Civil Society


The ability of citizens to work together for the common good – ie a vibrant, resilient civil society – is crucial in making societies fair, open, inclusive and prosperous. Civil society engages citizens, especially young people in their community, holds the state and the market accountable, and supports and advocates for vulnerable groups.

The space for civil society and funding is increasingly scarce. The political instability in the Levant, and the uprising turned into a devastating war in Syria, highlight the instrumental role civil society can play in alleviating the suffering of people, the provision of basic services, and building  a more democratic future. After decades of suppressing civil society in Syria, a new wave of emerging Syrian civil society organisations are struggling to address the needs of their fellow citizens (whether displaced inside Syria or refugees in the region) while also building their capacity and governance structures. In Lebanon, numerous civil society organisations are challenged by sectarianism, a weak state, economic hardship, security concerns and the influx of refugees. In Palestine, the continuing occupation, political polarisation and dependence of foreign aid heavily impact civil society. In the UK, while civil society is more established than in the Levant, cuts in public spending, increased privatisation, citizen apathy, a growing income gap between rich and poor and pressures on community cohesion make the role of civil society as important as ever.

These challenges require new and innovative solutions. The Asfari Foundation’s Civil Society Programme aims to support a new generation of involved, informed and active young people who want to nurture positive change from within their communities, and find solutions to the acute challenges they and their communities and countries face.

What we do

The goal of the Asfari Foundation’s Civil Society Programme is to contribute to resilient and vibrant civil societies in the Foundation’s target countries. We believe that we can achieve this through strengthening civil society organisations and activists, conducting and disseminating research, and creating powerful networks. The Foundation:

  • provides bursaries and fellowships for young civil society leaders to help them develop the skills and experiences that enable them to lead within their organisations and communities.
  • supports research and reporting, particularly by young people and civil society activists, so as to find solutions to various challenges.
  • strengthens civil society .
  • encourages networking and the exchange of ideas among civil society organisations and practitioners.

Further information on the Foundation’s current Civil Society Programme partners can be found to the right of this page. Organisations interested in applying for a grant should click here for details on how to apply for a grant.

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Information for Grant Applicants Read More