- Source: Pexels, Ryutaro Tsukata, People walking on spacious concrete square, August 25, 2020
- Source: Shutterstock, Sharon Photo, Octagon Shape building inner court
The Funders Initiative for Civil Society equips funders with the tools they need to understand and anticipate trends in civic space.
FICS analyses drivers of closing civic space and tests new ideas to pushback against civic space restrictions.
FICS moves resources to movements and their allies expanding civic space across the globe.
Source: Shutterstock, Jessica Girvan, Protesters at a KILL THE BILL protest, London, UK, May 1, 2021
Source: Shutterstock, SGr, Soldiers marching in parade
Closing civic space is changing everything. On every continent there are now concerted attacks on the freedoms of assembly, association, and expression. Without these freedoms, people cannot come together freely, work out the answers to our problems, and create better futures for us all.
The closing of civic space is happening at a time when we need these freedoms more than ever. Humanity faces a series of crises. From irreversible climate change to the economic and social inequalities that are pulling societies apart, or a growing intolerance for dissent. Solving these problems demands an open and vibrant civic space.
Our current strategies to defend civic space will only get us so far. We need new ideas and approaches that expand civic space.
FICS exists to analyse civic space, shift funder strategy and practice towards expansion strategies, and resource movements expanding civic space.
FICS believes that the funding community has a special role to play in expanding civic space. Built on our expertise we use analysis, convening, incubation, and experimentation to shift funder strategy and practice on the drivers of closing civic space.
FICS strives to give funders the tools they need to expand civic space for those advancing democracy, human rights, social and economic justice, and environmental protection for the future. We want to galvanise and influence a broader cross-section of funders to direct resources to disrupt, reform, and transform civic spaces around the world.
Source: Shutterstock, Julian Leshay, Protect Black Women and Girls Banner, New York, USA, July 26, 2020
- Source: Shutterstock, 100 Words, Anti government protestors push shields of riot police during rally, Bangkok, Thailand, November 24, 2021
- Source: Pexels, Yew Hui Tan, Red Balloon on Green Grass Field, July 03, 2021
We do this through:
1. Cutting edge analysis – short term and futures focussed research that keeps funders ahead of the curve in spotting opportunities and threats to civic space. This includes working across the field to map effective strategies while tracking donor resources and distributing learning on what works and what does not.
2. Building the field of funders – FICS activates and inspires a diverse cross section of funders to confront the drivers of closing civic space. Drawing from our analysis we create space for funders to connect, collaborate, and experiment with new ideas to expand civic space.
3. Incubation and resourcing – FICS nurtures pathways for funders and civil society to collaborate and test how resources can be used to expand civic space. We offer grant-making for nascent ideas and
approaches, incubation of new infrastructure for civil society, and new funding mechanisms to help take this work to scale.
At FICS we want funders to move resources to not only “hold the line” and protect activists and actors from downstream harassment, arrests, and abuse, but also to confront the driving forces behind these restrictions. We want to tackle the drivers behind the phenomenon of closing space and move to expansion strategies.
We analyse drivers of civic space. We propose solutions and incubate new ideas. We bring funders together to increase resources for movements expanding civic space.
FICS spoke to more than 150 civil society representatives and funders working across the globe on human rights, equalities, climate change, land rights, corporate power and technological threats, to develop a unique analysis of the systemic drivers of shrinking civic space.
Our analysis, Rethinking Civic Space, lays out how the abuse of counter-terrorism laws and policy, intertwined with increasingly concentrated economic power and threats to democracy and pluralism from regressive political forces has put the shrinking of civic space on a full force trajectory.
FICS concludes that – responding only after activists are under attack is not enough. Civil society organisations urgently need resources to disrupt over-reaching security frameworks, create narratives which value pluralism and equality, and hold economic power in check.