The World Bank Group has been working to strengthen its engagement with civil society since 1981, when its first operational policy note on relations with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) was approved by the World Bank’s Board of Directors.

The World Bank Group has adopted the following definition of civil society developed by a number of leading research centers: “the term civil society to refer to the wide array of non-governmental and not for profit organizations that have a presence in public life, express the interests and values of their members and others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations.” The Civil Society sector—composed of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith-based groups, trade unions, indigenous people’s organizations, community groups, and foundations, among others—has emerged as a major force in international development in the past 30 years. There has been a dramatic expansion in the size, role, and visibility of civil society which has come in the wake of recent democratic governance movements worldwide such as the Arab Spring.

WBG’s Interaction with Civil Society

The Bank interacts with hundreds of CSOs every day throughout the world, engaging with them through: information sharing, policy dialogue, strategy consultation, operational collaboration, and institutional partnerships. There are over 120 communications professionals in the Bank’s Washington, DC Headquarters, and in over 100 country offices, that act as Civil Society Focal Points responsible for engaging CSOs from the local to the global levels. There is also the Global Civil Society Team located in the Bank’s External and Corporate Relations Department that coordinates on a daily basis the overall World Bank Group’s engagement and relationship management with Civil Society Organizations. The scope and intensity of this engagement necessarily varies depending on the nature of the development area and institutional context of each country.  Some examples of engagement are below.

  • Policy Dialogue and Consultations
    There has been a significant growth in the number of CSO representatives attending the Annual and Spring World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund meetings, from less than 100 ten years ago to over 600 at the 2013 Annual Meetings. They participate in the Civil Society Policy Forum which includes a CSO Roundtable with Executive Directors, CSO Townhall with Dr. Kim, and a Civil Society Forum with over 40 policy dialogue sessions mostly organized by CSOs.
  • Operational Collaboration and Institutional Partnerships
    The Bank has steadily increased its operational collaboration with civil society organizations by involving them in Bank funded projects and funding their development initiatives. The project development of CSOs in Bank financed projects has increased from 21% in 1990 to 88% in FY 2015.

For additional information, you can contact the Global Civil Society team.


World Bank Civil Society Team
Tel: +1 (202) 473-1840

Last Updated: May 06, 2016


There are a wide variety of grant funding sources for CSOs who work worldwide. This section provides links to World Bank Group funding for CSOs.

The largest funding mechanism the Bank has for CSOs is the Global Partnership for Social Accountability which was established in 2012 with the purpose of bridging the accountability gap between citizens and governments. The GPSA is based on constructive engagement between governments and civil society in order to create an enabling environment in which citizen feedback is used to solve fundamental problems in service delivery and to strengthen the performance of public institutions. Learn more about funding opportunities through GPSA.

The Bank also funds CSOs indirectly through governments via mechanisms such Community Driven Development (CDD) projects.  These support a variety of local development activities such as rural development, community health, water delivery, HIV/AIDS prevention, and small enterprise development.  The Bank estimates that some 5% of the Bank's annual portfolio, or $1 billion dollars, is channeled to these country-based funds.

In addition, in the execution of World Bank projects, several CSOs have successfully bid and been awarded contracts to execute components of World Bank projects in support of the development objectives of our client countries. The World Bank also manages several cross-sectoral programmatic trust funds, including the Policy and Human Resource Development (PHRD), the Japan Social Development Funds (JSDF), the Avian and Human Influenza Facility (AHI), and the Bank-Netherlands Partnership Program (BNPP) through the Trust Funds and Partnerships Department (DFPTF). The World Bank acts as a trustee of these financial intermediary funds (FIF) and transfers them to the relevant development executors, including CSOs, when instructed by the FIF governing body.

While  most of these funding mechanisms are managed out of World Bank's Headquarters, some  are also administered at many of the Bank's country offices.  Many of these mechanisms are also funded in partnership with other government donor agencies, such as the UN and bilateral agencies (e.g. UNPD, DFID, CIDA). Learn more about the Trust Funds here. Some of these funding mechanisms only support CSOs, but other fund proposals submitted by government agencies and businesses.

The Bank also provides grants to local nonprofits who provide charitable and social services in the Washington metropolitan area, or to international NGOs who support community development efforts, human rights, and environmental protection worldwide through its Community Outreach Program.

See below for additional links to information for funding resources for CSOs.

Last Updated: May 06, 2016

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Last Updated: May 06, 2016