Civil society and its organizations play an important social, political and economic role in democratic countries. They provide (social) services, represent interests of minorities or vulnerable groups, perform a watchdog function towards politics and public administration, and contribute to community building by involving different people, e.g. in volunteering and membership.
The existence of a vivid civil society is an indicator of well-functioning democracies that give space to the full variety of different opinions, concerns and solutions. Civil society organizations (CSOs) are often established where a particular social or political concern emerges.
By combining a mix of various public and private resources – such as public funds, private donations, voluntary work and membership fees – they are often a source of social innovation.