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Defending Civic SpaceWebinars

Too Much of A Good Thing? Finding the Right Level of Donor and CSO Transparency

Increased transparency can help ensure that citizens are informed and empowered – one element in building a more just, equitable and inclusive society. Yet increasingly, we see bad faith attempts by governments to use transparency as a tool to limit the scope and actions of civil society actors, especially those working on human rights or government accountability. Civil society and donor reporting requirements are growing significantly in jurisdictions around the world. When used bluntly, the transparency agenda can be co-opted by governments to frame civil society as elite, motivated by foreign interests, unrepresentative, and can increase the administrative and operational burden on CSOs.

A recent TAI report Distract, Detach, Divide concluded that, in the face of closing space, there is even greater need for civil society organizations to prioritize and promote their own transparency to ‘head off’ these criticisms. There is not always agreement, however, within philanthropy if this is the best approach, especially given the very real risks faced by activists on the frontlines.

What is the right level of transparency for civil society actors and funders alike? How do funders reconcile commitment to transparency goals (their own and asks of government) with the needs to protect grantees and avoid lending support to narratives that attack the legitimacy of international funding?

Co-hosted by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI), the Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society (FICS), the Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN), and Ariadne: European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights, this webinar will explore both sides of this debate, and consider the practical and operational implications for donor and grantee practice. Confirmed speakers include Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, and Poonam Joshi, Executive Director of the Sigrid Rausing Trust.

RSVP by July 9 with Sam Jacobs at FICS.