Our shared PACT: Power

Our shared PACT

Power: A great power shift

“The powerlessness of feeling guilty, ashamed or fearful. The power that emanates from trust, love and confidence… These overwhelming emotions… Power at times feels like a taboo subject.” Lankelly Chase

“I want the inquiry to challenge what those of us in power will give up so that power is shared” CEO of youth organisation

Across our country – and in civil society – too many people feel unheard, ignored, frustrated.  Imbalances in power are often at the heart of the issue: who gets listened to, who makes decisions, who is in control.

Change in society begins by changing ourselves in civil society, all of us.

We want everyone to have the chance to make the contribution that only they can.  We will consciously create a healthy, sustainable and more equal civil society.

We will address inequalities and conflict by seeking to understand power and oppression,recognising the power we have and supporting others to discover theirs.

We will practice shared and distributed models of decision-making and control,such as citizen juries, community ownership and participatory grant-making.

We will do whatever’s needed so all those who want to can play a full partin the things which matter to them – not least those who have been excluded – so they can bring their wisdom and expertise.


The future could include…

Diverse civil society leadership at every level, opened up to people of different genders, ages, ethnicities, attitudes, world views, politics, social class, faiths and more….  

Funding decided by the people it is there to support…  

Locally designed and delivered public services…

Those with direct experience of the issue valued as experts…  

A new culture and generation of leadership which understands power, prepared to share it and shift it…

Traditional organisational structures reimagined and re-energised…  

More organisations and networks embrace visionary radical change…  

Visible platforms for people to share their stories and build collective power

Explore 92 ways to put the PACT into practice »

Full worksheet: how to put the PACT into practice »


Stories of shifting power:

Hand raised silhouetted against a sky

92 ways to put the PACT into practice

17th December 2018

Did you see the Civil Society Futures PACT and wonder “what can I do now?” Here are some suggestions for things you could do or ask your organisation.

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The Food Journey

20th November 2018

At our final launch event, performers took people on a journey through their food history – exploring issues of power, accountability, connection and trust through different senses.

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London Queer Muslims

18th November 2018

As well as trying to build the power of queer Muslims in London, the group seeks to embody its ideals of inclusion in its own internal practices, developing and sharing power among their members – often based on ancient Islamic traditions.

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“We are here”: art to bring the PACT to life

18th November 2018

Artist Rebecca Strickson has created a response to the civil society PACT through four beautiful banners that bring it, and people’s voices, to life.

Step free route

How we’re building a greater scope for greater impact

16th November 2018

Earlier this year, leading disability charity Scope announced a radical new strategy that would mean enormous change for the organisation. Here the charity’s chief executive talks through the plans for this transformation: how they got here, where they’re going, how they’ll do it, and why it matters. 

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Changing our organisation… and shifting power

16th November 2018

Civil society funder Lankelly Chase is in “a continual process” of change, trying to be aware of power in their organisation and shift it down from Board level. How are they handling it?

Think people can’t have control over their neighbourhoods? Meet Community Land Trusts

14th November 2018

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) ensure local people can continue living in their communities and enable them to play a leading role in shaping the places they call home.

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Equal Care Co-op: using technology to redirect power in front-line social care

14th November 2018

The Equal Care Co-op is a new care and support co-operative starting in the Upper Calder Valley, aiming to give real voice and power to the people who give and receive support.

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Knife crime: do we have the power to cut it down?

10th November 2018

Local people came together to tackle rising levels of youth violence in Peckham – how did they do it? And what happened when young people themselves were excluded from the process?

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Saving a library… it’s all about community

8th November 2018

This library in Sunderland was slated for closure… till volunteers like this stepped in.

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Is the third sector sexist?

8th November 2018

Allegations of sexual misconduct at Oxfam, Save the Children and the Presidents Club have dominated headlines this year. Is civil society doing enough to address sexism in the workplace?

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From litter to better

1st November 2018

“Am I going to let the world go to rack and ruin or am I going to change things around me?” What is this residents association in Sunderland doing?

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Good tech? Fairer funding?

30th October 2018

From 3D printing wheelchairs to getting out of London to meet new people with ideas… how is a funder of social tech projects trying to shift power and create connection?

Unlocking funders’ treasure chests of data

30th October 2018

Is there a way to bring funding information together so that anyone could quickly see what’s being funded in a particular community or sector? In an ideal world, all grants data would be shared openly.

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The future doesn’t work unless it includes us all. How do we get there?

17th October 2018

Some organisations shy away from fully acknowledging their lack of diversity. They pay lip service but are reluctant to even publish data about their cultural make up for fear of being criticised.

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From murky to making it happen: getting local power in the North East

17th October 2018

How to get to the world as it should be?  That was the question we vowed to tackle as we kicked off the third of three Civil Society Futures workshops on local decision making in the North East.

Access and civic activism

30th August 2018

One of the common civic actions is to take part in events and discussions. How often is it incumbent for the disabled participant to ensure that his/her/their participation is possible?

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Do we reward disobedience?

6th August 2018

This award gives quarter of a million dollars, no strings attached, to people being extraordinarily disobedient for the benefit of society. What could we learn?

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(How) can funders really challenge power?

6th August 2018

Funding… too often tightly controlled by a cautious, privileged few? Edge Fund is a grant-making body with a difference.

What do we want?! Erm…

25th July 2018

One of the key principles within community organising is moving from problem to solution. Working out our asks is a fundamental step to negotiating and bringing about change.

Delivering justice in a Deliveroo world

18th July 2018

Our case is the biggest in employment law in a generation, fighting for basic rights like paid annual leave and the minimum wage.

The migrant-led activism stamping out racial hostility in the UK

20th June 2018

The Windrush scandal has pushed Britain’s harsh immigration policies into the limelight, forcing one ministerial resignation and an apology from the government. But people who have lived and worked hard in Britain for many years are still losing their jobs, homes, being denied NHS treatment – who are the people fighting for the rights of … Read more

Fairwork Foundation

11th June 2018

We are starting a ‘Fairwork Foundation’ to set minimum standards in the gig economy. Can we change the rules of the future?

What’s Pointless about Epsom? Reclaiming heritage for a contemporary sense of place

1st May 2018

If you’ve seen the TV game show Pointless, you’ll know that – like in civil society – common assumptions are often a veneer. The most illuminating way to understand a community is to seek out the Pointless answers…

Inspiration and assault: is the future of social media in our control?

13th March 2018

We all know by now that social media’s impact on our lives can be pervasive and all-encompassing – and it’s not just our lifestyles, careers and relationships that are influenced by it.

Britain, meet Bolivia: what can social movements learn from each other?

7th February 2018

Bolivia has a deep history of resistance. After over 500 years of colonisation, it continues to be home to the largest and most diverse indigenous population in the continent, with 36 different indigenous peoples officially recorded. At the turn of the millennium movements successfully took on both a multinational corporation and a President – paving … Read more

Back to the future: how can we help people change the system?

7th February 2018

So many organisations are seeking to make a difference to people’s lives today. But how can we involve the communities we work with in shaping the policies and systems that will change their tomorrows too?

Funding the Cooperative City – lessons from across Europe

Funding the Cooperative City – lessons from across Europe

22nd January 2018

One of the constant themes we’ve heard during the first year of the inquiry is the need to create places and spaces for people to come together, create and meet others. What’s going on across Europe and what can we learn?

‘Crowd journalism’ is proving good for our health – and more besides

8th November 2017

A growing appetite for crowd sourcing solutions to societal challenges online – reflected in the success of news sites such as Positive News, The New Internationalist and Mental Health Today – offers hope for the futures of both civil society and journalism. I co-edit Mental Health Today and we regularly see our “crowd” of 70,000 … Read more

“You can’t take the politics out of the struggle”: Four lessons from African feminist organising

20th August 2017

African feminist movements are diverse. But we can, and must, learn from decades of transformational organising on the continent.  As African feminists, we face multiple systems of oppression including the effects of colonisation, neocolonisation, white supremacy, militarism, the globalisation of capitalism and neoliberalism. Yet our movements are more vibrant and radically political than ever before. … Read more

Now is the time to join a tenants’ union

16th June 2017

British housing is a dangerous mess. But people are organising to protect themselves – like they always have. In 1915 in Govan, just south of the river Clyde in Glasgow, bands of women torpedoed flour bombs at creeping eviction enforcers from the towering windows of their tenements. Exasperated by increasingly predacious landlords and the rising … Read more

Building a user-generated museum: a conversation with Alistair Hudson

5th May 2017

Can the museum be reimagined as a place that actually works for its constituents, rather than for the art market? Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) director Alistair Hudson seeks to create a ‘useful museum’ that is the true manifestation of its community. What brought you to the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima)? I’ve … Read more



18th November 2018