CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

CSI Preliminary Steps















Step 1: Preliminary mapping of available secondary research and the identification of data gaps


This activity involves conducting an initial mapping of the secondary research data available in the country and identifying data gaps according to the Secondary Data Checklist. A thorough review of existing international, national and local sources with data relevant to the country must be conducted in order to better understand the availability of relevant data.  


NOTE: In those countries that participated in the CSI phase 2003-2006, the NCO(s) should also make use of the country report to identify data gaps and country-specific objectives on the basis of past recommendations. 


Step 2: Definition of country-specific objectives


To define country-specific objectives, the NCO(s) should refer to Annex II.1.2 of the toolkit, which outlines the CSI’s logical framework, and the NCO(s) should endeavour to rank outcomes and outputs in order of their own national priorities. Although the log-frame will need to be validated by the Advisory Committee (AC) at a later stage (see Concept note for more information), it will nevertheless assist the NCO(s) in formulating a coherent work plan and develop a fundraising strategy.


Step 3: Develop a work plan defining primary research and consultative activities


On the basis of the first and second steps above, and the Work Plan Template (provided in Annex II.1.3 of the toolkit), key details of the various project activities (e.g., organisational survey sample size, number of external stakeholders to be surveyed, number of case studies) need to be determined and specified in the second column of the work plan (‘Notes’). Those research activities that will not be undertaken – whether due to the existence of useful data or lack of funding – should be deleted from the work plan.  At this stage, the NCO should be able to identify the ideal structure of primary research and consultative activities that will be conducted in order to yield meaningful and valid findings, as well as create a momentum for action, matching the priority objectives of the implementation process.  The outcomes of this step should be shared and discussed with CIVICUS.


Step 4: Draft budget defining available financial & human resources


Referring to Annex II.1.4 of the toolkit, two versions of the project implementation budget should be drafted. The ‘mini’ version represents the minimum necessary human and financial resources required to fulfil the priority outcomes of the project. The ‘maxi’ version should identify the optimal level of financial and human resources, as well as desirable activities, required to fulfil all objectives and goals of the project. It is important that both budgets are realistic.


The current project is designed to minimise data collection costs, thus allowing for more emphasis to be placed on the consultative activities that are the cornerstone of the CSI. It is of crucial importance that the project budget (both maxi and mini versions) prioritises the implementation of case studies, a meaningful sample for the two key surveys (organisational and external perceptions), the Advisory Committee (AC) meetings, and the National Workshop. 


Step 5: Devise resource mobilisation strategy


On the basis on the project budget, a resource mobilisation strategy will need to be drafted. Resource mobilisation is about identifying potential donors at the local and international level. Where feasible, NCOs should work together to draft joint proposals, (e.g., covering a particular geographic region).   Diversification of donor funding is also encouraged; that is, when possible, the NCO should include several funding bodies in its strategy. Annex II.1.5of the toolkit provides useful tips and guidelines; if necessary, CIVICUS can provide advice and comment on a country’s resource mobilisation strategy as well as draft a letter of support during this process.


NOTE:  Before implementing the steps outlined in the toolkit (see Step 3 and Annex II.1.3 Work Plan Template), it is compulsory for the NCO to have secured at least 40% of the ‘mini’ version of the project budget. The NCO must then continue to raise funds in order to cover the remaining costs.


Step 6: Design communications strategy


In order to achieve the greatest impact, the NCO should publicise different aspects of the CSI (including purposes, activities and preliminary results) at salient points in the CSI implementation process, not just at the end. As a preparatory step, the NCO will need to devise a communications strategy to disseminate the information, which CIVICUS believes is one of the most important ways of ensuring the CSI has broad impact in your country. Annex II.1.7 provides information and tips to help in designing the communications strategy, which will need to be reviewed and updated as project implementation proceeds and opportunities develop during which process CIVICUS will also provide assistance.


Step 7: Set up National Index Team (NIT)


The NIT includes the following individuals/ task teams, and the general respective roles are thus:


  • National Coordinator (NC): Responsible for the overall coordination and management of the project. The NC will take the lead during the nine steps and coordinate the resource mobilisation efforts. The NC will be the primary contact person for CIVICUS. It is recommended that the NC attend the international training workshop organised by CIVICUS in order to train the rest of the NIT and the Advisory Committee. This role requires high levels of commitment and availability throughout the CSI process.
  • Civil Society Specialist (CSS): Responsible for drafting the research reports and participating in various other activities within the project.       
  • Researcher: Responsible for implementing and facilitating the primary research, in particular the organisational survey, the external perceptions survey, the population survey (where applicable), and the case studies. The Researcher will lead all consultative activities including the focus groups (where applicable), the Advisory Committee meetings, and the National Workshop. This role requires a qualified researcher with experience in both qualitative and quantitative research. The level of intensity of this position is high during the implementation of the research activities.


In coordination with CIVICUS, the NCO(s) can define additional research and human resource needs and actors for the implementation process. Ideally these roles will be fulfilled by separate individuals, but may be used in combination according to individual and organizational skills and capacity.


The NIT can be established while these preliminary steps are being undertaken. What is important in conducting these preliminary tasks and activities is to have the necessary structures and plans in place to successfully implement the project BEFORE attending the training workshop.


Step 8: Social Forces Analysis


The purpose of this exercise is to create two visual ’maps’ of influential actors in their country in order to a) identify and discuss the relationship between civil society actors and other influential actors within society at large and b) identify and discuss relationships among influential civil society groups within civil society.  The process you went through to conduct this exercise will be discussed at the training workshop, and the outcomes of this exercise will be validated and discussed in the first Advisory Committee meeting.


Step 9: Review of Secondary Data and Creation of Overview Matrix


As outlined in Preliminary Step 1 above, the NCO should have conducted a basic analysis of the availability of secondary data (internationally and nationally). This analysis is necessary to identify the project activities and draft the budget.


After completing these preliminary steps above however, the NCO should then conduct a comprehensive review of all existing and necessary quantitative and qualitative data referring to each indicator data source, and collect this information into one document. Annex II.1.9 provides a framework for the input of both secondary and primary data for the CSI Project. This template should also be used as a base to also input the primary data you collect in order to generate the final Civil Society Diamond. This template will also help you to organize your primary and secondary data for easy reference and eventual analysis. At this preliminary point, however, you need only input the secondary data resources you find into this template, and bring this to the training workshop.




There are nine key preliminary steps in the CSI project implementation and the National Coordinating Organisations (NCOs) will take a lead in conducting them. These steps can be undertaken concurrently, and can also be conducted by various members of the National Implementation Team (NIT) (see step 7)




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