Video series: Grassroots Resilience in Action

Video series: Grassroots Resilience in Action

We are glad to share this short collection of video stories produced by grassroots activists from around the world. These five storytellers were selected and supported to create videos about their realities, the inspiration and ideals that drive their brave work, the risks and stigmas they face continuously, and their challenges accessing funds to serve their communities and ensure their own wellbeing.

These stories represent and amplify grassroots voices and visions in their own way. They are honest, open, vulnerable and creative!

The activists involved aim to raise awareness mainly among the international community of civil society donors and allies about the power, impact and resilience of grassroots activists and groups. Grassroots activists are leading critical transformations, and their impact must be more visible and acknowledged! At the same time, they want to highlight their hardships, the need for improving the quantity and quality of resources directed to the grassroots, and the need for cultivating authentic solidarity and partnerships that are free from the transactional, colonialist, racist, invalidating and dehumanising dynamics that rule the current aid system.


  1. The art of ‘criminal’ tribes

Credit: Keyur Bajrange, Budhan Theatre, India


“I was 18 years old. At midnight, I heard some noises outside my home. There were police beating hundreds of innocent people in my community, including children and women. We were scared. I did not understand what was going on. My father tried to call someone. At 5:30 am the noises from outside stopped. My father and his close colleague filed the lawsuit against the police for beating, lynching and abusing us for no crime. Our only ‘crime’ was that we belonged to the Chhara community which was one of the tribes along with 198 other communities in India which were notified as ‘born criminals’ under the Criminal Tribes Act 1871 by the British Government,” remembers Keyur Bajrange, audiovisual producer and member of the Budhan Theater.

That law was repealed in 1949 and the communities were denotified, but they continue carrying social stigma until now. Keyur produced this video to raise awareness about this stigma and to make visible the powerful impact of the Budhan Theatre, a community theater group confounded by his father and other members of their tribe. The members of the Budhan Theatre see themselves as ‘born artists’ and are using the power of their art to defeat those toxic narratives affecting denotified communities around the country, empowering them to raise their voice confidently against injustice and claim their human and constitutional rights.


2.   What it is like being an activist in Nigeria

Credit: Priye Diri, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Nigeria


One in three women are victims of sexual and gender-based violence before the age of 18 in Nigeria.  Despite this grim reality, the government’s response to this crisis is often inadequate. Human rights defenders have stepped up to provide victims with round-the-clock support, responding to crisis calls, helping survivors and coordinating with medical, law enforcement, legal aid and other resources. Their work is crucial in making a difference for these victims, but at what price?

In this video, human rights defender and first responder, Priye Diri portrays five activists (including herself) who share what their work looks like. Their testimonies show how first responders put in hours of unpaid work, face a range of discriminations and stigma due to their gender, disability or other social identities and lack proper funding and support to do this work. They are seen as proverbial “magicians”– expected to arrive and save the day – but are not appreciated, recognised or supported.  This leaves them vulnerable and exposed to secondary trauma, suffering from emotional and psychological effects. Their organisations often go through temporary closures due to lack of funding.

Priye calls on donors to provide funding that properly considers the well-being of first responders and recognises their invaluable work while making funding more accessible to grassroots organisations and people with disabilities.


3.     We need to get more funding

Credit: Juan Donoso, Formando Rutas, Chile


Meet Ranita del Loa, an adorable, brave and persistent activist frog working to save the ecosystems around the Loa River, in the Atacama Desert in Chile, from the dangers of irresponsible mining. Ranita not only has to fight big mining corporations but also power dynamics and censoring from the donor that gave them funds to produce a documentary.

If you are an activist, this must sound quite familiar!

This animation by Formando Rutas, a locally led educational project about lithium mining in the Atacama Desert. They came up with the idea for this animation from their own experiences with some philanthropic institutions that provided funds for their audiovisual productions. Several times, they have been asked to exclude or reformulate phrases because the script is seen as too radical, or because donors prefer not to be associated with making direct accusations to big transnational corporations. Some donors have also asked them not to use terms such as structural racism, gender oppression, green extractivism or even decolonisation (for real!).

Formando Rutas wants to highlight that grassroots activists often must deal with censorship and even self-censorship in order to establish relationships with funders, losing their artistic freedom and blocking their imagination. They invite us to question if accepting grants in these terms is about political correctness, reverence to power, prudence, fear, cowardice, money necessity or everything at once?


4.   Educating through image

Credit: Dieula Jean Louis, Media Elle, Haiti


During her first year as a student at the Ciné Institute in 2014, Dieula Jean Louis realised that women were not taken seriously in the audiovisual field.  When they had the first opportunity to produce a short audiovisual for an assignment, Dieula witnessed how even female directors preferred male over female students to do photo direction, editing, production, directing and other tasks. When she was ready to graduate, she promised herself to train a generation of women in the technical areas of audiovisual production. Since then, she’s been part of the grassroots association Media Elle, which is training women in Haiti in different technical trades of audiovisual production and encouraging them to believe in their own potential in this industry.

In this video, Dieula shows the work of Media Elle and its positive impact on the women that participate in their trainings. These women are not only fighting stereotypes and discrimination in the audiovisual field, but they are often also facing gender discrimination and violence in their personal lives. Some women receiving trainings are now using their skills to promote women’s rights through video.

As an organisation with very limited resources, Media Elle calls on donors to invest more in grassroots-led organisations that play a critical role in responding to the often-neglected needs of their communities.


5.   ‘Artivists’ video series

Credit: Andrés Quintero, Bogotart, Colombia


Urban artists played a fundamental role during the massive social protests that took place in Colombia between 2019 and 2021, helping to turn this social movement into an unprecedented symbol for Colombian society.

With the aim of recognising the great impact of their work as artists and activists, the communication, culture and social change platform Bogotart produced a series of videos called ‘Artivists’. These videos reflect the essence, ideals, trajectory and daily life of artivists who have raised their voices against injustices and the status quo for a more fair and egalitarian society where human rights and the freedom of expression are guaranteed for all.

The series presents these five artivists linked to the world of music, graffiti, photography and urban art: Natu Ral High, DjLu  / Juega Siempre, Alexa Rochi, Gallinas Furiosas and Encuentro Verde Color Café. Go to our YouTube channel to watch all their videos!



5 things grassroots activists want donors and allies to know

5 things grassroots activists want donors and allies to know

Grassroots activists and groups are driving powerful change in their communities and countries, but the support they need to keep going strong isn’t living up to their needs. As part of the Grassroots Solidarity Revolution, we consulted 140 grassroots activists who shared the challenges they face in accessing support from donors and allies and what they need to feel truly nurtured and supported in order to continue their important work.

Here we summarise what these organisers from across 45 countries want donors and allies around the world to know about understanding grassroots realities and the type of support, resources and allyship they need.


1.  Most grassroots activists can’t access the resources and opportunities you offer.

Almost 78% of the survey respondents said that they had requested donor funding in the last two years, but 66% of them did not receive any resources. Interestingly, most grassroots respondents applied to institutional donors[1] which, according to the survey, are the ones with less likelihood, in proportion, of awarding grants to grassroots groups, activists and movements, even though they are often subject to less regulatory oversight.

This is not only demotivating but shows that most activists and groups are investing time and resources they already lack in an unsuccessful quest for funds and support. Perhaps it is time to invest in approaches that will unlock the flow of resources to grassroots groups.

What are the main barriers these groups face when looking for funding opportunities and resources? Here are some clues: 46% of respondents said that the search process itself was the main barrier they experience. Another 19% had difficulty finding donors that support the “less traditional” ways of working of grassroots activists and communities, and 15% mentioned that writing project and funding proposals was their main obstacle to accessing funds.

This means that donors and allies could do something to ease around 80% of the barriers listed by these activists and organisations! For example, you could make the information about your funding and support opportunities more accessible to grassroots groups. You could also help strengthen the skills of local change makers to write those (excessively) challenging funding proposals and reports. And what about building strategies that break down the culture of competition and foster a culture of collaboration and cooperation? Donors and allies can play a critical role in promoting collaboration by incentivising and rewarding collaborative efforts and providing resources to support partnership-building initiatives.

[1] Funding organisations that provide grants to other organisations, or sometimes to individuals, within a policy framework that reflects the organisation’s mandate.


2. Money matters most, but non-financial resources are also needed.

The survey also enquired about the types of resources deemed more important and valuable for grassroots groups and organisations. Unsurprisingly, 67% of respondents said that financial resources are the most valuable to them. Receiving non-financial resources such as support for capacity development came in second place (10%). Respondents also listed infrastructure (e.g. work equipment and working spaces), human capital and social capital (networking) as relevant resources for their work.

So, dear donors and allies, please try and prioritise financial support that is more fairly and easily accessible to grassroots groups. You can help get more money directly into the hands of local communities and partners! But keep in mind that you can also provide support and show solidarity by facilitating key non-financial resources.


3.  The political context is holding back grassroots activists and groups and needs to be factored into your strategies and support modalities.

When asked what their main difficulties are in meeting donor requirements, 36% of respondents indicated the political context of their countries/cities as the number one challenge. Clearly, donors and allies cannot, or at least should not, overlook the wave of political instability around the world when designing support programmes and the requirements expected of local grantees/partners.

Respondents mentioned that making use of a trustworthy and safe platform to help manage the grants would also ease the challenges linked to their restricted environments and contexts.


4. It’s not all about passing the money. Here’s to good practices too!

While there is still much to improve, it’s heartening to see many donors and allies embracing good funding practices, challenging power dynamics and being interested in shifting power and resources to grassroots groups. Survey respondents shared good practices they’ve seen in some donors, which are helping build trust and stronger relationships, encourage transparency and ensure that communities are better resourced.


5. This is how you could be a better donor and ally!

Respondents were asked to advise on how to make funding more accessible to smaller, informal grassroots groups. They also shared views of an ideal world where grassroots groups could access the funding and resources they need. Their answers are pragmatic, realistic, doable… Please, take note!

An ideal world where grassroots groups would feel deeply supported would have:

Flexible, predictable and transformative funding

For grassroots organisations, receiving funds can be a transformative experience that allows them to shift the realities of their communities. The survey showed that they would appreciate donors and allies making a conscious effort to understand their realities and challenges and provide adapted funding that is flexible, multi-year and supports core activities and needs (not only projects).

This includes creating tailored opportunities and evaluation approaches for groups of different sizes, investing in collaborative, partnership-building strategies, and transforming calls for proposals into an accessible, inclusive and participatory learning exercise. It also means building spaces for honest exchange between donors, allies and grassroots groups which allows for feedback and meaningful participation to inform grant strategies.

Proactive allies who think and work outside the box

Respondents encourage donors and allies to be more proactive in reaching out to grassroots communities, emerging activists and social leaders. One respondent said that donors and allies should “learn to see us too,” instead of the communities always having to chase donors and allies with proposals and requests. They also advise reaching out to new and less traditional organisations, new geographies, different regions, including rural areas, small cities, peri-urban and less privileged spaces.

Simple and transparent grant application and reporting processes

Grassroots groups do not expect to receive resources without any requirements. They envision more inclusive donors that understand their unique realities and challenges and are willing to remove excessive, difficult and confusing requirements in favour of more transparent and accessible grant application and management processes.

For small groups and organisations with limited capacity, heavily bureaucratic processes might completely exclude them from funding opportunities, always add an extra burden on their teams and reduce the time they can spend doing transformative work in the field. Also, by creating more accessible grant processes, donors and allies can foster a more equitable distribution of resources and begin to address systemic barriers that prevent historically oppressed communities from accessing the funding they need to effect change.

Donors and allies who are willing to trust them and take risks

While grassroots organisations take risks on a daily basis, most donors tend to be risk averse. This is part of the reason why many prefer working with established and well-known organisations, limiting support opportunities for new groups, movements and emerging forms of civic action.

Grassroots groups and actors want donors and allies to trust them and invest in building their expertise, agency and power. This includes funding youth-led groups that haven’t yet established a long track record of work and organisations without audited reports, certificates and so on. As one respondent said, “Not having all that paperwork does not mean that we are not credible people.”

Donors who sit, talk and walk with grassroots organisations

Relationships between grassroots activists and donors aren’t as transformative as we would like. They remain transactional, linear and focused on productivity and outcomes. Donors must move beyond Western conceptions of “impact” that have time constraints and efficiency at their core and focus instead on the positive changes, reparations and healing achieved in the communities through real collaboration.

This collaboration implies close partnerships and trust-based relationships between donors, enablers and local activists and people. It also includes deep mutual understanding, honest and open communication and genuine interest from donors and allies in the growth, strengthening and overall wellbeing of the funded groups and communities.

“It’s not only about achieving results or not. As the community says, it’s about the learning gained to achieve those results”.



3 key considerations for transforming resourcing relationships

3 key considerations for transforming resourcing relationships

During our recent virtual panel ‘Resourcing grassroots activism: Why relationships matter,’ we had a rich discussion around why building a more relational culture between grassroots activists, donors, and enablers is key to nurturing and sustaining locally driven change. The panelists included the member of the Grassroots Changemakers team, Dahlia, Nawa, Naro, Sam, and Tina; Saranel Benjamin, Head of Partnerships, Oxfam GB, and Otto Saki, Global Program Officer at Ford Foundation.  They explored what is failing and what is needed to achieve true partnership and solidarity with grassroots groups and movements. 

Check out the three main takeaways from this conversation:  

1.  What relationships? Activists, donors, and enablers are mostly connected by transactional interactions. 

“There is not anything that we can call a relationship. There are just people who collaborate on activities. That is basically the ‘relationship’ between donors and activists. Beyond the projects, there is nothing attached to those relationships.” Nawa Villy Sitali, Youth4Parliament. 

    • The general perception is that donors are seen just as institutions that have and give resources, while grassroots groups are just those who receive the money and implement projects.  
    • Most of the support and resources provided right now to advance social change are mostly focused on short-term deliverables. This current dynamic does not allow for the care and time necessary to cultivate trust and relationships that truly support grassroots activists and communities.  
    • More intentions and efforts are needed both from the donor/enablers side and the activists’ side to connect beyond projects and build shared visions for change. 


2.  Building authentic relationships requires humanising each other, the processes, and the conversation around resourcing grassroots activism. 

“We need to humanise these conversations. Once we humanise the conversations and each other, we can move towards transforming the relations.” Otto Saki, Ford Foundation 

    • We have forgotten to see and consider the humans behind the causes, institutions, movements, and projects. Activists feel treated as another resource or tool of the development industrial complex and do not know or understand the people working in funding and enabling institutions.  
    • Activists feel particularly dehumanised in this transactional funding system. It seems like donors care more about what they decide is “impact” than about the stories, visions, wellbeing and needs of activists and their communities. 
    • There is an urgent need for platforms and spaces where grassroots activists, donors, and enablers can connect at a more intimate level and have honest conversations. 


3.   Decolonising the international aid and development systems is vital for this transformation. 

“The idea of creating equal partnerships or even equitable partnerships cannot be done unless there is a reckoning with the legacy of international aid and development and recognising and naming that this is very much rooted in a colonial legacy.” Saranel Benjamin, Oxfam GB. 

    • The international aid and development systems are replicating and enabling the continuation of colonialism in the present. Funding and enabling organisations have created an infrastructure and bureaucratic processes that allow them to retain power and control over the people, communities, and organisations receiving aid. 
    • This colonial legacy manifests itself in the relationship with grassroots groups in several ways:  
        • Donors burden activists with excessive compliance requirements to receive funding. 
        • Grassroots organisations must compete under unfair conditions against international NGOs for funding. 
        • Foreign agendas, solutions, and experts are imposed on local communities disregarding their own solutions and expertise. Grassroots activists feel like “invisible experts.”  
        • Donors do not embrace and share risk and failure. They punish grassroots groups and communities for “failing to achieve results.” 
    • Unfortunately, most people in donor and enabling organisations are speaking about “shifting power” to grassroots groups and communities lightly, without challenging their own power, privileges, and biases on race, caste, class, gender, misogyny, and ableism. 


More voices from the webinar 

The panelists and other assistants raised their voices about other issues that deteriorate the interactions between grassroots activists, donors, and enablers:  

Activism is not a hobby; it is a job! 

“Many donors do not see what we [activists] do as a job… They see what we do as altruism, a hobby, or something we do just because we have a good heart when it is really a job. I spend 8 to 12 hours a day, I work holidays… It is a job like any other. It is a problem that they see what we activists do just as a social contribution and that there is no real work behind it that should be dignified and paid. This replicates the vertical dynamics of charity.” Dahlia de la Cerda, Morras Help Morras.  

The stigma around activism blocks resources and support

“In the Philippines, there is strong stigmatisation of the word activist… Some would say they are advocates but not activists and that differentiation is enough to not receive any grants at all. If you are an advocate, you have more privileges in terms of receiving aid, support, and resources. All the activists I know that identify themselves as activists have never received a single grant instead, they would rather be autonomous and self-finance, for example with [selling] crafts or using money from their own pockets… There is a sense that it is very scary for enablers and donors to support activist organisations because they also would be experiencing the same stigma coming, for example, from the government…” Naro Alonzo, KERI: Caring for Activists.  

Donors: Local activists and communities have expertise and dignity! 

“Recently, one donor tried to choose the solutions for my community. They said that because they have the money and international experts, they know better than us, grassroots movements, what is best for our communities. These international experts never put their feet in Madagascar, not even once! I said no to US$10,000 [grant] because it is better to respect the dignity of my community. We should be considered. We have values. We are not beggars.” Marie Christina Kolo, Indian Ocean Climate Network.

“Most of the work [for social change] is done by grassroots movements and activists because they themselves sit at the center of the communities where projects need to be implemented. They know exactly what challenges their communities are facing, so they are better able to decide the best practices and activities for their particular issues, but they are left out [of funding opportunities] because they don’t meet a particular [donor] criteria.” Samuel Sebit, Talent Initiative for Development.

Improve other donor practices 

“Our best experiences with donors are those where we have constant communication and flexibility to shift the projects along the ways and find new ways to do things together. The worst is having seed funding that comes out of nowhere, you never have contact with the donor and after a year we just send a report.” Anna Ferreira, Proyecto Base. 

“Why aren’t donors highlighting the good work of activists? They are quick to highlight the bad and this increases the existing mistrust.” Sola Fagorusi, Onelife Initiative.  


Watch the webinar recording  


See the Revolution in Action: Global Gallery

See the Revolution in Action: Global Gallery

People around the world are already engaging in the Grassroots Solidarity Revolution! Several groups of grassroots activists are hosting one or more local dialogues and Jam Sessions in all the countries listed on this map.

What are these events about?

      • The Jam Sessions are vibrant virtual meetings hosted as part of this campaign, which are designed by and for activists to build relationships, promote collective healing and co-create grassroots-led visions around resourcing and organising.
      • The local solidarity dialogues are spaces where grassroots activists, donors and allies cultivate meaningful relationships and build trust and mutual understanding. For now, these dialogues are hosted by the five members of Grassroots Changemakers team who helped co-design this campaign.

Are you implementing initiatives to connect grassroots activists, donors and allies in solidarity? We would like to share your story and include your efforts on our map! Contact us at grassrootscampaign@civicus.org 


Check out what’s happening in different countries


Dahlia de la Cerda hosted a local dialogue with 14 feminist activists and organisations in Mexico to discuss three main questions: what are the difficulties they face in obtaining a grant?; what are barriers to achieving sustainability after receiving a grant?; and how can donors make resources more accessible to grassroots activists? Read the results of their conversations here and in the video below: Community dialogues in Mexico.

“Donors set requirements that are often impossible for small grassroots groups to meet, such as being legally constituted, having a bank account, and having previous grants of enormous amounts of money.”

South Sudan

Samuel Sabit convened a local dialogue with 20 grassroots activists representing different grassroots organisations, both formal and informal, operating in Yei River County, a place located along South Sudan’s southern border and significantly affected by conflict and displacement. Learn more about it in this blog and the video below.

“Donors demand audited financial reports but don’t even allocate money for audits, some of them do but most of them don’t. Organisations that cannot do these audits are not supported. They are not even given the freedom to be flexible in using the resources.”

The Philippines

Naro Alonzo and the organisation Keri: Caring for Activists also held several dialogues with local activists around the country as part of the Grassroots Solidarity Revolution to discuss their activism realities, resourcing challenges, and how to improve relationships with donors and enabling organisations. To share the highlights from these conversations, they produce two videos:

  1. ‘One day in the lives of Filipino activists,’ which weaves the voices of activists who participated in the dialogues to describe what it is like being an activist in this country.

2. Resourcing the well-being of activists: this video highlights the need for caring more about the mental and emotional health of grassroots activists and calls on donors to prioritize investing in the well-being of activists.

As a result of the community dialogues, Keri identified a need for training among fellow creative activists. To support them, the organisation and its learning partner Studio Hibang put together a set of private training sessions, both live and asynchronous. These cover topics such as mental wellbeing for creative activists, project management for creatives, semiotics, protest art and design, media ethics, digital security and copywriting.


Nawa Villy and his activist colleagues in Zambia hosted a series of conversations around their resourcing realities and what donor and funding practices should change to really nurture grassroots activism in their country. Check out their visions and recommendations for donors in the video below and in this summary: Local dialogue with grassroots activists in Zambia.

“The funding landscape currently does not speak to our needs and does not respond to our areas of operation, especially to the ways we – activists, social movements and community organisations – do our work.”

They also hosted a second dialogue between activists and donors which was a great opportunity to share the need for transforming their relationships as a first step to finding better ways to resource grassroots activism.


21st century citizen action: co-creating to improve resourcing relationships

21st century citizen action: co-creating to improve resourcing relationships

By Dumiso Gatsha

The first time I read about Christina, Dahlia, Naro, Nawa and Samuel, I was excited. From a pool of over 2000 activists dedicated to making the world a better place, this diverse, passionate and intentional selection of activists are co-creating a campaign to rethink resourcing for civil society.

The Grassroots Changemakers group reflected the many peers I encountered on social media, the margins of advocacy mechanisms or amidst variant forms of civic action. The energy of meeting people who sacrifice and navigate a world that consistently denies us equal participation, opportunity or dignity is unparalleled. In this collaborative space, there is no need to over-explain or clarify what is already known. This  space recognises and affirms your story, without questioning whether you belong or can be vulnerable.

These sentiments were confirmed by the check-ins we have; to take stock of the changemaker group’s progress in the project. Discussing mental health, well-being and healing made me realised that serving a community, and possibly your childhood self, takes shape in different ways. Also, that when in service of others, burnout, exhaustion and de-prioritising oneself can be normalised. My initial observations for de-centering oneself in grassroots activism is because of the conditions in which one is born; normally challenging, of historical disadvantage and never having enough to meaningfully participate in education, economic, social and other spheres of development. I now see how this emanates from the care work and opportunity costs that activists have to endure without resourcing or recognition.

Relationships as key determinants of resourcing

The kinds of relationships grassroots activists have with funders are central to the recognition and resourcing of activism. How trust, care and intention manifest or not is key to understanding the nuances of relationships. The campaign’s hypothesis reflects this: if grassroots activists’ relations with donors are enabled without prescription or limit, they may achieve the highest possible change at individual and collective levels. It underpins an understanding of the importance of a space to co-create a campaign for improving funding practices and relationships for grassroots actors. Similar initiatives have already been a success under CIVICUS: holding space for dialogues, linking activists to other spaces and recommending co-creative models for resourcing them.

The campaign advocates for and explores improving the quality of relationships as a precondition for reimagining an equitable resourcing environment for grassroots activists. The journey so far acknowledges the role in which power dynamics play out in activist-funder relationships. We have learned how power plays out in language, access to, and grant processes that activists have to assimilate to and navigate. The further away from understanding the concepts and framing of normative INGO terminology; the less opportunities, trust and exposure to equitable resourcing practices.

Ideating equitable resourcing for grassroots activists

Power often comes with the privilege of options. For instance, funders can have a range of tools at their disposal to ensure participation. Whether this is equitable depends on whether those most left behind are included. Some activists spoke at length about how language is a barrier to participating in resourcing opportunities or during the initial co-creative stages of our campaign. It reflects how something as simple as language can disempower one from equitable participation. The same can be applied to internet access/bandwidth, eligibility for funding and other structural determinants such as vaccine inequity and colonial legacy. These all impact how one can grasp concepts and align the needs they want to address through resourcing opportunities.

Establishing spaces for conversation, connecting and challenging different aspects across the landscape of civil society and development value chains is critical. Focusing on grassroots activists not only allows for trauma-informed programming, messaging or resourcing; but also addresses the invisible impediments and blind spots of power in enablement. This campaign provides a platform to test what autonomy and agency look like within the context of co-creation and activism in the 21st century. It provides critical learnings that can be intentional or not – and cut across various aspects of enabling and resourcing activists.

A notable takeaway from the initial stages of the campaign

In the journey so far, the co-creative initial stages of the campaign revealed how activists are built to serve as a result of resilience or their contexts. They consistently have to understand or adapt to the actions of others, both those that depend on them, and/or even those who oppress them. The same applies in activist-funder relationships; where they do the groundwork, manage expectations and navigate triggers of harm within systems of society, civil society and development. Activists never prioritise themselves because of having to do the difficult work of having to be cautious whilst challenging structural powers where possible. More importantly, this can be just as evident in safe spaces; adding layers of complexity to navigating institutionalisation and advocacy. This campaign reaffirms the need to better understand grassroots activists who are at the center of the change ecosystem. Their expertise, insight and invaluable experiences will inform lessons learned and the true meaning of strengthening citizen action in the 21st century [amidst and beyond COVID-19].


Dumiso Gatsha is a CIVICUS member, inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Group for Networking and Action advisory group member, former Goalkeeper Youth Action Accelerator participant and Pan-African queer feminist activist working in the nexus of human rights and sustainable development. 

In this blog, Dumi shares initial thoughts related to the Grassroots Solidarity Revolution campaign co-created with a team of inspiring activists.  Dumi is collaborating with CIVICUS as a “critical friend,” supporting the various teams and other key actors in reflecting, capturing and sharing learnings as we go. Given the highly experimental nature of this initiative, having a critical friend is key to enable meaningful reflections and document learnings. Having a grassroots activist playing this role helps make sure the learning framework and data collection align with and are informed by what makes sense for grassroots activists.  Dumi’s story and varied experiences in the thematics of this campaign and observations are already proving to be a precious resource. This blog is the first of a series of reflections that Dumi and the team will share in the future. Watch this space!