Centre for Policy Alternatives on 25 March, 2014

Crowd funding update: Two months on, more support needed

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24 March 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Please read and help us distribute this appeal in Tamil here or Sinhala here.

CPA sincerely thanks all those who responded to its initial crowd sourcing appeal.  Your generous assistance will critically sustain our work in the challenging year ahead.

Two months later, we take this opportunity to re-launch the appeal. Please note the change in bank details – all CPA accounts have been transferred to Nations Trust Bank (NTB) to avail the organization of the competitive rates and charges at NTB.

We have also had many requests from those in Sri Lanka on how they can support our work. The perception is that we are only open to contributions in a foreign currency.

This is emphatically not true.

Cognisant that our institutional profile – because the nature of our advocacy and activism often generates violent pushback – could be perceived of as risky to support openly as a resident of Sri Lanka, our initial appeal was to those outside of Sri Lanka, particularly from the diaspora, to help strengthen our work. Subsequently and to a surprisingly greater degree than we anticipated, we have been heartened by requests from individuals and institutions within Sri Lanka who want to support us institutionally.

CPA is open to donations of any value, from any individual or institution in Sri Lanka, supportive of our work. Established in 1996, CPA has over 17 years set the bar for how cutting-edge research and advocacy can address the deficit in democracy and governance through constructive dialogue, bold and innovative content, otherwise marginalized or forgotten. 

CPA is a relatively small team of fewer than 50 staff, including those in administration, working across 4 key units in 2 offices, both located in Colombo. We do a lot of work, from measures to address corruption to election monitoring, from international award-winning civic media initiatives to grassroots capacity building across Sri Lanka, from social polling to field-based and applied research. CPA, more than any other civil society organisation and even beyond mainstream media in Sri Lanka, designs and leverages cutting-edge online and web tools to strengthen and promote its advocacy.

Our path-breaking public interest litigation encompasses cases on fundamental rights as well as pre-enactment judicial review, and has provided relief to thousands of plaintiffs over language rights, land issues, human rights violations, election malpractices, displacement, the freedom of movement and much more. CPA’s social polling provides unique and vast socio-economic datasets and analysis for the whole of Sri Lanka.

Our extensive research and advocacy on constitutional reform, power-sharing arrangements to resolve the ethnic conflict and on human rights protection, is highly commended nationally and internationally.

Senior staff are regularly quoted in mainstream media, both locally and internationally, for their expertise and insights. Institutional output, in print and online in all three languages, is regularly flagged and used in debates around policy-making. Because of its profile, CPA is often the subject of hate-speech, with key staff regularly and publicly vilified. And yet, particularly in a country where even post-war, peaceful dissent, critical thinking and alternate political perspectives are violently censored and clamped down upon, what CPA does, represents and provides a space for, is absolutely vital to Sri Lanka’s democratic future.

Prominent Sri Lankans who have endorsed CPA’s work include,

  • Chandra Jayaratne, Sri Lankan of the Year in 2001 and Former Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce who sees CPA as an organisation that ensures “strict benchmarks for assessment of the outcomes, delivery of promises and efficient, effective and professional management of resources optimizing quality and productivity” and,
  • Deshamanya Bradman Weerakoon, who was a founder director of the organization notes, “The work that the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has done over the years in shining a light on the many areas of State action that need to be corrected has thereby received the highest commendation… As a founding father of the institution and a long time Board Director I am intimately aware of its capacity and potential. What it needs most at this critical time in our country’s journey is funding and resources to accomplish its tasks. Of determination and courage to do so it has no shortage.”

Prominent international opinion and policy makers have the following to say about our work:

CPA is one of the brave and credible Think Tanks in South Asia. It has had a distinctive role and voice, not just in Sri Lanka, but in discussions on the future of human, rights, democracy and public policy more generally..…..Such organisations need to be supported. They are a necessary part of a vibrant democracy, an eco system that values knowledge, and the exercise of public reason.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
, President & Chief Executive
, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, India

CPA is and has been an extraordinarily important institution, in Sri Lanka and internationally. It offers a combination of forward thinking, balance and genuine expertise that is all too rare. 
Cheryl Saunders
, Laureate Professor, Melbourne Law School,
 Director of Studies, Government and Public Law, 
Melbourne Law Masters

A small, effective, dedicated group of people who believe deeply in a plural, diverse, democratic Sri Lanka, and who believe courageously in public policy based on facts. I’m supporting them and encourage everyone to do the same.
Bob Rae, the 21st Premier of Ontario, Canada

The CPA is quite simply the most outspoken, credible, and fair-minded civil society group in Sri Lanka. Without the CPA there would be virtually no independent and credible domestic critique of the Sri Lanka Government’s authoritarianism and other excesses.
Edward Mortimer, 
Chairperson 
Sri Lanka Advocacy Campaign

Sri Lanka has been at relative peace for nearly five years. Yet, in that time, the nation has not taken sufficient steps to build effective democratic institutions or strengthen the role of civil society. Without such progress, the promise of peace may never be fully realized in Sri Lanka. That is why the Centre for Policy Alternatives’ work is so vital and deserves the support of everyone who cares about the people of Sri Lanka.
Richard L. Armitage, 13th United States Deputy Secretary of State

The unparalleled track record of achievements of CPA under Sara’s leadership has drawn in many sponsors, most of them multi lateral agencies and international NGO’s with strict benchmarks for assessment of the outcomes, delivery of promises and efficient, effective and professional management of resources optimizing quality and productivity.
Maja Daruwala, Director Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi

Despite this reputation, the most pressing challenge for CPA today is donor fatigue and disengagement. With Sri Lanka as a middle-income country on paper and competing donor agendas in mediagenic contexts like Syria, Afghanistan, Burma and Nepal, Sri Lanka’s enduring need for civil society research and advocacy to be supported is in grave danger of being significantly deprioritised, even forgotten. This is not a temporary glitch. Institutional funding will, for a range of reasons, be increasingly scarce.

In order to expand its donor base, CPA is exploring the possibility of raising endowment funds from well-wishers, both locally and internationally. This crowd-sourced funding approach will help CPA to maintain its independence and support its entire portfolio of research and advocacy, which currently risks rapid constriction.  Our initial appeal was to those outside of Sri Lanka interested in supporting our advocacy and activism towards a stronger democracy. We are expanding this to those in the country who have for years championed our work and are now keen to support us financially.

As noted earlier, we are open to donations of any value from those in our country, who can easily transfer funds to our local account.

Account Name: Centre For Policy Alternatives
Bank Account No: 006100022-248
Bank Name: Nations Trust Bank PLC
Bank Address: No. 242 , Union Place , Colombo 02 , Sri Lanka
SWIFT code: NTBCLKLX

Contact CPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu on [email protected]for more information. As a legally registered entity in Sri Lanka, CPA has undertaken, since inception, an independent annual audit which is published on its website.  CPA also publishes its Executive Director’s report every year, flagging institutional output and impact.

The success of this effort to support CPA’s on-going institutional expenses rests entirely on you. Please contribute generously and pass this appeal along to those who want to see CPA continue to champion and bring about a Sri Lanka where anyone, anywhere is able to live in dignity, and without fear.

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Executive Director