Program Priorities and Operations

Global Philanthropists Circle (Synergos)



Case Study Sector


In Africa, Asia and Latin America, citizen participation through a range of civil society organizations has become a growing and vital force. Civil society organizations have brought significant material and human resources from the community level to bear on poverty problems through donations of time, energy, materials and money. Locally managed and controlled organizations that provide direct financial support to other organizations within their societies have been established over the last decade in many southern countries. Few of them were created with a single large endowment, as was the case with most northern private foundations. Most of them rely on a wide range of strategies to mobilize financial resources, including earned income contributions from individuals and corporations and grants from international organizations. Some managed donor-designated or donor-advised funds following the US community foundation experience.
To distinguish this type of southern foundationlike organization from northern foundations, the term "civil society resource organization," or CSRO, has been proposed. This term refers to organizations which combine financial assistance to community-based organizations and NGOs with other forms of support for organizations or the civil society sector as a whole.
Civil society resource organizations were created to promote social and economic development in their own societies of Asia, Africa, or Latin America. Their primary means of promoting development were their programs, through which they provided financial and other kinds of assistance to social development actors. This paper compares the programs of eight CSROs in order to understand how they were developed and implemented. The programs may be understood best in the context of the CSROs’ identities as dual nature organizations, with commitments both to social and economic development impact and to financial resource generation. Their programs were strongly influenced by the needs of social development actors and their own beliefs about how to promote development. Yet, because they depended on having significant financial resources to fund their programs, they were also strongly influenced by the needs of financial resource generation and administration. The specific ways in which these dual commitments affected the design and operation of the programs are discussed throughout this paper.



  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Latin America

Blog Posts


Jan 27

JOIN US Wednesday, January 27th at 4:30 PM, on Zoom, for a VIRTUAL discussion on reinventing local journalism with philanthropic and civic capital. Registration is Required