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Civil Movements Fund

This is an initiative to support democratic engagement from citizens and society.

Collective action for social change

The Civil Movements Fund was initiated by DMF and set up in collaboration with the DOEN foundation and Porticus. With this fund, we provide three-year support to groups of citizens who work towards structural societal change through collective action. We are also experimenting with a more proactive and participatory way of working and sharing lessons on the effects of our support and the innovative way of working within philanthropy.

Investing in citizens’ movements

It is crucial for a well-functioning democratic rule of law that citizens feel sufficiently involved in shaping society. In recent years, however, a democratic deficit seems to have emerged. Many people are worried about the direction in which the Netherlands is heading. There is also little confidence that government and parliament are able to effectively tackle major and urgent problems in our society.

At the same time, we see a revival of citizens’ movements in the Netherlands. These are people who champion social change, outside of political parties and civil society organisations. Citizens who unite and speak out about problems at their own initiative, who push for change and who want to contribute to potential solutions.

Through this fund, DMF aims to give a positive impetus to citizen engagement in the hope and assumption that this will strengthen the democratic rule of law in the long run.

A programme of learning

Investing in citizens’ movements requires a different approach than we, as a foundation that provides funds, are used to. Self-organising citizens tend to have a much more informal organisational structure and working methods than formal civil society organisations. Funds could also put citizens more at the centre of focus. We believe that philanthropic support can, if well designed, give a positive boost to citizens’ movements.

The Civil Movements Fund is therefore designed as a learning programme. This means experimenting with new ways of working and new forms of support, and actively working to share lessons within philanthropy.

We also want to look at the effect of participatory decision-making in supporting citizens’ movements. That is why decisions on financial support will be made by people from citizens’ movements themselves. We expect that valuable lessons can be learned from this more democratic approach, both for ourselves and for the wider philanthropic sector.

What is our plan?

The Civil Movements Fund is going to:

  • provide funding and other support to groups of citizens working for structural societal change through collective action
  • experiment with an inclusive decision-making process
  • examine the impact of support and ways of working
  • share these lessons with the wider philanthropic sector.

The fund will offer several types of funding: core funding for experienced groups, project funding for training, strategy and exchange and, to a limited extent, action funding for underfunded regions, themes and groups.

Our approach is inclusive and proactive. This involves actively seeking out groups that may be eligible for support, with a particular focus on underserved regions, themes and groups. It also means that we do not decide ourselves where support goes but experiment with an inclusive decision-making process.

If you would like to know more, visit the Civil Movements Fund website .

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