Civil society organisations

Civil society has grown in size and importance around the world. A vibrant civil society can ensure that millions of vulnerable people have a voice and that they play a central role in the struggle to further political, social, economic and constitutional rights. Civil society can identify and raise issues around which collective problem-solving needs to take place. Civil society organizations (CSOs) also play an essential role in contexts of state service reduction or lack of services, particularly in countries of protracted crisis.

As such, in fragile and conflict‐affected areas where ACTED is working, the civil society often has limited space and capacities to operate. Civil society organizations are small, informal, with limited means and ability to effectively advocate beyond their immediate local communities. Therefore, we seek to reinforce CSOs institutional capacity and provide them with sustainable resources to ensure their effectiveness.

Why is civil society important?

Among the many areas civil society focuses on and among the different functions it serves, strengthening democracy and contributing to development are the most crucial. In particular, civil society and civil society organisations make their key contribution to development and democratization processes by:

  • delivering basic services, such as primary education, health, water and sanitation, and providing shelter, counselling and support services to disadvantaged groups
  • demanding efficient public services to the relative authorities
  • promoting political participation
  • monitoring the performance of government and other stakeholders in the provision of services and by holding them accountable for their work
  • participating in local planning and budgeting
  • advocating for human rights, for the needs and priorities of their constituency (especially of marginalized groups) and advocating against government deficiencies
  • contributing to mediating and resolving conflict, contribute to social innovation
  • influencing government policy and lobbying for change
  • contributing to social innovation

ACTED’s approach of civil society organisation capacity building

Depending of the context, ACTED:

  • Strengthens the institutional capacity of civil society organizations throughout capacity building
  • Promotes networking among civil society organizations at local, national, regional and global levels, we support and encourage the formation of civil society initiatives
  • Enhances communication and advocacy capacities of civil society organizations towards the defense and protection of vulnerable groups’ interests, related to key social and economic issues of importance to them
  • Supports civil society to deliver quality services in the absence of state actors, for example in contexts of conflict or fragile states

Grassroots Organizational Capacity Development (GOCA)

GOCA stands for Grassroots Organization Capacity Assessment (GOCA) and it is ACTED’s signature civil society organizational capacity assessment and development toolkit.

The GOCA can be used to analyze the organisational and institutional capacity of local and national civil society organisations (CSOs). More specifically, the tool can be used to identify capacity building needs, to plan technical support interventions to address these needs, to then monitor and evaluate the impact of the capacity building support provided, and adjust technical support as and where necessary based on the findings.
The GOCA was developed to enable the use of participatory processes in the assessment of the capacity needs of civil society organisations in a number of areas. The tool also enables the development of capacity building action-plans to address the identified needs. The GOCA provides a comprehensive set of tools and guidance focusing on organizational management, financial management, leadership and participation, project cycle management, and external relations.

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