The Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness1 is a global process set up by and for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) worldwide, to create a shared framework of principles that defines effective CSO development practice and elaborates the minimum standards for an enabling environment for CSOs, while at the same time promoting civil society’s essential role in the international development cooperation system.
The International Framework is accompanied by this Advocacy Toolkit which provides guidance on how CSOs can use the messages in the International Framework to advocate for a more enabling environment in their national and regional contexts, and an Implementation Toolkit with guidance on how to put the Principles into practice.
CSOs as development actors are profoundly affected by the policies and practices of donors, developing country governments and CSOs in their role as donors. This toolkit provides the necessary information, guidance and tools that CSOs around the world can use to contextualise the International Framework and advocate for a more enabling environment for CSO development effectiveness in their very own realities.
- Among and between CSOs: for the exchange of best practices, learning and experiences and to foster
networking and collaboration for the achievement of shared civil society enabling advocacy goals (e.g. at the regional level or internationally).
- Towards external stakeholders: with a formal commitment to supporting the work of CSOs as development actors in their own right, and in line with the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness, donors, national governments and other institutional actors, will be encouraged to commit
and effectively ensure minimum conditions for a more enabling environment for CSOs.
How can this Toolkit be used to advocate for a more enabling environment for CSOs?
- Encourage and build capacity for CSOs to engage with other stakeholders (e.g. government, donors,
private sector) on putting in place and/or strengthening enabling standards for CSO development
- Assist CSOs in conducting an ‘Enabling Environment Analysis’ in order to identify critical external barriers
(including legal, bureaucratic, fiscal, informational, political and cultural norms, policies and practices) that
negatively affect CSO ability to achieve better development effectiveness.
- Provide guidance on how to address these external barriers and achieve positive change through strategic
advocacy initiatives at the local, national, regional and international level.
- Suggest tools to map the main stakeholders in the national/regional/international development effectiveness discourse (CSO actors, donors, governments, regional and international institutions, the media) and
identify key targets, influentials, and opponents.
- Provide suggestions on how to develop effective messages and identify a range of advocacy activities or
tools vis-à-vis the respective stakeholders for conveying your messages and mobilizing support for your
- Provide guidance on communication strategies and tools including working with and providing content
for the media.
- Encourage the coordination and strengthening of collective efforts on shared advocacy asks and targets.
How is this Toolkit organised?
The toolkit is divided into three sections.
- Section 1 is an overview summarising the main points and key steps in advocating for a more enabling
environment for CSOs.
- Section 2 provides essential information and documents on CSO development effectiveness and enabling environment.
- Section 3 provides step-by-step guidance and tools on activities and logistics to assist CSOs develop,
implement, monitor and evaluate their advocacy for an enabling environment.
Advocacy might be a useful way to leverage change when:
- There are no policies, laws and regulations to adequately support CSO development effectiveness
(no or weak enabling standards);
- Existing policies, laws and regulations are detrimental – ‘dis-abling’ – to CSOs, impeding their development effectiveness;
- ‘Enabling’ policies, laws and regulations exist but are not being implemented.
This toolkit is meant to give some basic ideas and guidance for CSOs looking to advocate for a more enabling environment for their development work, based on the minimum standards articulated in the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness.