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Building on the foundation laid by the Democracy Network (DemNet) program, the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) is implementing the Macedonian Activity for Civil Society Strengthening Project (CSSP). This initiative will elevate the civil society sector to new levels of legitimacy, accountability, and viability as a vehicle for helping Macedonians effectively utilize the CSO sector to voice their priorities, constructively address them, and hold the government accountable to the resulting decisions.

This initiative will elevate the civil society sector [in Macedonia] to new levels of legitimacy, accountability, and viability . . .

Utilizing USAID funding, ISC has contracted with Common Ground Consulting to enhance the effectiveness of the country's leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Macedonia, providing specific recommendations to ISC as to where there are unmet organizational needs. Working in Macedonia and the United States, Common Ground staff are identifying opportunities to add value and assist in helping to replicate successful activities leading to greater sustainability in advocacy and/or community service activities within the sector.

This consultancy is already providing strategic capacity building assistance to the Civil Society Strengthening Project through training and technical assistance to a selected cohort of experienced non-governmental organizations working in Macedonia. This core group of "Leader NGOs" will develop their own capacity and, in turn, act as mentors and resource providers to other Macedonian NGOs. This project also includes a special emphasis on developing sustainability and diversified fund development strategies; as well as building the skills and expertise of the staff managing the programs.

The CSSP program diversifies and decentralizes the civil society sector and helps mission-driven civil society organizations (CSOs) achieve and articulate concrete results on behalf of ordinary citizens. The program will make Macedonia's expanding third sector a more effective, influential, and permanent partner alongside governments and business in shaping the country's future-earning a legitimate "seat at the table" in Macedonian society.

Common Ground Consulting LLC is providing assessment, training, and technical assistance in both the United States and in Macedonia; and is using a variety of electronic and in-person means to support sustainability efforts within the Leader NGOs. In 2006 and again in 2007, we will provide group-level interventions, as well as one-on-one assistance. We will provide written reports throughout the project year and issue a final comprehensive report highlighting the relevant background information, training and technical assistance methodology, conclusions, and concrete recommendations for the CSSP.

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