Nagrik Dialogue

Building Civil Society Organisations of the Future

Arthan, a social enterprise that provides capacity building support to social sector organisations, launched ‘Building Civil Society Organisations of the Future’, on 22nd June, 2020 with ‘The Future of Fundraising’ track. This was followed by the ‘Future of Jobs’ , ‘Future of Education’ and most recently, Women’s Leadership in the Development Sector (WLIDS) track,  in collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation

This online-to-offline initiative, which is long term, future-oriented and multi-stakeholder has seen the participation of 1367 participants and 100+ speakers from organisations including The Rockefeller Foundation, Centre for Policy Research, Ford Foundation, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Boston Consulting Group, SEWA Bharat, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, EdelGive Foundation, Mann Deshi  Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Tata Trusts, Dasra, Pratham, Grameen Foundation, Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives, UNICEF India, Ashoka and  IKEA Foundation amongst others. 

On July 30th and 31st, Arthan is bringing the Tomorrow’s Liveable Cities track in collaboration with BORDA, and knowledge partnership with Nagrika. While India’s urban population is estimated to cross 800 million by 2030 and urban infrastructure spending is growing, there is little focus on how to holistically address the challenges in creating inclusive, liveable and sustainable cities that can support India’s ambitions. This track will explore HOW urban management can be made more effective in India to create liveable , happy cities thereby raising the quality of life of all urban Indians. Some eminent speakers for this track are: Naina Lal Kidwai (Former CEO & Country Head, HSBC India, India Sanitation Coalition) and Arun Maira (Former India Chairman, BCG & Former Planning Commission of India member) among others. This will be followed by the Impact Investing track on the 21st of August, which will include a masterclass by Prof. Jasjit Singh  (INSEAD) amongst other panels. We also have tracks on Gender, Strategy, Data and Technology and Governance coming up till October 2020.

We need to start looking inwards. This is the start of a new chapter for civil society. It is in our darkest hour that we realise who we really are. And I am confident that we can come together and build societies and organisations to build the future”,  Moutushi Sengupta, MacArthur Foundation while delivering the Keynote address at the Future of Fundraising track, which brought together stakeholders to discuss how funding towards the sector will change in the coming years and what NGOs need to do to sustain and continue creating lasting impact. The investments made by foundations in attendance was USD 2.6 billion. Key takeaways included the need for Foundations to collaborate and partner locally and for CSOs to clearly define their vision and consider scalability and sustainability when approaching Foundations for grants.

We are in extraordinary times. Due to Covid, everyone can see so clearly the role that civil society plays in strengthening the social fabric and building the society,  in complementing or at times even substituting for the role of government. This should make us reflect much harder about the role that we play in shaping society and this should open us up to more internal dia logues, critique and self-reflection because what we do in our everyday lives has a huge impact on the everyday lives of all those whom we serve.”, Yamini Aiyar, Centre for Policy Research in her keynote address at the Future of Jobs track. Key takeaways from this track include: there is no ‘one’ ideal path to a social impact career and that skills that will gain prominence include courage, resilience, perseverance, strong ethical and moral compass and the ability to turn ideas into action.

The Future of Education  track discussed the need for CSOs and government to reimagine learning, define the purpose of education and take up a collective responsibility for systemic change. Takeaways included the need for collaboration, where the governments bring scale and private partners and NGOs bring technology/innovation as well as the need for experimentation, building resilience and creating learning mindsets. “Three pillars that will be important moving forward- First, businesses that innovate and adapt will be the ones that survive in this constantly changing and uncertain future. Secondly, entrepreneurs who are persistent rather than those who are ‘chance entrepreneurs’ will be key in solving for many challenges. And lastly, organisations that have a strong structural environment and have a healthy economic footprint will be responsible for taking the sector forward.” said Patrick Obonyo, IKEA Foundation in the panel discussing education to employment as a part of this track. 

Most recently, the Women’s Leadership in the Development Sector track discussed topics ranging from the role of men as allies to funding for women-led organisations, evidence-based solutions to accelerate women leaders, and women working in conflict zones. . “I have to thank my father who not only wouldn’t hold me back as was traditionally expected but pushed me even harder – some days I didn’t feel like society’s conception of a girl, and truth be told, sometimes I really disliked it. I wanted to not be pushed to champion everything with jest and not work harder to make my voice heard. Now, it all seems like the necessary boot camp for a professional career in development.”  said Deepali Khanna, The Rockefeller Foundation in her keynote address to kick off  this track. 

Through the Building Civil Society Organisations of the Future initiative Arthan  seeks to address ecosystem challenges and opportunities, in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, progress towards which has been pushed back as a result of the pandemic. The initiative will run from June 2020 to December 2021, and is meant to co-create solutions, co-evolve out of the pandemic, and define the future of civil society organisations in India. The program is bringing together experts, practitioners, and thought leaders across themes including but not limited to gender, climate change, strategy, governance and capacity building.  This constantly evolving universe will bring together 3,000 speakers and build the capacity of 10,000 CSOs across sectors, over the next two years. 

Satyam Vyas, Founder & CEO, Arthan says, “The world is reeling under a pandemic and question marks have been placed on the future – of individuals, organisations, countries and the world economy. Conversations about scripting a new normal have become the norm. But we have to script the new normal now, and define it for the next decade if we want to achieve the development goals .”

With this thought at the centre, Arthan’s social impact initiative seeks to create a collaborative of those working towards accelerating progress, creating a space for dialogue and actionable steps. In the first phase from June-October 2020, Arthan is convening this ecosystem where all social sector leaders voice their opinion – leaders who have ‘walked the talk’ time and again and who can guide the sector to move towards the right direction. The convenings and sessions that are a part of this long term initiative, will be open to people from around the world and will have sessions based on a freemium model.

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Nagrik Dialogue is the face of Nagrik Foundation’s communication skills that comes in the form of a monthly magazine. It will work as a bridge for those working at the grass roots level and those who support them in any form and manner.