Report: CSOs must adopt innovative strategies to survive

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Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country have been advised to adopt new and innovative strategies to remain viable and not always depend on donor funding.

The CSOs were also urged to create space to build a strong local philanthropic culture for social justice and the provision of social goods and services.

These were in a recommendation of the 2021 Ghana CSO Sustainability Index Report, presented in Accra at a media dissemination workshop by Mr Douglas Quartey, Development Consultant/Author of the Report.

The CSO Sustainability Index is a tool created by USAID to study the strength and overall viability of CSO sectors in countries of operation.

Ghana was among the first sub-Saharan African countries that participated in the assessment in 2009, with the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) as the local implementer.

The 2021 index report is the 14th edition since it was started in sub-Saharan Africa and measures the sustainability of each country’s CSO sector based on the CSOSI’s seven dimensions-legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, sectoral infrastructure, and public image.

A CSO is rated as “sustainability impeded” if the scores correspond to between 5.1 and 7 points, while “sustainability evolving” corresponds to a score between 3.1 and 5 points, and “sustainability enhanced” corresponds to a score between 3 and 1 point.

The overall 2021 CSO sustainability index report was stable with a score of 4.2 points, while financial viability scored 6.3 points and sectoral infrastructure recorded 4.7 points.

Mr Quartey said CSOs’ legal environment improved slightly in the 2021 report as the setting up of the Non-Profit Organization Secretariat eased the registration process.

The reports revealed that CSOs’ organisational capacity deteriorated slightly in the report as cutbacks in donor funding undermined their activities, while their advocacy improved slightly on a range of important policy issues, such as inputs into the national budget making process.

On public image, the report revealed that partnerships between the media and CSOs remained strong, as media houses regularly consulted CSO staff for independent assessments of government policies.

The report showed a strong correlation between declining funding and organizational capacity to deliver and further showed the preparedness of the short-term project funding module on CSO sustainability.

Mr Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Fellow, IDEG, said as international development partners and donor agencies were gradually cutting off funding support to CSOs, African governments must create funding support for their local CSOs.

He said the challenge of CSOs was also the challenge of democracy because they played a key role in the democratic governance of a country.

Mr Dela Ashiagbor, Head, NPO Secretariat, said the Government had given tax exemptions to CSOs, but some had abused the system and used the opportunity for their own private enterprises.
He said the Government was developing a platform for volunteerism to encourage Ghanaians to register and inculcate the spirit of patriotism.

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