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"Global Exchange - Strengthening Umbrella Networks" Final Project Evaluation


CIVICUS exists to defend people power. As a growing global alliance of over 10 000 members in 175 countries, we work together to monitor violations of basic civic freedoms, call out perpetrators of violations and strengthen the power of people to organize by supporting a more accountable, effective and innovative civil society. CIVICUS strives to promote excluded voices, especially from the Global South.

The Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) is a critical sub-set of CIVICUS’ membership, bringing together national associations and regional platforms across the world to foster greater cooperation across national and regional boundaries. AGNA is a key constituency within CIVICUS’ larger membership, piloting new methodologies and approaches to partnership-building and improving the enabling environment for civil society. AGNA works to strengthen its members’ ability to amplify the voices of their constituencies and responds to the needs of the network through peer learning and capacity development initiatives.

In 2016 CIVICUS was awarded an action grant from the European Commission, entitled ‘Global Exchange: Strengthening Umbrella Networks’, aimed at strengthening CIVICUS members and the CIVICUS network across the globe. The action grant is now coming to an end, and CIVICUS is seeing a consultant or group of consultants to conduct the final evaluation of the project.

Background and context

National Associations (NAs) and networks of civil society organisations (CSOs) in countries around the world provide and give collective voice for civil society in their countries and regions. They are created to serve as key interlocutors with government and business, and help promote a strong enabling environment for CSOs, for democracy, for the rights of citizen action and participation.

The action grant received from the EC works to strengthen national associations and civil society organisations through mutually reinforcing and intersecting activities, including

  1. Promoting network engagement and collaboration between national, regional and global levels: this activity works to create better connections among civil society at multiple levels, and addresses a specific request from our AGNA network for additional sharing and learning opportunities with other national associations
  2. Identifying capacity needs and enhancing capacity development opportunities for regional and national CSO networks: supports priority capacity development and training needs of the network
  3. Generating knowledge on the state of civil society around the world, supporting the need for research on the civil society sector as a whole, and providing a knowledge base for evidence-based advocacy
  4. Joint policy advocacy at national, regional and global levels: this supports the call to build alliances that can carry out solidarity campaigns and joint advocacy initiatives, creating better linkages between national-level civil society representatives and regional and global processes.

The intervention logic of the action grant is premised on the idea that when the capacity of national associations, regional organisations and the CIVICUS network is strengthened, it enables civil society as a whole to become more effective at working to solve the challenges facing humanity. This is increasingly relevant as the world faces the continued fallout from the covid-19 pandemic.

The specific expected results of the project are: i) improved collaboration and engagement across the CIVICUS membership base, ii) increased capacity development within the CIVICUS and AGNA networks, iii) access to knowledge, analysis and global narratives on civil society to better respond to local, national and regional challenges and iv) influence over institutions and processes and engagement on relevant issues at local, national, regional and international levels.

The action grant is financed from the general budget of the European Union under the Annual Action Programmes for the 2014 and 2015 ‘Civil Society Organisations and Local authorities’ Lot 1: proposals of global umbrella organisations of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In addition, the action grant was awarded in accordance with terms of the Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA), which marks a set of common interests and objectives of a strategic partnership between the European Commission and CIVICUS.

Evaluation purpose and target audience

The overall purpose of this evaluation is to evaluate the extent to which the action grant has achieved its expected results and the effectiveness of the intervention logic employed. This is a valuable and critical opportunity to engage in in-depth reflection on the strategy and assumption guiding the project. The evaluation will assess the progress made towards the objectives of the action grant, and may recommend adjustments to the strategy employed for future initiatives.

This final evaluation builds on the mid-term ROM review of the project, which looked at progress on input provision, activities undertaken and results delivered (outputs and direct outcomes). The ROM review itself is not an evaluation, rather its aims were/are to assist EC services in monitoring of and reporting on EU funded development and cooperation programmes by mobilizing external consultants. The four criteria that are examined during the ROM Review missions are: Relevance, Efficiency, Effectiveness and Sustainability. The EC funded project objectives stand at the core of CIVICUS’ mission to strengthen citizen action and civil participation, and can therefore draw on a number of other core and programmatic evaluations conducted throughout the course of the Global Exchange programme.

The target audience for this review are the stakeholders in this project, including the European Commission, the CIVICUS Secretariat, and the CIVICUS Alliance of members and partners, for which this will serve as a critical accountability mechanism. It will speak to the effectiveness and efficiency of the grant, as well as the mutual objectives set out in the Framework Partnership Agreement between the EC and CIVICUS. The evaluation will discuss CIVICUS’ over 10 000 members in more than 175 countries.

Evaluation objective and scope

The objectives of the evaluation are to

  1. Assess the performance of CIVICUS’ work along the following dimensions: relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability.
  2. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the project interventions and produce findings, lessons and recommendations to guide and inform future work.
  3. Highlight stories of most significant change in the context of the action grant.
  4. Practice dynamic accountability, with this evaluation serving as an opportunity to have meaningful engagement with multiple stakeholders.


The evaluation will cover the 5 years period of the ‘Global Exchange: Strengthening Umbrella Networks’ project funded by the European Commission. The grant was initially 4 years; a year extension was granted to address the challenges that arose from the covid 19 pandemic.

The evaluation will be guided by internationally agreed evaluation criteria, namely: relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability.

Evaluation Principles

The Evaluation Principles that underlie this evaluation are:

  1. a) Usefulness: The information needs to be relevant, timely, and written in an understandable form. It also needs to address the questions asked, and be presented in a form desired and best understood by the key stakeholders who shall use it to design or improve intervention.
  2. b) Impartiality and teamwork: The information should be free of political or other bias and deliberate distortions. The information should be presented with a clear and balanced description of its strengths and weaknesses.
  3. c) Cost-effectiveness: The evaluation will be managed as effectively as possible to maximise the benefits while minimising use of scarce resources and unnecessary time demands on stakeholders.
  4. d) Accuracy: The data and information will be accurate and reliable and reflect input from a variety of stakeholders. The information needs to meet relevant technical standards, appropriate design, correct sampling procedures, accurate working of questionnaires and interview guides, appropriate statistical or content analysis, and adequate support for conclusions and recommendations, to name but a few.
  5. e) Credibility: The process will be systematic, transparent and inclusive to ensure that those affected by the programmes are able to voice their expectations, experience, learning points and insights; the evaluators will have the skill and experience necessary to manage the process with support from CIVICUS.

Evaluation questions and tasks

Key questions

The evaluations will ask the following key questions:

  • To what extent were the planned activities and objectives achieved, and what were the factors that contributed to the achievement or non-achievement? What worked well and what didn’t work well, and why?
  • What has been the impact (positive, negative, intended, unintended) of the action grant?
  • What significant changes have occurred that could direct or indirectly be linked to the activities in the action grant?
  • Factors affecting the implementation and achievement of the expected results. This includes external factors, project design (relevance and quality), institutional and implementation environment and project management.
  • What is the sustainability of the results achieved beyond the end of the programme?
  • How has working with major civil society networks enabled these networks to provide capacity development to their own members?
  • To what extent were programmatic activities designed and implemented in a participatory and empowering manner?
  • How has CIVICUS been accountable to its members and other key stakeholders throughout this action grant?
  • To what extent has the grant contributed to helping the CIVICUS Alliance in promoting an enabling environment for civil society?
  • How has financial support to third parties contributed to strengthening the capacity of CIVICUS members, and what were the advantages and obstacles and how could this be improved?

Cross cutting questions

  • How has the project taken Diversity & Inclusion considerations into account, strengthening the voices of the most excluded, and reducing the obstacles women and marginalised groups face in fully participating in civil society?
  • How has gender and diversity been mainstreamed throughout the project activities, and integrated into the work of CIVICUS and our members?
  • How has this project epitomised the values of legitimacy, accountability, and transparency?
  • Considering the outcomes achieved in this programme, what learnings/inferences can we draw re: the future role of these types of umbrella organisations in the CIVICUS alliance and wider civil society sector?
  • How has the programme reflected the CIVICUS strategic approach more generally, e.g. building solidarity among civil society across borders and at scale, promoting, modelling and disseminating civil society best practice?
  • How has the programme internalised CIVICUS values and principles more generally?

Approach and methodology

The evaluator(s) will be expected to utilise various evaluation techniques and research methods which may include document review, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, most significant change stories and observations, among others. The evaluator(s) will be expected to analyse existing data and collect and interpret new data where there are gaps. It is expected that analysis and interpretation shall be made according to the key issues of the evaluation. To overcome the risk of the often-positive bias of internal monitoring information, triangulation of sources and methods is highly encouraged.

Timing and deliverables

The consultancy will run for 25-30 effective days, commencing in the middle of July, and ending mid-late September with the submission of the final report. The tentative work plan, which will be agreed upon between the evaluator and CIVICUS, is outlined below.

Activities under the consultant(s) responsibility

Number of days

Inception and briefing


Review of documents and reports


Development and revision of detailed evaluation plan and tools


Evaluation phase- interviews, focus groups etc


Data analysis and report writing


Submission of draft report and report presentation meeting


Revision and submission of final report; presentation to EC





  1. Detailed Evaluation framework and plan, endorsed by CIVICUS
  2. Development and finalisation of data collection tools, framework and methodology
  3. Draft Report
  4. Presentation of draft report to CIVICUS project team
  5. Finalised report based on consolidated feedback
  6. Presentation of final report to the project’s main donor, the European Commission

Evaluation team composition and required competencies

The evaluation is open to a consultant or group of consultants. CIVICUS strongly encourages applicants from the global south, with diverse and inclusive profiles.

Competencies and qualifications:

  • At least 6 years’ experience working in civil society in the global south
  • Experience working with networks, with a strong understanding of networking principles and civil society issues and trends
  • Demonstrated experience in undertaking multi-country evaluations and/or impact assessments of civil society projects or programmes
  • Proven skills in qualitative data collection and analysis involving a broad spectrum of stakeholders
  • Understanding of capacity development, advocacy, peer-learning and communications in civil society organisations and networks
  • Experience working in multicultural environments
  • Strong and effective communication, interpersonal and project management skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English
  • Additional language proficiency in French and Spanish is desirable. If these are not present please included translation costs in the budget proposal
  • Commitment to CIVICUS’ Vision and Principles

Proposal submission and budget

Applicants are requested to include the following in their proposal submission:

Cover Letter & Technical proposal (max 5 pages)

  • Draft evaluation framework and plan, including proposed methodology and approach
  • Demonstrated understanding of civil society networks, including networks of networks, the associated trends challenges and opportunities, and the context in which they operate
  • Understanding of the Terms of Reference and what needs to be accomplished
  • Previous similar experience, especially related to impact reviews and evaluations of global-south based projects and/or organisations
  • Profile of the consultant(s) working on evaluation (you may annex the resumes of the consultants involved in the project, two pages maximum per resume)

Financial proposal (maximum 2 pages)

The financial proposal should include an itemized budget in US dollars or Euro, detailing the consultants daily rate and all other associated costs. A budget narrative should also be included. Due to the covid-19 pandemic restrictions this evaluation will be virtually based, and no travel will be supported.

Как подать заявку

Proposals should be sent via email to agna@civicus.org and submitted no later than 13 July 2021. Should you have any queries about this evaluation you are welcome to contact us at the same email address.

Terms and Conditions

Service Level Agreement: The consultancy will be governed by a milestone-based Service Level Agreement (SLA), aligned with the agreed work plan Prospective consultants/groups of consultants will kindly include a proposed budget in their proposal submission.

Tax: the consultant will be responsible for their income tax

Code of Conduct: CIVICUS’s work is based on deeply held values and principles, and it is essential that our commitment to these are supported and demonstrated by all members, staff and service providers, including consultants. The CIVICUS Code of Conduct sets out these standards, and the consultant(s) will be expected to adhere to these.

Additional terms and conditions of service will be found in the contract.