#RoadFromBogotá: Perspectives on how CSOs are faring as they work to #ShiftThePower

06 Jun 2024


Ahead of the #ShiftThePower Global Summit in Bogotá, we held a series of weaving conversations, many of them related to the role of civil society and community-based organizations, and their experiences in working with donors and funders.

In these conversations, civil society participants talked about the challenges of the asymmetric relationships they have with donors and funders – with many sharing the same experiences. Participants also discussed actions that civil society organization (CSOs) could take to address the challenges they face in donor relations. You can read a summary of these actions suggested by participants in these sessions.

Below, we feature perspectives from three civil society leaders who attended the Summit on their reflections and views on the #RoadFromBogota.


Speak with a collective voice – and claim our power

Rotimi Olawale of Youth Hub Africa in Nigeria sees collective CSO platforms and collective feedback as a key way to change donor practices.

“If one organization gives feedback to a donor it is not going to be effective, and that one CSO will be worried about saying anything negative to its donors – they won’t want to risk losing their funding. But if there’s a group of civil societies that speak with one voice, there is less risk and the message is something donors are more likely to listen to.”

Read more here 


Finding better ways to engage with donors

Jonathan Kifunda of Thubutu Africa Initiatives in Tanzania wants to see donors becoming genuinely engaged with communities and see the impact of some of their practices.

“We need to take donors into communities and show them the reality on the ground, and the magnitude of some of the failures that come from the systems they have built. We can also show them the successes that new ways of funding are bringing. Once they realize the issues and go ‘aha!’ we can invite them to be part of the solution – and this is when they could be willing to team with us and begin to #ShiftThePower.”

Read more here


Additional readingHow to get from rhetoric to reality in decolonizing development

Amitabh Behar is a leading civil society voice and currently interim director of Oxfam International – as well as being on the board of GFCF. Amitabh sees the structure of international development and its way of working as “a replica and reflection of how power is concentrated within a few groups in the global order, and cannot be divorced from the broader political economy.” In a post-Summit opinion piece he identifies four dimensions of decolonization that global development needs to address to usher in real change:

  1. Decolonize design and structures
  2. Decolonize money
  3. Decolonize knowledge and competence
  4. Decolonize the “theory of change”

“I came back energized from the Summit, feeling that we have a growing community of actors and leaders who are together in this struggle for shifting power. This Summit certainly made me believe that change even within the sector is possible and imminent. I took away many things – the need for us to locate the conversation in the broader political context (I see a tension as most understand the larger political context but end up focusing on their immediate organizational priorities). I also felt that a large segment wanted to see some tangible planned actions emerging from the Summit, a great place to think, Bogotá was a catalyst but the need to channelize this energy into some systematic thought through actions should be designed.”

Read Amitabh’s post-summit opinion piece here 


We have also published an accompanying #RoadFromBogotá series on how INGOs are faring as they work to #ShiftThePower.

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