About Us

Our Story

Founded in 2007, by Peter Eigen and Burkhard Gnärig, the International Civil Society Centre was set up to support international civil society organisations maximise their impact for a sustainable and more equitable world.

Today, the Centre is owned by 15 of the largest international civil society organisations (ICSOs), who work across environmental, human rights, social justice and humanitarian issues.

What is our Vision and Mission?

Our Vision and guiding star is the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals with the ambition to end all forms of poverty, achieve social justice and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Our Mission is to strengthen the impact and resilience of international civil society organisations and to support people to change their world for the better.

Who do we work with?

Our core clientele spans the largest and most influential ICSOs. We also forge partnerships with other organisations and platforms from civil society as well as academia, media and social business innovating for positive change.

How do we work?

Global & impactful: For more than a decade, the Centre has brought together the leadership of the 30 most influential ICSOs. They engage in the Centre’s events, board and leadership meetings and co-shape projects in steering committees. No other organisation is as well positioned to know the hearts and minds of the sector’s leadership. Based on this trust and commitment, the Centre develops successful programmes to achieve a joint vision which will create the greatest impact.

Collaborative & inclusive: The Centre’s programmes and activities bring together ICSOs with leaders from think tanks, media, business, politics and other CSOs. This intermediary environment allows to leave logos and egos outside and foster effective knowledge and capacity pooling. At the same time, voices from communities and local CSOs are an integral part to the Centre’s work and thus assure truly participatory and self-reflective partnerships.

Thought-provoking & innovative: The Centre offers a trend scanning capacity by bringing together civil society as well as private and public sector strategist on the Scanning the Horizon platform. Inspired by cross-sector learning and best practice exchange, the Centre aims to challenge traditional business models and operations in international civil society organisations. Achieving our joint vision is only possible by preparing for the future.

Agile & responsive: The Centre has a comparatively small ownership model and operates on frequent and swift liaisons between Centre and ICSO staff. The Centre implemented a dynamic strategic direction that allows for rapid programme responses such as ad hoc convening’s to find joint solutions to unprecedented challenges in the sector.

What have we achieved?

What do our supporters enable us to do?

After having established our role as a convenor, innovator and platform for collaboration it is now time to scale up and enable the Centre to push for more impact and joint action in the global civil society sector. Our owners already provide significant resources to secure and develop the Centre’s capacity. Yet, some challenges demand more help: The Centre therefore invites foundations, development agencies and responsible corporates to become supporters and together solve the global challenges that no single organisation can solve alone. As a comparatively small organisation with a huge global lever, every supporter contribution will directly translate into an enhanced sector efficiency and impact. For us, it is not about getting bigger but about getting better at what the sector is already good at.