Terms of Reference: Critical friend for the Learning and Evaluation of the Strengthening 21st Century Citizen Action Program

  • Development
  • Anywhere
Organization: CIVICUS
Closing date: 20 Feb 2021

Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, is seeking a consultant to serve as critical friend for the Program Strengthening 21st Century Citizen Action. The aim of this role is to accompany the team between March 2021 and June 2022, facilitating strategic learning and evaluation and curating lessons and reflections on a periodic basis.



CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. Established in 1993, since 2002 we have been proudly headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with additional hubs across the globe. The Alliance currently comprises over 10,000 members in more than 190 countries. Our definition of civil society is broad and covers non-governmental organisations, activists, civil society coalitions and networks, protest and social movements, voluntary bodies, campaigning organisations, charities, faith-based groups, trade unions and philanthropic foundations. Our membership is diverse, spanning a wide range of issues, sizes and organisation types, while staff is based across the globe in over 20 countries. This diversity is one of the Alliance’s most significant strengths and we are continually searching for practical ways to implement diverse and inclusive principles within civil society.

About the Strengthening 21st Century Citizen Action Program

The rapidly changing context in which civil society exists, and our new strategy which emphasises the need to work with ‘activists and organisations’, necessitates that we revisit the way we work. We are now exploring new initiatives aimed at strengthening citizen action, with a greater focus on the role of active citizens, non-formal civil society formations, and grassroots groups. Strengthening 21st Century Citizen Action (STCCA) is a five-year Program started in September 2018 in partnership with NORAD which is helping us develop dedicated capacity to design, test and scale new initiatives that aim to strengthen citizen action along two priority areas:

  • Support to individual activists and new generation changemakers who may not work within or associate themselves with organised civil society; and
  • More direct and democratic resourcing of smaller and spontaneous civil society formations.

As part of the STCCA and after extensive consultations and engagements carried out throughout 2019 (especially about potential mechanisms to better shift power and resources to grassroots groups and movements), it became clear that CIVICUS should play a leading role in influencing behavior of international funders and other enablers by bringing to the fore voices, stories and demands of grassroots. On the other hand, as well as focusing on funding issues, it is necessary to signal to both funders, other enablers and the general public why it is important to support grassroots organising for positive social change, especially in this particular moment in history. Based on the above, CIVICUS decided to launch a grassroots-led influencing and communications campaign that will roll out throughout 2021 until approximately March 2022.

Over this five-year period, we are working within and beyond our alliance to test ideas in these areas in line with this Theory of Change. While each program’s initiative has its own bespoke design process, they have a common aim, namely a more resilient, diverse and vibrant civil society that has the agency and resources necessary to realise a more just, inclusive and sustainable world.

About the grassroots resourcing campaign

While the detailed strategy/plan for the campaign and for the grassroots community is just being co-created with activists, colleagues and other strategic partners, the main concept for the campaign has been based on these key features:

  • Co-created with and powered by grassroots activists
  • Seeding a grassroots community of action and learning
  • Engaging funders/enablers along the way
  • Centered around creative storytelling & hope-based narratives
  • A framework for accountability & further advocacy

About the critical friend role

We are looking at a critical friend to accompany the STCCA team during this crucial phase of the program. They will help review the Theory of Change (half-way into the program’s lifecycle), start documenting and reflecting on some of the key learning and evaluation questions identified, harvesting other outcomes and unintended impacts as well as curating a bespoke learning and reflection journey specific to the grassroots resourcing campaign, which is one of the program’s flagship activities for the next 12 months. Moreover, using different formats they will periodically curate short and informative thought pieces that will allow sharing relevant learnings and honest reflections along the way with other teams of CIVICUS as well as with external audiences.

Expected work and deliverables

  1. A) Periodic review of the Theory of Change for the overall STCCA Program and related learning/reflection (3 times within the 16 months)

  2. Curate and facilitate a collective review of the NORAD ToC, propose and incorporate changes

  3. Identify 1-2 key learning questions to test some of the assumptions of the ToC

  4. Gather information and evidence

  5. Facilitate periodic reflections around these findings

  6. Create short stories about learnings related to the ToC that can be shared with the Secretariat and CIVICUS constituents

  7. B) Finalise the monitoring, evaluation and learning framework for the campaigng., the influencing approach, the co-creation and the narrative work

  8. Help the team identify a few key hypotheses to test

  9. Define what evidence/stories to gather

  10. Gather information and evidence including but not exclusively through review of the evidence collected by the project co-creation team (namely Learning Log, Progress Check-In notes, Net Promotor Score data from participants and key stakeholders).

  11. Additional information will be gathered during the months following the end of the campaign (I.e., first quarter of 2022) to inform the hypotheses. This entails things as such as the What’s Changed survey, outcome harvesting and additional data collection

  12. Facilitate bi-monthly reflections on the findings

  13. Create short stories to share about findings and reflections on a bi-monthly basis


By when


Estimated days

March 2021

first review of overall programme ToC (and related learnings shared) + campaign’s hypothesis defined


April 2021

bi-monthly reflection session facilitated and related learnings shared


June 2021

bi-monthly reflection session facilitated and related learnings shared


August 2021

bi-monthly reflection session facilitated and related learnings shared


October 2021

bi-monthly reflection session facilitated and related learnings shared


November 2022

Second review of overall programme ToC (and related learnings shared)


December 2021

bi-monthly reflection session facilitated and related learnings shared


February 2022

bi-monthly reflection session facilitated and related learnings shared


April 2022

do “What’s Changed” survey, outcome harvesting and additional data collection to inform hypothesis


April 2022

bi-monthly reflection session facilitated and related learnings shared


May 2022

Third and final review of overall programme ToC (and related learnings shared)


June 2022

final summary of campaign’s learnings, hypothesis proven, and final reflections


Expected work days and timeframe

Up to 50 working days between March 2021 – June 2022 (16 months)


Essential knowledge, skills and experience

  • Critical thinking, ability to find patterns/themes/learnings and to share these in creative and informative ways
  • Ability to synthesize information and write clear, concise summaries supported with evidence without jargon for a broad audience
  • Demonstrated experience in running interviews, surveys, focus groups, outcome harvesting, etc
  • Familiarity with Theory of Change and developmental evaluation approaches
  • Experience in using hypothesis testing approach
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills in English
  • Excellent IT skills
  • Good facilitation skills in online working settings and familiarity with co-creation
  • Interpersonal skills: inclination and ability to work with a diverse, multicultural virtual team
  • Availability during the hours of 2-5pm (Johannesburg time zone) to hold reflection sessions

Desirable knowledge, skills and experience

  • Storytelling, creative dissemination of learnings/findings
  • Familiarity with aspects of intersectionality, diversity and inclusion
  • Expert knowledge on civil society resourcing issues relevant for the STCCA program in general and for the grassroots resourcing campaign in particular
  • Competence in additional languages (preferably Spanish and French)

How to apply:

Application process

Interested candidates are welcome to submit their proposal in writing to the HR Team at jobs@civicus.org by 20th February 2021. Proposals must include the following:

  • Proposal describing your personal and professional approach to this assignment and how you hope to accomplish the objectives. If applying as a team please identify the specific roles and responsibilities of each member (2 page maximum)
  • Full CV outlining relevant expertise in relation to the requirements of this assignment with examples (2-3 page maximum)
  • Daily rates and estimated days for completion of this project.
  • “Critical Friend for STCCA Program” must be included in the subject line of the email

Please contact Hannah Wheatley hannah.wheatley@civicus.org if you have any questions or need clarification on the terms of reference. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. References may be requested for shortlisted candidates.


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