This report comes as a follow up to “Syrian civil society organizations: reality and challenges” report published by CFS in early 2017. The aim of this report to provide a look onto the status of civil society at the end of 2018 in light of drastic military and political changes between 2017 and 2018. More specifically, the report investigates how changes in context are reflected on the shape and role played by CSOs, and what are the quantitative manifestations, such as the spread and size of CSOs, as well as the most prominent trends in the civil society scene as a result of these changes.

Following the above established terminology, the report studies CSOs as one main representative of civil society structures, excluding analysis of non-organized civil society forms such as grassroots initiatives, as well as government-alternative structures that emerged in areas outside of the central government control and are undertaking responsibilities traditionally associated with governmental organizations such as local council, health and education directorates and local courts. The report also excludes social media based organizations and traditional media organizations (newspapers, radios and televisions) as they usually follow different structures and mandates that require a stand-alone analysis.


The report relies primarily on data collected specifically for this purpose using a standardized mapping tool[1], which was designed in the form of a questionnaire consisting of 90 close-ended or multiple choice questions that covers five main thematic areas as follows: location, structure, work domain, finances and funds, and needs and priorities. The tool was adapted from a capacity assessment tool used in CFS previous mappings, and adjusted in consultation with a number of Syrian CSO members to provide quantitative data with the goal of including as many Syrian CSOs as possible, and focusing on their organizational characteristics and internal structures.

The data included in this report was collected in the period between August and November 2018 by a field team consisting of over 30 enumerators spread across four main teams inside Syria based on area of control (GoS-controlled areas, opposition-controlled areas in northwest, Turkish-controlled areas and DSA-controlled areas), in addition to a field team in each of Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. All the enumerators were trained on data collection methods, informed about the purpose of this assignment and equipped with a detailed written guideline for the questionnaire. IMPACT field teams collected data using Kobo Toolbox online data collection platform, by interviewing key members of CSOs active in each one of the targeted areas. The collected data is thus based on self-reporting and reflects CSOs own assessment of their status.

The data collection process was followed by manual data cleaning to remove duplicates and non-eligible entries, reducing the total number of entries from 544 to 514 that were included in the analysis. Quantitative data analysis was conducted using SPSS and MS-Excel to produce tables and charts for single or aggregated variables. The results of quantitative analysis were then cross-referenced with contextual updates, media reports, field team observations and qualitative input from interviews conducted formally or informally with members of CSO. The results of this process constitute the main findings presented in this report.

It is also worth mentioning that while this report includes the analysis of the originally collected data, the mapping exercise continued after the abovementioned period and additional CSOs were added and are to be included in an extended regularly updated database to be managed by IMPACT.

[1] Please refer to Annex 1 for a shortened version of the tool’s questions. Complete tool is accessible through the following link: