Philippine CSO Sustainability Further Declines in 2020

The CSO Sustainability Index shows that the overall sustainability of the Philippine sector of civil society organizations (CSOs) has further declined in 2020 indicating the sector’s sustainability remains “evolving.” The Philippines’ rating at 3.7 is a moderate decline from 3.5 in 2019, but it has continued to dip since 2014 (3.3) when the research was first conducted in the country.

The study looked at seven (7) dimensions to determine the sustainability of the civil society sector – 1) legal environment, 2) organizational capacity, 3) financial viability, 4) advocacy, 5) service provision, 6) sectoral Infrastructure and 7) public image. In 2020, there were negative developments in all dimensions except public image.


The research was conducted through an online survey and deep-dive discussion with a panel of Philippine CSO experts using a rating scale of 1-3 for ‘Sustainability Enhanced’, 3.1 to 5 for ‘Sustainability Evolving’ and 5.1 to 7 for ‘Sustainability Impeded.’ 


The decline was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and its negative effects on the Philippine economy  and the overall financial sustainability of CSOs. The report also identified increased state harassment which contributed to the most significant declines in the areas of legal environment and advocacy. However, CSOs were able to provide relief in times of crisis which gave them increased visibility at the local level, which moderately improved the sector’s public image in 2020.


The CSO Sustainability Index was developed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and reports on the strength and overall viability of CSO sectors in more than 70 countries. The 2020 report for the Philippines was released in September 2021, with the  Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) as local partner since 2014.


You can view the full report here.