The Open Forum of CSOs Development Effectiveness, an initiative led by an international consortium of 25 civil society organisations is coordinating a global consultation involving civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world. The aim of these consultations is to offer a platform for civil society organisations to discuss and agree on principles of development effectiveness and on minimum standards for the enabling environment as they pertain to their work. The results will feed into the Fourth High Level Forum of Aid Effectiveness in Seoul 2011. More than 70 national consultations are taking place this year in different regions around the world. The Open Forum is also aiming at facilitating a dialogue with the international non-governmental sector (INGOs) in order to ensure that their feedback and contributions are incorporated into the Open Forum process and support current efforts in the sector around this agenda. For more details on this initiative and how to participate you can contact the Open Forum on: firstname.lastname@example.org
July 5, 2010
June 2, 2010
Techsoup Global, Fundacja Techsoup and GuideStar International staff are spending the week in Brussels. Thus far we have hosted the TSG Network Partners meeting and attended some interesting sessions at European Foundation Week. Fundacja TechSoup also hosted the session “Leading the charge: innovative uses of technology and information to connect funders to communities”, which was very well attended. Some of us will be staying on for the EFC Annual General Assembly. A very busy and productive time!
There is a great crowd here in Brussels this week with a wealth of ideas and experiences to share both in formal sessions and the networking events that surround them. We want to share our views and reactions to all of this and will be doing so via the GSI and TSG blogs. We would love to hear your reactions too!
April 12, 2010
The EU recently launched a ‘European citizens initiative’ to give civil society a greater voice in decision making at the EU level. This “direct democracy experiment” allows citizens to influence the EU agenda by gathering 1 million signatures from people that support any particular proposal for new legislation at the European Commission level. It is hoped that this will increase the public’s involvement and interaction with the EU’s institutions. They can collect signatures on the street, through social networking sites or by any other means they like, but for the proposal to be considered each country should have a minimum number of signatures. Although there are critics, some of whom are campaigners, many civil society organisations support the initiatives. Its introduction may prove useful not only in encouraging civil society participation in EU activities but may also encourage greater co-operation between citizen philanthropists and CSOs across the EU. Read the Time Magazine article, which discusses this.
The 2010 British budget has revealed provisions to extend the country’s ‘gift aid’ tax break to charities based in other EU countries. This is another major step towards facilitating the ease of crossborder giving in the region. The decrease in red tape means that British based philanthropists can contribute to charities outside Britain yet receive GiftAid tax relief as if they gave in the UK. This means that EU based oranisations no longer have to set up British based charities to receive the tax break. As a result Britain now adheres to EU regulations, which outline that tax policy provisions in EU member states should not be prejudiced against other member states. This will lessen their administrative and financial burden, and hopefully by extension support an increase in EU philanthropy. Read more about this in the Financial Times (You can register for free to view) as well as on the Cabinet Office for the Third Sector website. You can also read the National Council of Voluntary Organisations’s (NCVO’s) response to not only to the GiftAid provision but to the rest of the budget as it relates the UK’s voluntary and charitable sector.
March 22, 2010
The most recent issue of the International Journal for Not-for-Profit Law provides a very useful review of the legal structure and regulatory framework for civil society organisations in select African countries. The first report was commissioned by the ICNL with the support of USAID’s NGO Legal Enabling Environment Program (LEEP) and features Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Uganda. The second report was commissioned by The World Movement for Democracy with the support of Canada‘s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and examines Ethiopia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda. It studies what constitutes a registered CSO in each country and it also reveals the constraints civil society organisations face with foreign funding and other operational activities due to government legislation. However, the reports also highlight some positive steps taken by some governments to strengthen their relationship with civil society and enable them to improve their effectiveness. The fact that many new CSO related bills are pending and many have already become law in recent years, demonstrates that CSOs responsibility and influence in the region is being taken much more seriously. Governments have recognised that they have an important role to play in socioeconomic development and the political process.