Now is the time to step up our ambitions: observations from our convening

In a two-day online convening, the Civitates’ grantee partners working for a strong and resilient civil society shared hopes and worries about the impact of the pandemic (and the social and economic crisis that followed) on the civic space and on their work. There was a real sense of optimism throughout the discussions, as civil society across Europe is showing tremendous value right now. Many civic actors have repurposed themselves pretty much overnight, adding relief dimensions to their work and shifting many of their activities online. Impressive numbers of people have been mobilised for solidarity initiatives, as the crisis has highlighted the need for caring and inclusion.

How is Covid-19 changing the digital sphere?

Concentrating on the threats that responses to the current health crisis present to the digital sphere is necessary, but we shouldn’t forget that the crisis creates some opportunities too.

Last week we (virtually) convened our grantees working towards a healthy digital public sphere. The discussions highlighted that when talking about digitalisation, it can be difficult to think along positive lines. After all, we’re seeing negative online tendencies, such as online misinformation influencing election outcomes and a lack of transparency on how our data is handled and used by advertising and targeting companies – just to name a few.

Strenghtening relations across the coalitions

Civitates’ grantees who have received funds for their work on advancing a ‘strong and resilient society’ came together for the second time. The meeting mainly focused on strenghtening relations across the coalitions, which operate in many different countries. Apart from sharing updates, peer to peer advice and the exploration of possible collaboration, participants also attended an inspiring workshop on hope-based communication and learned more about how to use advocacy to strengthen the space for civil society in Europe. Representatives of some of the foundations that are part of Civitates took part in the meeting as well.

Grantees come together for a healthier public discourse online

Civitates gathered in Brussels, all grantees that have received funds for their work on ‘improving the digital information ecosystem in Europe’. Representatives of some of the philanthropic foundations that are part of Civitates took part in the convening as well. It was the first time for the grantees to meet as a group and while learning more about each other’s work, possible ways of collaboration were explored as well. And that happened not only in the scheduled sessions! During breaks the meeting rooms were buzzing from enthusiastic and excited conversations.

I’m a funder, ask me anything

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.