Integrated Advocacy: Paths Forward for Digital Civil Society

How does civil society become digital civil society? Why does it matter?

This report investigates how digital public policy implicates civil society in democracies and how to strengthen, expand and diversify the practical connections between civil society support organizations and digital policy experts. It covers both the current landscape and the possibilities for building broad civil society coalitions to address digital policy issues. The research team of Lucy Bernholz, Nicole Ozer, Kip Wainscott, and Wren Elhai conducted this work over calendar year 2019, which included interviews, convenings, and desk research.

Below, you will find download links for both the full report and worksheets for the activities conducted in the research.

From the Executive Summary:

Around the world, civil society is being thrust into the digital world. Technology systems are now entwined in every aspect of our individual and collective lives. People rely on the internet, mobile devices, and social networking platforms to connect and communicate, and civil society organizations must now grapple and engage with many issues that had been considered the more specific domain of a small subset of digital rights organizations in earlier decades. Digital policy issues— including information privacy, net neutrality, government surveillance, and the regulation of artificial intelligence—now affect the core missions of nonprofits and associations working in areas as divergent as education, the environment, criminal justice, health, community development, justice, and the arts. To effectively continue to protect and promote well-being, rights, and opportunities, civil society must become digital civil society—a sector with the confidence and resources to address how technology shapes core mission issues.

The research for this report was supported by funding from The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.