Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are mojor players in international development – as providers of humanitarian relief, innovators in service delivery and advocates with and for the poor. Their role is changing fast. There is increasing pull from governments for civil society to participate in policy processes, and CSOs themselves have been pushing for greater policy influence playing as they have realised that policy advocacy can deliver additional benefits over direct service delivery.
But there is little systematic understanding of how CSOs can best use evidence to influence policy. While some CSOs use research, there is concern that others ignore or abuse evidence in their policy engagement. Others are simply unaware of the importance of using evidence well.
This report assesses (i) does evidence matter to CSO work?; (ii) if so when, why and how,? and (iii) can use of evidence improve the legitimacy and effectiveness of CSOs? The report draws on a wide range of research at ODI over the last two years, and a systematic on-line survey of CSOs.