Global civil society federations face unique challenges in developing effective approaches to governance that promote greater impact through working together collectively, while remaining accountable to independent national members.

Baobab associates have wide experience of the practical challenges of shaping effective governance structures and processes for global civil society federations. Current areas of focus include:

  • Broadening the Federation:  Most leading global civil society federations have many national affiliates, but 5-8 of the affiliates raise more than 80% of the funding. In an increasingly multi-polar world, many are giving priority to broadening their base of strong national members, especially in established and emerging global powers. Our work in this area focuses on helping global civil society federations to develop effective approaches to building or recruiting strong national members in new countries, drawing on the experience of others. 
  • Establishing Core Standards: When the national members of global civil society federations work together under a common brand, the reputation of all can be damaged by one poorly governed or managed member.  Many leading federations are now looking more widely at how agreed standards for national members can help to strengthen the governance and development of their federation around the world. Our work in this area focuses on helping civil society federations to identify and develop appropriate standards for their context.
  • Role of the Global Centre: Many global civil society federations are seeking to strengthen their impact by working together more closely, and aiming to find a good balance between local autonomy and global efficiency. Our work in this area focuses on reviewing the role of the International Board and Secretariat, and how this can be both efficient and accountable to national members.
  • Strengthening Accountability: Changing public expectations are putting growing pressure on civil society to be more accountable to their stakeholders, especially those they are seeking to serve. A profusion of accountability initiatives have emerged over the last decade.  Our work in this area focused on helping civil society federations to assess which aspects of accountability to prioritise, and how best to promote adoption across their federation


If you would like to discuss how Baobab associates may be able to help you with these or other global governance issues, please contact us for an initial discussion.

For briefings and other resources on the challenges of governance in global civil society federations, please click here