector to account.  Yet, civic space and civil society have been constrained by restrictive regulations and limited funding. There is a dire need to advocate for open civic space and to call upon regulatory agencies across the world not to use global and national crises to restrict the freedom of expression and organization.  ODA and philanthropy are called upon to increase funding for local civil society and do that as much as possible with unrestricted funds.

Alongside restrictions and funding, an increasing number of observers and civil society activists identify another serious problem: the precarity of working conditions in civil society.  The CIVICUS 2020 report cites donor dependency and short-term project-based grants as key drivers of such precarity.  Beyond those drivers, civil society precarity is driven by the internal working conditions within civil society organizations and the levels of social protection enjoyed by civil society workers.

If civil society is seen as a precarious employer, it cannot attract the best of talents; if the talented and passionate staffers cannot lead lives of dignity, they will be forced to leave or suffer demotivation and burn-out.  Furthermore, women are key members of the staff in many civil society organizations.  When they need to care for loved ones at home or to bear a child, women working in civil society face the lack of childcare, of maternity leave, or paid time for family care and these become drivers of economic uncertainty that may affect power relations in the workplace leading to harassment.

Read the full article about the precarious structures of civil society by Noha El-Mikawy at Philanthropy In Focus.