What is Civil Society?
Definition of a CSO
The concepts of ‘civil society’ and ‘civil society organisation’ are still debated but we use these terms as they are most widely understood internationally. Other common terms are; nonprofit organisation, charity, NGO, third sector, voluntary sector and so on.
The Centre for Civil Society at John Hopkins University defines a civil society organisation as:
“Any organisation whether formal or informal, that are not part of the apparatus of government, that do not distribute profits to their directors or operators, that are self-governing, and in which participation is a matter of free choice. Both member-serving and public-serving organisations are included. Embraced within this definition, therefore, are private, not-for-profit health providers, schools, advocacy groups, social service agencies, anti-poverty groups, development agencies, professional associations, community-based organisations, unions, religious bodies, recreation organisations, cultural institutions and many more.” Statement of the Sixteenth Annual Johns Hopkins International Fellows in Philanthropy Conference Nairobi, Kenya
Sub sections for this page:
What is Civil Society? : GSI Resources : Assembly