The Hedgehog & the Beetle

The Hedgehog & the Beetle

New book about the future of the civil society sector

The Centre’s former Executive Director, Burkhard Gnärig's book The Hedgehog and the Beetle – Disruption and Innovation in the Civil Society Sector, presents his views on the future of international civil society organisations (ICSOs). His main message is that in order to survive and thrive, ICSOs need to re-invent themselves. The book will be published on 21 April 2015 and can be ordered as an e-book or paperback on To watch the teaser please scroll down or click here.

“Highly successful, widely trusted and globally applauded, ICSOs such as Oxfam, Greenpeace and Amnesty International are major players on the global stage. However, fundamental change in the outside world threatens their role and future existence: Shrinking space for civic participation hinders their work in many countries; climate change, persistent poverty and growing inequality make it harder for them to achieve their missions; and the rise of the internet disrupts their business models.

At the same time ICSOs are needed more than ever. As humanity reaches, and increasingly oversteps, the limits of the resources our planet provides and the pollution it can absorb, we urgently have to embark on the transition towards a sustainable, fair and equitable world. Governments on their own will not be able to undertake this transition. Effective civil society organisations have to help to chart the way, setting positive examples and bringing citizens on board.

In order to play this role ICSOs have to reinvent themselves. They have to:
-swap their charitable identity for an activist one;
-develop a more flexible, adaptable and entrepreneurial organisational culture;

-adopt new, innovative business models;
-streamline management and governance to raise their effectiveness at the global level;
-improve their overall performance based on transparency and accountability;
-get out of their silos and form alliances in order to strengthen their impact.

The Hedgehog and the Beetle describes the key features of effective global civil society organisations and charts the journey today’s ICSOs have to undertake to turn themselves into successful drivers of the transition.”

Discuss the future of the civil society sector on Disrupt&Innovate!

Based on the book, the Centre will initiated an online discussion about the future of the civil society sector. Civil society professionals and activists are invited to contribute to the debate and develop solutions to the challenges the sector is facing. The aim is to trigger a wide discussion about the changes needed.

For any questions or further information please email Miriam Niehaus (


As a former CEO of terre des homes Germany, Greenpeace Germany and Save the Children International, an adviser to Amnesty International, CARE, Oxfam, Plan and other leading ICSOs and the co-founder of the Centre, Burkhard has a unique overview on developments in the sector.