Resource Guide for National Associations


This resource guide was prepared by the Civicus Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) in response to member’s requests to support efforts towards setting up and running networks/alliance/national associations of CSOs.

The guide is intended to enable the board and staff of existing national associations to manage their organisations more effectively, and also to guide civil society leaders in countries where national associations of NPOs and NGOs do not exist. In this way, we hope that this resource guide will reduce the learning curve, avoid re-inventing the wheel and strengthen national associations around of the world. It should be noted, however, that there is no single formula for success. Contexts and conditions vary and determine what is needed and possible. For that reason, we have focused on providing guidelines based on the experiences of existing national associations.

This document also intends to raise the profile of national associations by outlining the unique role that national associations play in civil society around the globe, as well as by highlighting their relations with the government and voluntary sectors, and their potential to contribute to the development and growth of a vibrant civil society.

What’s in the tool

The guide is divided in 6 parts and each one sets out to:

  1. Provide basic information and understanding on national associations
  2. Spell out the process of managing national associations
  3. Provide guidelines on how to establish a national association
  4. Outline possible institutional structures a national association could adopt
  5. Guide on how to run a national association
  6. Discuss relationships with other sectors and stakeholders

Within each of these sections the resource guide aims to:

  • Equip you with essential tools
  • Deepen your understanding with background information and facts and figures on the sector
  • Provide inspiration through case studies
  • Motivate you with practical hints and tips


Part 1. Understanding National Associations in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese

Part 2. Managing National Associations in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese

Part 3. Establishing National Associations in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese

Part 4. Determining Institutional Structures in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese

Part 5. Running National Associations in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese

Part 6. Managing Institutional Relationships in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese



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