A philanthropic initiative for democracy and solidarity in Europe

Civitates provides funding for civil society actors to come together, revitalise public discourse, and ensure that all voices are heard. Because we need a strong civil society to shape vibrant and open European democracies that work for all.

In the spotlight

The future depends on all of us: collective action and lessons from Poland

“It’s important to work together as we are stronger that way, especially to counter governmental attempts to silence us.”

Dorota Setniewska

Communication specialist at NGO Klon/Jawor Association

A governmental attempt to restrict women’s rights in 2020, a proposed tax reform in 2021 that can shrink the space for independent media, and governmental efforts to curtail the judiciary’s independence marked an eventful period for civil society organisations in Poland. Amidst all developments, Polish civil society has learnt that united actions have more impact than individual attempts to counter the worrying trends.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people in Poland still don’t understand the added value of CSOs. We want to improve the public understanding of the nature of civil society organisations and change the perception that CSOs are mainly involved in charity work,” explains Dorota.

We support

Strong and resilient civil society

A vibrant civil society is a key ingredient for democracy. Both NGOs and more informal movements help us make sure that governments are taking decisions that consider all of us. Such civil society groups allow us to join our voices together and make ourselves heard so we can speak regularly to our elected representatives and ensure they provide the appropriate support and care to everyone. Civil society keeps people in power on their toes. 

Healthy digital public sphere

Public discourse plays a vital role in open, democratic societies. It is an important forum through which people can voice their concerns and form opinions. Moreover, public discourse provides input for decision making processes. Digitisation has fundamentally changed the way information is produced, distributed and consumed and thereby affects the public discourse. The implications of these changes cannot yet be fully grasped.

Independent public-interest journalism

Journalism plays a vital role in a democratic society. Often referred to as the fourth pillar of democracy, it provides a platform for dialogue and debate, helping individuals to form their opinions and participate as informed citizens in democratic processes. It also monitors governmental and corporate (in)actions, holding those in power to account. As research has shown, the health of independent media is linked to the health of democracy, with each powering the other

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