What is CSO Effectiveness

CSO effectiveness depends upon two sets of factors, those controlled by the CSO itself (internal factors) and those largely outside the control of individual CSOs (external factors). His Highness the Aga Khan referred to the quest to influence and establish a more conducive and facilitating set of external factors, as the creation of an 'enabling environment' for CSO effectiveness. Today very many CSOs are working together to achieve this goal on a global basis.

Taking control of your environment!

CSOs can only thrive and make their optimum contribution to development if a political, cultural, social and economic environment exists that encourages and facilitates self-determined action by the people. In some countries CSOs are deliberately discouraged, or limited in what they can contribute; the legal framework may be overly controlling, or the national security apparatus too invasive. On the other hand insecurity, corruption, economic stagnation and weak governance, all undermine performance of an effective civil society.

Resourcing of CSOs is also a critical factor in determining CSO effectiveness. Levels, types and conditions applied to both internal and external resourcing have direct bearing on CSO effectiveness. If there is no culture of local giving and no incentives to promote it there will be an over-reliance on external aid. External aid has great bearing on the growth and strength of Civil Society. Where external aid excludes local CSOs and gives preference to international and multi-national actors; where such aid is expensive to access and account for; where such aid promotes dependency and supports the entrenchment of corruption and bad governance; such resources actually work against effective development.

Collectively, CSOs play a significant role in positioning their sector in the eyes of the public. CSO networking is fundamental to the creation of a voice for civil society, a credible reputation for an accountable and transparent sector, and a sector that is capable of effective self-regulation.

Getting your house in order - The primary determinant of CSO effectiveness is the level of competence, commitment, character and creativity in the leadership of CSOs.

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