In February 2019, Civitates gathered its grantees working for a strong and resilient civil society in La Hulpe, near Brussels. The two-day meeting was the first opportunity for the grantees to get to know each other, and for the cohort to come together and form its group identity. At the same time, it was a great opportunity for Civitates and its funders to get to know the grantees and their needs.
The meeting brought together 26 representatives from the 13 cross-sectoral coalitions that are actively working to strengthen civil society in the following nine countries: Hungary (3), Poland (2), Bulgaria (2), Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, and France. Several funder representatives joined as well.
While all coalitions operate at the national level and the approach taken by the coalitions varies, all of them include both reactive and pro-active elements aimed at building up resilience and the capacity to stand up against the deterioration of democratic values in their sectors. So there was a great interest to strategize together.
Throughout the meeting participants presented their coalition’s strategies and tackled issues like strategic communications, alliance building, mapping and monitoring, activists’ well-being, and communicating with the undecided middle. A short “communications 101” workshop, a discussion about monitoring and evaluation, and a session called “I’m a funder, ask me anything” were organized as well.
The meeting was a great opportunity for the grantees to learn about the work taking place in the various countries, as well as to get to know more about Civitates and the funders supporting the initiative. It also nicely set the tone for the many more exchanges to come!
Within the framework of Funding Plus, Civitates regularly gathers its grantees to foster cooperation and cross-border networking. This was the first meeting with the grantees working on a strong and resilient civil society.