Foreign funding for civil society organisations

"Civil society" consists of a group of non-governmental organisations that are not-for-profit, and aim at influencing political decision-making in favour of public interest or the interests of a particular group. Civil society institutions in Egypt comprise of political parties, trade unions, and NGOs.

The issue of foreign funding for these organisations is a controversial one that divides public opinion every now and then. It has attracted considerable attention following the January 25 Revolution.

The USA, UK, Germany, and EU are among the most important donors for civil society organisations in Egypt.

Opponents of foreign funding argue that it weakens the independence of civil society organisations. They also see it as a tool used by donor countries to achieve their political and security-related objectives by following social and economic development in the home countries of the organisations whose activities they fund.

On the other hand, proponents of foreign funding argue that Arab governments, including Egypt, allow themselves to benefit from foreign funds without being accused of treason. Hence, it should be permissible for civil society organisations follow their governments’ suit. Moreover, local businessmen do not provide any support to institutions concerned with human rights and democracy. Finally, they argue, such funds help establish development projects and meet many citizens’ needs relating to basic services.