Building Collective Action: Lessons from our Membership Engagement Month

A message from Lysa John, Secretary-General of CIVICUS   

Dear CIVICUS members and allies,   

Across 10 November to 10 December last year, we coordinated a series of events to mark our very first ‘Membership Engagement Month’. This four-week, annually recurring initiative is part of the commitment we have made to create more opportunities for Board, staff, members and allies to review and discuss lessons and outcomes relevant to our strategic plan for 2022-27.  

The aim of CIVICUS Membership Month is to facilitate collective learning across the alliance with the aim of catalysing innovation and action to expand civic and democratic freedoms. In 2022, specific objectives for the engagement were to facilitate proactive engagement between the CIVICUS Board and across members, provide space to query our strategy and increase visibility of and engagement with alliance-wide objectives and initiatives. As part of this effort, we aimed to test virtual and hybrid convening formats to foster connections; socialize collaborative and institutional initiatives across the alliance and create spaces for collective learning around models for activism and change. Events and exchanges were coordinated through CIVICUS’ online community, which was launched in 2021 and enables secure, real-time, peer-to-peer interactions across a verified group of members. 

A ‘Digital Fair for Collective Action’ was the highlight of our online activities during the Membership Engagement Month. 700 CIVICUS members registered for this event, which was designed to enable visit to and focused conversations around 11 virtual booths hosted by a range of networks, including Innovation for Change, Connect Humanity, End Water Poverty, Fair Share for Women Leaders, KujaLink and Peace Direct. Fourteen CIVICUS members also showcased initiatives linked to ‘16 Days of Activism to end Gender based Violence’ during this period.  

The virtual fair format was appreciated for providing a creative way to connect with human rights defenders worldwide and facilitate insightful conversations. On the downside, participants expressed challenges with internet connectivity and the learning curve required to navigate the tech-based platform. Overall, we are excited and encouraged by our first experience with the CIVICUS Digital Fair and look forward to expanding this initiative during its second iteration across 10 Nov to 10 Dec 2023. The launch of a series of online learning experiences was another highlight of the Membership Engagement Month. Over 1400 members registered for the two programs announced in this period, which were ‘Building Blocks for Organising’ and ‘Community Accountability Accelerator’ trainings. A third training program on digital security will be launched in early 2023.  

Last but not the least, over 200 CIVICUS members also took part in the ‘AGM’ (Annual General Body Meeting) which was coordinated through two sessions held across 30 November 2022. The AGM provides a platform for members to engage directly with the Board and Secretariat on progress made against CIVICUS’ strategic plan. In the meetings held on 30 November, representatives of the Board and Senior Leadership Team presented key aspects of CIVICUS’ annual report and financial statements for 2021/22, following which voting members were invited to confirm the adoption of the annual report. We encourage all our members to look out for this engagement opportunity in November 2023. Your active engagement with this key governance moment will help strengthen our strategic progress and relevance! 

If you haven’t already, please take a look at our annual report for 2021/22 here, and stay tuned to announcements from our Online Community to get involved with upcoming engagements aimed at strengthening governance accountability, strategic coherence and collective action!  

In solidarity, 

Lysa John 



25  Owl Street, 6th Floor
South Africa,
Tel: +27 (0)11 833 5959
Fax: +27 (0)11 833 7997

CIVICUS, c/o We Work
450 Lexington Ave
New York
NY 10017
United States

11 Avenue de la Paix
Tel: +41.79.910.34.28