Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society

Defending civic space

The Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society (FICS) was established in 2016 to develop a strategic funders’ response to the systemic challenge of closing civic space.

Around the world, civic space – the freedom and space for individuals and organisations to share ideas, promote social cohesion, and advance shared interests – is under threat. Activists and civil society organisations face growing legal restrictions, hostile rhetoric in the media or by political actors, new barriers to foreign funding, intimidation, and – in more severe cases – arrest, detention, and even violence. FICS and its partners believe that private philanthropy has an important role to play in helping civil society to resist closing space and in ensuring it continues to operate even if space is closing or closed.


We support funders to seek thoughtful and creative responses to the challenges of escalating needs and shrinking resources, and aspire to create a world where services stretch to all who need them and where we make long term decisions that have lasting impact. This approach is being trialled by the Early Action Neighbourhood Fund. The five year £5.3 million project aims to reduce future demand for public services (e.g. children’s services, mental health budgets and housing support) by providing innovative models of intensive preventative support right now.

EAFA was inspired by the work of the Early Action Taskforce. You can find a list of their publications here, as well as signing up for their monthly early action briefing here.


With thanks to: American Jewish World Service, Arcus Foundation, Ariadne Asfari Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders, Ford Foundation, Fund for Global Human Rights, Human Rights Funders Network, Mama Cash, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Wallace Global Fund for their support to FICS.

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