Finland’s Evaluation on development cooperation by civil society organisations

Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs has commissioned an independent evaluation of the development cooperation of 22 Finnish civil society organisations. The evaluation praises the organisations for their cost-effective work at grassroots level, but urges them to further improve their long-term effectiveness and the work to strengthen civil societies in their target countries.

pdf CSO3 Meta-analysis (in English, PDF file, 155 pages, 930 kb)

CSO3_kansiStrengthening civil societies in developing countries is an important goal in Finland’s development policy. Civil society actors can significantly boost people’s equal opportunities to engage in public debate and influence political decision-making. This strengthens democracy in societies. With programme-based support Finnish civil society organizations (CSOs) support civil societies in developing countries, provide services and participate in advocacy and global education. The CSOs also have an important role in delivering humanitarian assistance and thereby complimenting Finland’s overall humanitarian assistance by providing important know-how and technical expertise in different sectors.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) evaluated the multiyear programme-based support (PBS) funding modality in three parts. The evaluation assessed the performance of the PBS funding instrument as well as the development cooperation programmes of all 22 CSOs receiving PBS. The first evaluation was completed in September 2016, the second in April 2017 and the third in September 2017.

The third part assessed the performance of programmes of five CSOs (Demo Finland, Free Church Federation in Finland, Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland, International Solidarity Foundation and Disability Partnership Finland), three special foundations (Abilis Foundation, KIOS Foundation and Siemenpuu Foundation) as well as two umbrella organizations (Kehys and Kepa). The third part also aggregated the results of all three rounds of evaluation on PBS and made recommendations to the MFA to further develop the PBS funding instrument.

Video interview

Watch Team Leader Nick Chapman’s video interview

Webinar presentation

Watch the webinar presentation of the meta-analysis 27.9.2017

Evaluation reports of the CSO3:

pdf CSO3 Synthesis report (in English, PDF file, 158 pages; 1 Mb)

Programme-based support is the most important aid the Ministry grants to development cooperation programmes of CSOs. It accounts for some 75 per cent of the aid the Unit for Civil Society at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs grants to CSOs. Individual CSOs have received aid for EUR 1–53 million in 2010–2016.

The Finnish CSOs have delivered good results especially in providing services to people out of reach of other support, according to the evaluation. They are able to work in very difficult environments, including fragile states. However, there is only a little information on longer term outcomes. The CSOs are urged to pay more attention to efforts to strengthen local civil society. They should also be further improving the sustainability of their work.

The evaluation also assesses the efficiency of the programme-based support as a financing channel, and gives recommendations to both CSOs and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Programme-based support has made it easier to integrate the development cooperation by CSOs into the Finnish development policy. In future, the links between the CSOs and other Finnish development cooperation should be improved, according to the evaluation. It further recommends that CSOs collaborate with companies, for example.

Programme-based support is a flexible and predictable means of financing for CSOs. The evaluation recommends that programme-based support be granted for at least four years.

“The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has already addressed some of the evaluation’s recommendations. For example, it has extended the term of the programme-based support from three years to four. Both CSOs and the Ministry will improve their effectiveness. We will discuss the recommendations for CSOs together with each organisation,” says Jyrki Nissilä, Director of the Unit for Civil Society. Source: MFA.