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NGOs and Civil Society

The growth of civil society has been one of the most significant trends in international development.  Partnerships between governments, businesses and civil society organizations (CSOs) are now one of the most effective ways to raise standards of living and achieve sustainable development. 

Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a critical role in helping to amplify the voices of the poor in the decisions that affect their lives.

The World Bank recognizes the important role that CSOs play in meeting the challenges of development and welcomes the opportunity to work with civil society.

This site is dedicated to information on ongoing policy consultations, funding sources, operational partnerships, and other development-related issues.

Funding for Civil Society Organizations

Civil Society Fund

The Civil Society Fund (CSF) is one of several facilities or programs supported by the World Bank that provides grants to NGOs and other organizations of civil society.


The CSF aims to make development more inclusive and equitable by providing funds for activities that support the civic engagement of marginalized and vulnerable groups.


Accordingly, grants focus on empowering people who have been historically excluded from society's decision-making processes, such as women, youth, people from racial and ethnic groups, people with low-income, and people from rural areas.


They also aim to enhance partnerships with key players in support of the development process. Key players could include government agencies, civil society organizations, multilateral and bilateral agencies, foundations, and the private sector.


The CSF is administered by the World Bank Country office and decisions are made once a year by June.


Most grants are in the range of $3,000 to $7,000. The CSF rarely funds more than half of the proposed budget for an activity, and therefore prefers that its grants help leverage additional contributions from other sources. Applicant organizations are asked to describe how a grant from the World Bank might help them to raise matching funds from other donors

The Program is funded by the Development Grant Facility and was created in 1983.

Development Marketplace

The Development Marketplace is another mechanism by which the World Bank provides funds to CSOs. Established in 2000, the initiative is an open competition of innovative proposals. The proposals  accepted by the Development Marketplace have to be submitted in partnership with at least one other organization - e.g., an NGO partnering with another NGO, bilateral/multilateral development agency (including from the UN family), government, academic/research institution or foundation, or private business. Proposals submitted can address a multiplicity of issues from sustainable development to information technology.


Other funding for Civil Society Organizations


The World Bank seldom funds Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) directly. The most common way for a CSO to receive project funds is by working as a paid consultant or contractor to the borrower (government). World Bank-financed projects are sometimes designed to include mechanisms for channeling funds to CSOs—the most significant examples are the social funds. In addition, CSOs may be contracted directly by the World Bank to fulfill a variety of specific functions, such as assisting with project design, implementation and supervision.

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