The Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind (FPH) is a Swiss foundation that makes grants to civil society movements and organisations to support their actions in favour of a social and ecological transition.
Since 2010, CAC (Collectif des associations citoyennes or Collective of Citizens Associations) has functioned as a watchdog and early alert system that provides mutual support for citizens’ association and a place for debate and joint discussions. The CAC was created in 2010 when a formal complaint against the ‘Circulaire Fillon’ was presented to the Conseil d’Etat: this act tended to define associations in terms of their economic dimension alone and to assimilate them, in fact, with traditional lucrative companies. This inaugural struggle represented the first component of CAC’s commitment: resistance to the phenomenon of ‘commodification of the associative sector (areas of activity: social action, culture, ecology, media, access to the law, international solidarity, etc.). Associations’ participation in public action is the second component, and the participation of citizens’ associations in the ecological transition is the third. The CAC also presents itself as an observer of changes in the associative sector. It identifies and publicises associative instances that propose alternatives and offer hope. The group has devoted much effort to the social and solidarity-based economy in the past few years and, in particular, has published an article-by-article analysis of the SSE law and an indepth, critical analysis of Social Impact Bonds.
In the new political context it is also important to show that group action has a role to play alongside individual initiatives, that citizens in association are the principal actors in ‘social innovation’, and that disinterested associative action is vital to the functioning of society.
The association now has 250 members, 2 paid employees and approximately 130 active volunteers. CAC has 18,000 contacts, 2800 of which are associations. Amongst those are 180 regional or departmental associations and 150 national networks, of which 50 are registered members (representing a large number of other members). Many of these are FPH partners or close associates (ex. ATTAC, AITEC, Citizen Science, Amis de la confédération paysanne, CRID, CIMADE, Ritimo, MRAP).
The Collective of Citizen Associations relies on the instances defined in its bylaws (Boards of Directors and General Assemblies) to determine its strategic directions, but also takes into account feedback from Summer University/seminar sessions and plenary meetings (open to non-members) in defining these directions and working areas.
The objective of the CAC is to focus on and commit itself to:
the fight against financialization
associations’ participation in public action
observation of changes in the associative world
ecology and transitions
rights and freedoms for associations
– associations’ viewpoints.
The Collective attempts to link associations working on the local or regional level to improve their increasingly difficult situations. It is also important to the Collective to give hope to associations, and an awareness of how their actions contribute to the future of society.