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Our hopes for this report

We –– the International Civil Society Centre and JustLabs –– hope this report:

Recognises the amazing efforts of the “invisible innovators” who cannot communicate openly or visibly about their work because it could put them at risk. We hope it encourages international colleagues and partners who can speak out publicly about these efforts to do so.

Offers you creative inspiration as you explore strategies to reach new audiences, engage new tools and tactics and devise new ways of working in populist contexts.

Illustrates how strategies not originally designed as direct responses to the challenges associated with populism can be highly effective, either individually or in tandem with others.

Increases your knowledge of diverse  populist contexts and civil society responses to them in different regions of the world, from the well known to the less publicised.

Inspires sharing and learning across our sector, thereby catalysing further innovation and ultimately a stronger and more resilient civil society. We want to spur organisations to work together to implement and scale these strategies, wherever possible.


Our reasons for the report

The International Civil Society Centre’s 2019–2021 strategy aims to highlight innovations that can benefit the civil society sector internationally. We seek to advance understanding of the most promising innovations, both inside and outside our sector, that can be applied to tackle common challenges. Meanwhile, our partner in this shared adventure, JustLabs, was created to provide a space in which such innovations can be brought to life, tested and shared with the wider social change field. To achieve our joint aims, we have collected and shared some of the most inspiring and interesting examples in this new annual Innovation Report format with the hope of fostering an interactive platform for sharing innovative ideas and best practices among international and local civil society organisations and networks.

Civil society organisations are innovators. They test new approaches to both traditional and emerging problems. One of today’s most pressing issues is the rise of populism, which can both erode and in some instances directly attack, these organisations’  legitimacy and impact. While civil society organisations have addressed these challenges, there is a significant opportunity for organisations to learn and benefit from the lessons others have encountered. That is the goal of this inaugural report.


Our thanks for this report

A huge thanks to all of our 14 case study collaborators: All Out, Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS, FemPlatz, Greenpeace International/Hungary, Hope-Based Communications, InterAction, IREX, Operation Libero, RNW Media, Save the Children International/Myanmar, TechSoup and partners ePaństwo Foundation (EPF), K-Monitor, ActionSEE and Opora, and Video Volunteers, as well as our communications partner, VerbalVisual.

Also a special mention to Accountable Now, Civic Initiatives, Islamic Relief International, the OECD Public Sector Innovation Team, and Oxfam Novib for their advice and guidance on the way. Thanks to all our future contributors–– past, present and future!––in the online version of this report.

And thank you to our cooperation partners Heinrich Böll Stiftung and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

We could not have done this report without your support and inspiration.


About us

About the International Civil Society Centre

About JustLabs


The lead author and editor of this report was Vicky Tongue from the International Civil Society Centre, with co-authors Krizna Gomez and Thomas Coombes from JustLabs. Case studies were written by or co-written with the contributing organisations.

Aside from imagery and fonts, all content in this report is licensed under Creative Commons: CC-BY-NC-ND: Attribution – Non-Commercial Use – No Derivatives 4.0. Font and imagery rights are retained by their respective copyright owners.

Innovation Report     2019