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An institute dedicated for the advancement of knwoledge of civil society organisations

The French Institute for Civil Society Organisations aims to promote CSOs’ contribution to society and democracy and to meet their needs of knowledge

Our missions

Promoting research and directing it towards areas of interest

Gathering and disseminating research findings to CSOs

Structuring a knowledge network on CSOs

The origins of the Institute

The French Institute for Civil Society Organisations was founded in Lyon by Simone André, a prominent figure of the sector who devoted 77 years of her life to the development and influence of CSOs.

The initiative comes from the observation of the considerable place that associations, or CSOs, have in French society: 1.5 million associations, 1.85 million jobs, 22 million volunteers and a €113 billion budget. Associations, alongside public authorities, are responsible for large areas of the common good. They demonstrate their ability to go through deep societal mutations such as social and territorial cohesion, culture and education, solidarity with vulnerable people, sustainable development and collaborative economy. Their participative decision-making processes, and their collective contribution to society as intermediate bodies, allow them to actively contribute to democratic dynamism.

Based on the above observation, a strong conviction is at the origin of the Institute: enriching knowledge of CSOs is vital. This leads to a better definition of their contribution to society and democracy. It also allows to better accompany the sector’s mutations, and to have a better understanding of its specific needs.

The French Institute Civil Society Organisations was created in January 2019 under the aegis of the Fondation pour l’Université de Lyon (Lyon University Foundation), which is officially recognised as serving the public good. Based in Lyon, it aims to operate at the national and European levels and eventually, globally.

Since the civil society sector is an essential part of universal civilisation, the time has come to create a leading cluster of knowledge and action. Such cluster should be a signal, an anchor point and a reference that spreads the light of the civil society sector’s richness, in the midst of its mission’s fundamental greatness and interest.

Simone André

President of Honour


Participatory research call for proposals

« Socioeconomic models and Value creation – Empowering CSOs and their relationship with their stakeholders »

This call for proposals was open to researchers, CSOs and their stakeholders who sought to shed light on issues related to CSOs socioeconomic models and to value creation through participatory research. 

7 research projects have been selected. Stay tuned for more information on these projects…


2020 Call for proposals – Laureates

“CSOs and Covid-19”

In the light of the Covid-19 crisis, this call for proposals intends to look into, in the long term:

  • CSOs’ role in societal resilience and transformation,
  • how CSOs contribute to the public interest,
  • the structural weaknesses that the crisis has revealed or accentuated in CSOs, and how some organisations have overcome them

Through this call for proposals, the Institute intends to bring guiding support to non-profits strategic decisions, as well as to fuel their partner organisations’ foresight. It aims to accompany the sector’s development as well as societal innovations and resilience. 

8 research projects were selected. 


CSOs’ knowledge needs

What does the nonprofit sector needs to know and which topics should research focus on? What are the nonprofit sector’s expectations towards an Institute that is dedicated to the promotion of knowledge on nonprofits?

The Institute has launched an original national consultation to gather the needs of nonprofit and voluntary organisations, their stakeholders and researchers. 

Find below the results of the consultation in two formats: a synthetic report and a webinar.

Results (French): 


A participatory research programme on CSOs in Hauts-de-France

Our Institute and Le Mouvement associatif Hauts-de-France launched a joint participatory research programme.

In 2020-2021, this programme helped developing a local knwoledge network composed of researchers and practitioners. Through this programme, we identified a number of knwoledge priorities for CSOs in this region.

In 2022, Univ’Asso supported two research projects that will adress some of these priorities.

2019 Call for proposals – Laureates

« Research on CSOs »

How do non-profit organisations contribute to society? What mutations are they going through? Do they operate in specific ways?

We launched our first call for proposals in June 2019 to support and promote research studies that address these issues, amongst others.

15 research projects were selected.


Local meetings

In 2019, we launched a series of local meetings all around France that were intended at gathering researchers and practitioners around knowledge of CSOs.

These meetings shed light on local cooperations between researchers and practitioners and give a space for practitioners to voice their needs of knowledge.

Reports of these mettings are availble in French.

CSOs and Philanthropy: Levers to cooperate

Speaker at a webinar organised by IDEAS

How can knwoledge foster capacity-building for CSOs and philanthropy?   

Floriant Covelli was a speaker at a roundtable that gathered the HCVA and Pro Bono Lab. 


National Forum on CSOs and Foundations

Interview by Fabrice Lundy

How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted volunteer engagement? How do CSOs contribute to democracy?

Watch Floriant Covelli’s interview by Fabrice Lundy to find out more on these hot topics! (French)


Associations unveiled!

Juris Associations

Read our series of paper that we coordinated for Juris Associations (issue 361-January 2021-French)!

These articles, written by researchers, cover issues such as CSOs and democracy, culture, CSOs adaptability skills, their expertise in times of crises…

Upcoming events

Stay tuned for our upcoming events

Kickstarting the Europe & Neighbors Network

Structuring a Europe & Neighbors Network to ddvancing knowledge and the recognition of CSOs’ contribution to society and democracy in Europe

11:00-12:30 pm (CEST)

Who are we?

Our Board of Directors is constitued of people with rich and varied expertise and oversees the Institute’s strategy and its implementation.

Our transdisciplinary scientific Committee is composed of researchers. It oversees the Institute’s research programmes and contributes to its strategic decisions.

Our Board of Directors
  • Simone André, President of Honour, initiator of the project, President of the Forum International des Associations.
  • Yannick Blanc, President, trustee of La Fonda.
  • Brigitte Clavagnier, Secretary, Lawyer, JurisAssociation Editor-in-chief, member of the Haut Conseil à la vie Associative.
  • Caroline Germain, Treasurer, Managing Director of the Association pour le Développement de l’Accompagnement à la Stratégie et à l’Innovation de l’Intérêt Général.
  • Brigitte Giraud, Vice-President, President of CECLAVAR President, Director of the UNCPIE and trustee of the Mouvement Associatif.
  • Marie-Claire Martel, President of COFAC, trustee of the Mouvement Associatif.
  • Bernard Sinou, Managing Director of Institut Mérieux.
  • Claire Thoury, President of Le Mouvement associatif.
  • Didier Vinot, Professor, Executive Director of the Chair Valeur du soin, Head of the Research Group in Human Resources at iaeLyon.
Our Scientific Committee
  • Emmanuel Bayle, Professor in Sports Management at the International Sports Sciences Institute, University of Lausanne, and Head of the Master’s Degree Sports and Leisure Management.
  • Julia Bonaccorsi, Vice President of Science and Society, Lyon 2 University.
  • Elisabetta Bucolo, Sociologist, member of the LISE-CNRS (UMR 3320), lecturer at CNAM.
  • Romain Demissy, PhD in Economics, researcher at ATEMIS laboratory, member of the Institut Européen de l’Economie de la Fonctionnalité et de la Coopération.
  • Bernard Enjolras, Research Director at the Institut pour la recherche sociale, Director at the Norwegian Center for Research on Civil Society Voluntary Sector, and Editor at Voluntas.
  • Marie Fare, Lecturer in Economics at Lumière Lyon 2 University.
  • Laurent Fraisse, Researcher in Socioeconomics, member of the Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Sociologie Economique, lecturer at CNAM, Valenciennes University and IAE Panthéon Sorbonne.
  • Rupert Graf Strachwitz, PhD in Political Science, Director of The Maecenata Institute for Philanthropy and Civil Society, Berlin.
  • Guillaume Jaubert, Lecturer at Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University, researcher at IFROSS.
  • Laetitia Lethielleux, Lecturer in Management Science at Reims Champagne-Ardenne University (URCA), member of the REGARDS Laboratory.
  • Mathilde Renault-Tinacci, PhD in Sociology, researcher at CERLIS and at INJEP-National Education Ministry.
  • Philippe Ryfman, Professor and researcher at the Department of Political Science, Panthéon-Sorbonne Paris 1 Université, researcher at OCCAH (UQAM/Montreal), Lawyer (Paris Bar).
  • Roger Sue, Sociologist, Professor at the Department of Social and Human Sciences, Paris 5 Sorbonne University.
  • Guillaume Plaisance, Associate Professor in Management Sciences at the University of Bordeaux.
  • Julien Talpin, Research fellow at the CNRS (CERAPS/University of Lille), Co-director of the Scientific Interest Group “Democracy and Participation”.

Meet our team

Floriant Covelli

Floriant Covelli

Managing Director

Véronique Rioufol

Véronique Rioufol

Deputy Managing Director

Amira Azaiez

Amira Azaiez

Communications Officer

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French Institute for Civil Society Organisations

1 Rue Dr Fleury Pierre Papillon, 69100 Villeurbanne

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