Since 1943, Catholic Relief Service (CRS) has evolved into an international humanitarian organization of more than 5,000 people, working in 91 countries and serving more than 100 million people annually. As one of the world’s largest NGOs, CRS developed their new service strategy for 2014 – 2018 and included civil society engagement and good governance in their strategy.
- Promote human development by responding to major emergencies, fighting poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies
- Inspire and engage Catholics in the United States as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world.
One of CRS’s Guiding Principles is “Subsidiarity,” a principle signifying that any societal problem ought to be handled by the people who are closest to the problem and have a better understanding of the issues.
Since the early 2000s, CRS has applied a theory of change grounded in the concept of integral human development (IHD) which supports the ability of each individual to realize their full human potential in the context of just and peaceful relationships. In this theory of change, CRS emphasizes increasing equitable and inclusive access to and influence on structures and systems at all levels, and also building strategic partnerships and networks, especially ones that enable local organizations.
By 2018, CRS aspires to empower and serve 150 million poor and vulnerable people overseas while inspiring more than 10 million Catholics in the United States to put their faith into action. In their new strategy, they will invest to increase their impact in the following three signature program areas: Emergency Response & Recovery, Agricultural Livelihoods, and Health.
To achieve their strategic goal, CRS has identified five Core Competencies, one of which is Partner Collaboration & Support. CRS is committed to supporting local civil society actors, including Catholic Church and community-based organizations, to strengthen their capacity to contribute to lasting and meaningful social change. As local partners allow for more appropriate and sustainable solutions, CRS will continue to promote cross-sector engagement in their new strategy.
Another core competency is Peacebuilding, Governance & Gender Integration. CRS is “committed to intensifying our efforts to integrate peacebuilding and good governance into our work, particularly, those approaches that address social equity and inclusion – along the lines of gender, ethnicity, race and religion.”
CRS developed its strategic framework and priorities to contribute to lasting, positive change in the lives of poor and vulnerable people around the world – transforming hope into harvest. Because they share many priorities with our initiative on participatory local democracy, we appreciate this opportunity to shine a light on their work and interests.