BIG CONVERSATION THU 15 OCT: Can NGOs and social movements be authentic allies?

Can NGOs and social movements be authentic allies?


About this session

Campaigning organisations are moving beyond the question of ‘if’ they should engage with movements to asking ‘when’ and ‘how’ – reflecting an understanding of systems change as complex, nonlinear and unpredictable in which NGOs can have little impact on their own. However, these institutions have a completely different DNA to movements, with heavy layers of decision-making to manage risk, protect a brand, and ensure consistency across staff and offices.

If this weren’t enough to stifle timely, creative collaboration toward shared goals, many NGO staff rightly have an overwhelming fear of causing harm to movements by acting in ways that are (or appear to be) self-serving or co-opting. They also fear causing harm to their own organisation through legal risks or supporter attrition. That said, inaction during a ‘movement moment’ also risks an organisation’s relevance and impact.

We’ll hear the perspectives of life-long activists and NGO senior leaders, as well as those with a foot in both camps, as we aim to explore whether it is truly possible for NGOs and social movements to work together as allies, while both remaining loyal to their cause, true to their supporters and achieving their stated goals.

Join this lively discussion with a fantastic panel featuring Michael Silberman, Global Director of Mobilisation Lab, Madhuresh Kumar, Convenor at National Alliance of People’s Movements India, Carys Afoko, Co-Founder of Level-Up, Kirsty McNeil, Executive Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children UK, and Masana Ndinga-Kanga, Crisis Response Fund Lead at CIVICUS.






Michael Silberman (USA)
Global Director, Mobilisation Lab
Madhuresh Kumar (India)
National Convener, National Alliance of People's Movements
Carys Afoko (UK)
Co-Founder, Level-Up
Masana Ndinga-Kanga (South Africa)
Crisis Response Fund Lead, CIVICUS
Kirsty McNeill (UK)
Executive Director for Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Save The Children