Civil society strengthening

Civil society strengthening

For decades, Pact has strengthened civil society and promoted civic engagement around the world.

Vibrant civil society is a cornerstone of effective democratic governance and thriving communities. Civil society includes diverse social and civic organizations such as community groups, non-government organizations, youth associations, advocacy groups, think tanks, labor unions, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations and foundations. Civil society also includes formal and informal civic networks, such as social movements. These civic and social structures shape public policy, provide important information to citizens and governments, hold governments accountable, defend basic rights, deliver social services, foster civic engagement and empower citizens to solve social challenges.

Pact brings nearly five decades of experience strengthening civil society and promoting civic engagement around the world. Our work cultivates strong relationships with local partners to design and implement politically smart approaches, with a focus on building partners’ skills to integrate similar approaches into their own campaigns and programming in the future. Pact has established a track record of empowering the full spectrum of local actors to bolster the frameworks, laws and policies and institutions that form the basis of effective governance systems.


Expanding citizen awareness and engagement in civic processes
We focus on making information more accessible to citizens and civic groups, and on increasing awareness and understanding of how citizens can constructively apply this knowledge in decision-making processes that impact their lives. For 20 years, our work in Zimbabwe sought to increase the influence of citizens, acting collectively through formal and informal groups, for more democratic and accountable governance. We understand civic education is achieved through hands-on practice and requires not just knowledge but a shift in practice.

Strengthening networks and coalitions for collective impact
We work with diverse networks of individuals and organizations to strengthen their collective voice and to take practical actions for systemic change. Using Pact’s network strengthening toolkit, we help formal and informal actors within a network understand how they can strengthen their internal communication, plan for collective action and foster advocacy that constructively engages decision-makers about contextually relevant issues. In Latin America, Pact’s Strengthening the Capacity of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon (SCOIA) project builds the capacity and connections between indigenous organizations to take ownership of their own development planning in the Amazon rainforest of Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Suriname, Guyana and Ecuador.

Promoting government transparency and accountability to citizens
Our interventions enable civic actors to strengthen and utilize existing platforms for holding governments accountable, including providing public information transparently and services that are responsive to the needs of their constituencies. We also support civic and community activists to use and adapt social accountability tools and approaches, engage constructively with local authorities, and advance issue-based advocacy.

Integrating governance programming across development sectors
Pact uses a systems approach for analyzing governance systems and their impact on outcomes in different  sectors including, health, economic growth and natural resource management. This integrated approach underscores that good governance is a essential to develop responsive policies and deliver services that positively impact people’s lives across multiple domains. For example, Pact Cambodia works to bolster women’s economic livelihoods by strengthening their business skills, access to information and finance, and engagement with other entrepreneurs. Taken together, these position women to not only improve their economic wellbeing but participate in public decision-making processes and reduce gender inequality.

Protecting and expanding civic space around the globe
We support a broad range of civic actors to drive local change. We have provided holistic capacity development to thousands of civic organizations across dozens of projects using Pact’s toolkit of industry-standard participatory tools and methodologies. We also support civic actors to safely navigate closed, closing or otherwise dynamic civic spaces. This includes assisting local activists to identify, use and expand civic space where it exists, even in the most challenging environments. Our work also includes assisting civil society to push for legal frameworks that are conducive to civic freedoms.


In 2021, along with IREX and our consortium partners, Pact was chosen to lead two new regional programs entitled Civil Society and Media – Strengthened Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND). With one award focused on Africa and the Middle East and North Africa, and the other covering Asia, Europe and Eurasia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, these programs are achieving a global reach and partner with civic and media actors around the world. They are fostering innovative design and implementation of civil society and media programming, while partnering with local change agents to foster global learning. Learn more about CSM-STAND.

Civil society strengthening PROJECTS

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