Created in 1983, the Social Development Civil Society Fund (CSF) is one of the few World Bank programs that directly support activities of civil society organizations (CSOs). The CSF is administered through participating country offices and provides grants ranging from $3,000-$7,000 to CSOs for work that promotes "civic engagement" of marginalized populations. These grants support groups who often are excluded from the public arena by increasing their capacity to influence policy and decision-making. They offer opportunities to reach populations that would otherwise not have access to resources. Country offices report the added benefit that thanks to the CSF, they have developed ongoing partnerships with local CSOs and institutions. These partnerships contribute to more equitable and inclusive development by giving a voice to vulnerable populations in consultations in Bank projects.
In FY10, CSF allocated $2.3 million to 52 countries; translating to 356 grants, serving over 400,000 beneficiaries. CSF activities have largely focused on themes central to the Bank’s social development agenda, such as good governance and social accountability, environment and social dimensions of climate change, gender and social inclusion, rural development and youth empowerment.
Examples of CSF Grant Activities
The experiences of the CSF over the years indicate that, by funding activities that are proposed directly by CSOs, the following outcomes can be expected: (i) enhanced awareness among citizens of their rights and responsibilities, leading to inclusion in the development process of otherwise marginalized voices; (ii) increased knowledge sharing and networking among civil society and development partners (social capital); and, (iii) for the Bank, improved understanding of civic engagement and empowerment and the most effective approaches to supporting civic engagement in unique country contexts at the local level.