Hold us to account


As civil society grows and becomes more visible in the public eye, it is important that we can be held accountable for our actions. This should be done in a dynamic, evolving way, where accountability is not a report, but a constructive relationship with stakeholders that improves the agency and credibility of civil society organisations.

At CIVICUS, accountability means we are transparent about who we are and what we do. It also means we answer to our partners, donors, civil society and ourselves on what we have achieved and how we achieved it.

This is underpinned by our Accountability framework that aims to:

  • Position CIVICUS as an adaptive, change-seeking alliance.
  • Put people at the centre of our work, enable more iterative and participatory programming and allow faster responses when changes in direction are required.
  • Work with mixed-method approaches to measure our contribution to social transformation.

How we’re building accountability into our work

Our Strategic Plan 2022-2027

We are pleased to present CIVICUS’ revised strategic plan for the period 2022 to 2027, which is the outcome of deliberations held with stakeholders across the alliance and close collaboration between the staff and Board members of CIVICUS. The plan was developed through an extensive process to review and refresh CIVICUS’ strategic priorities. One of the key shifts in the revised strategic plan is a focus of one overarching goal across the work of the alliance. This overarching goal, namely ‘to strengthen civil society and civic action for expanded civic and democratic space’, reflects our emphasis on actions that are not just defending but also improving civic and democratic freedoms through a combination of influencing, organising and solidarity interventions.

The plan also includes an explicit focus on working with and for groups affected by the combined impact of civic space restrictions and structural forms of discrimination. It is accompanied by a clearer articulation of our contribution to long-term, systemic change, which is captured in four outcome statements that connect and consolidate the impact of our work across all levels. Our Strategic Theory of Change can be seen below:

Read here the CIVICUS 2022-2023 Annual Plan to find out more about what we will be doing as we transition into the first year of our new strategic period.

As part of our alignment to our revised Strategic Plan 2022-2027, we will be developing an integrated results framework which will assist us to track progress against our strategy, test our Theory of Change and better understand our contribution to systemic change. The results framework is currently in development and will be shared, along with an updated version of our accountability website, in early 2023.

Accountability reporting

CIVICUS is a founding member of Accountable Now, a platform of organisations focused on strengthening transparency and accountability within civil society. With the 26 other current members of Accountable Now, we strive to be transparent, responsive and focused on delivering impact. The accountability commitments ensure that we deliver on our promises and make fair, justified decisions in our work. Every year, CIVICUS reports to an Independent Review Panel on our economic, environmental and social performance. You can read a summary of our latest report and next steps here. All of our full reports and their corresponding peer reviews are available on the Accountable Now website.

Online monitoring & evaluation system

As of 2018, CIVICUS is storing and analysing its data using DevResults, a web-based M&E and portfolio management system that tracks programme data. This platform houses the majority of the data that CIVICUS collects in one central place, further enabling timely data-driven decision making.

Monitoring & Evaluation Toolkit

In 2019, CIVICUS published a Monitoring & Evaluation Toolkit, aligned to its Developmental Evaluation Framework which provides a process through six phases of our M&E journey that people can follow who want more structured guidance on what/how and when to apply certain M&E approaches and tools.

Gender and diversity

CIVICUS incorporates gender and diversity issues in all our programming and internal operations. We’ve also adopted a rights-based approach in our work, centred around the rights of marginalised groups like women, the disabled and those marginalised on racial grounds. A staff-wide external Inclusion Audit was conducted in 2017-2018 to work towards the best possible inclusion policies and practices for CIVICUS Alliance and the Secretariat, and share learnings and outcomes with the Alliance.

Read more about our Gender and Diversity work here, including our Diversity Statement, a Social Inclusion Toolkit or the Diversity & Inclusion Group for Networking and Action (DIGNA) online platform which was created in 2019.

Youth action team

Our Youth Action Team was set up in 2016 and membership changes on a rolling basis. Following an extensive, open selection process looking for the right blend of expertise in CIVICUS youth membership, we appointed a diverse array of action team members to champion for youth and their role in civil society. This team aims to: provide strategic, informed advice on youth participation in our programming and civil society in general, collaborate to build new partnerships and resources for scaling up initiatives on youth participation, and champion and foster social innovations and cohesion related to youth engagement in civic space.

Additionally, find out more how CIVICUS strengthens youth-led movements via its Youth Action Lab or how we worked with 26 youth advocates in 2019-2020 to use data in innovative ways to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals via the Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator.

How we’re empowering a more accountable, effective and innovative civil society

In addition to the various accountability initiatives within Civicus, we are also working with members and partners to foster growing, dynamic accountability within the sector. Projects include:

  • AGNA working group on legitimacy, transparency, accountability (LTA) and impact assessment promotes sharing and learning between the network’s members on how to improve public trust and the credibility of their activities through enhancing their accountability systems. The LTA working group organises an annual Global Accountability Week (see highlights from 2019 here), published a good practice platform in 2018 which invites open submissions and is regularly updated, and launched the Rendir App for Networks as a self-assessment tool in 2020.  
  • The Resilient Roots initiative tests whether organisations who are more accountable and responsive to their roots - namely, their primary constituencies - are more resilient against external threats. Read the 2020 final programme evaluation.