The Civil Society Rapid Assessment (CSI-RA)
Informed by our findings from the previous Civil Society Index (CSI) phase, CIVICUS sees that in many countries, civil society organisations (CSOs) exist today in a state of heightened volatility, flux and disconnect. There is a pressing need to continue to take a fresh look at what civil society is and does, and to adapt measurement tools more to local contexts in order to capture better the changing nature of civil society.
Based on this understanding, CIVICUS now offers an additional and new civil society rapid assessment (CSI-RA) tool, based on a more flexible and adaptable methodology to help civil society better assess its strengths, challenges, potentials and needs in a range of different situations and contexts. The CSI-RA can also help to promote cooperation and networking within civil society and with other stakeholders, improve CSOs’ credibility towards their constituencies, monitor and assess the environment in which civil society operates and inform alternatives for improving CSOs’ planning and performance.
The flexibility of the CSI-RA allows the project’s partners to decide on what their most important expected result is and adapt the methodology accordingly, focusing on one or more dimensions of the civil society reality in order to deliver the best value towards the most important process or desired change.
The classic Civil Society Index (CSI):
The CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) is a participatory needs assessment and action-planning tool for civil society, which has the aim of creating a knowledge base and momentum for civil society strengthening initiatives. The classic CSI has been implemented over the past ten years in more than 75 countries.
Compared to the new CSI-RA, the classic CSI has a more fixed methodology and requires more time and resources, as it attempts to assess the entire spectrum of civil society experience across five dimensions: the organisational structure of civil society, civic engagement, perception of impact, practice of values and the enabling environment. It also seeks to enable international comparisons between the state of civil society in different countries.
The CSI is initiated and implemented by, and for, civil society organisations at the country level, and actively involves, and disseminates its findings to, a broad range of stakeholders, including government, donors, academics and the public. The two primary goals 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 classic CSI is still available for those partners that seek to have a fully comprehensive look at civil society focussing on the five dimensions mentioned above.