Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Civil Society Toolkit

Strengthening the skills of citizens, civil society and marginalized groups to raise awareness of community interests and concerns and advocate for them effectively.

In politics, it is easy for leaders to lapse into the habit of thinking that they understand people’s concerns without actually consulting them.  Our civil society programs respect the fact that citizens have a right to peacefully assemble and advocate on their own for policies and actions that are important to them. 

In the context of each society, we recognize that there are ways to do so that are more appropriate and effective than others as we help citizens improve their capacity to engage civil society organizations and, in turn, work with these organizations to help them reach out more effectively to political leaders. 

In turn, we help politicians create opportunities to listen citizens and civil society groups.  We provide grassroots workshops on how to use tools such as face-to-face communication, text messaging, emails, social networks and mass media to advocate for policies.  We connect organizations at the regional level to increase their impact through conferences and shared activities, as well as involve them in multilateral processes. 

Fast Facts

Civil society in the Americas comprises a wide array of organizations, associations (formal and informal), movements, academia, not-for profit professional and corporate social responsibility groups, nongovernmental and not-for profit organizations, trade unions, foundations, faith-based institutions, and a range of groupings that seek to represent the interests of specific communities.  These groups number in the tens of thousands and the number grows every day.  In recognition of their importance, such international conferences as the Summit of the Americas are now including them in special forums. 

Some of Our Successes

We include some aspect of civil society strengthening in every country where we work, and we work at both regional and global levels to help connect civil society organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean with similar organizations around the word to share experiences and enhance their impact. 

In July 2015, we led a delegation of civil society representatives from Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Serbia to the Eighth Community of Democracies Ministerial Conference hosted by the government of El Salvador.  The conference addressed youth issues, social inclusion, entrepreneurship, protection of journalists, digital democracy, inside a common theme of engaging civil society.  We also hosted a panel discussion “Strengthening the Role of Municipal Organizations in Implementing Open Government at the Local Level” at the Open Government Partnership Summit in Mexico City in October.  

The generous support of individuals and corporations enable IRI staff and volunteers to carry out its mission around the world. With your help, IRI will continue its mission of hope for decades to come.

IRI is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions are tax deductible

Ways to support