The team created a methodology to be applied throughout the first phase of the mapping. However, the methodology evolved and was reviewed through practice which led to some delay in the project, however the quality of the results was subsequently improved.


the term civil society to refer to the wide array of non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) therefore refer to a wide of array of organizations: community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labor unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations. See here

Based on the above mentioned definition, the NPO is

– Non-profitable
– Non-governmental
– Non-partisan
– Non-violent

Later the condition “Non-family” was appended

The definition of the European Commission, states that a Non-Governmental Organization has the following characteristics:

-NGOs are not created to generate personal profit. Although they may have paid employees and engage in revenue-generating activities they do not distribute profits or surpluses to members or management;
-NGOs are voluntary. This means that they are formed voluntarily and that there is usually an element of voluntary participation in the organisation;
-NGOs are distinguished from informal or ad-hoc groups by having some degree of formal or institutional existence. Usually, NGOs have formal statutes or other governing document setting out their mission, objectives and scope. They are accountable to their members and donors;
-NGOs are independent, in particular of government and other public authorities and of political parties or commercial organizations;
-NGOs are not self-serving in aims and related values. Their aim is to act in the public arena at large, on concerns and issues related to the well-being of people, specific groups of people or society as a whole. They are not pursuing the commercial or professional interests of their members

(EC, The Commission and Non-Governmental Organisations, 2000,)

Since the EU definition is made for NGO in general, we found it not properly reflecting the situation of Syrian civil society, such as taking into consideration its young age and difficulties to get registered and work properly

A non-profit, non-governmental, non-partisan and non-violent institution with a distinct Syrian flavor, meaning that the majority of its management team members are Syrians, it focuses on the Syrian cause, primarily targets Syrians inside Syria or in neighboring countries, or particular Syrian social sectors or ethnicity. The legal status of an institution did not affect our classification of it constituting a Syrian civil society organization.

Civic Activists and Community initiatives

A group of citizens gather in order to address a particular problem that was not solved by the responsible authorities or other NGO’s. The initiative aims to advocate a cause or respond to an emergency by acting and deciding collectively. Such groups have no particular hierarchy or title.

Which institutions are included in the survey?

The above-defined institutions, civil initiatives or activists’ initiatives which have specific titles and a formal channel of communication.

Which institutions are excluded from the survey?

The institutions that do not fall under the above-mentioned definition, international NGO’s and GO’s and their Syrian branches as well as the United Nations organizations.

Primary sources of data: This data was gathered by interviewing organizations, institutions and Syrian teams. It includes:

* Direct observations by monitors. Monitors are distributed in all Syrian governorates – each local team is directed by a Regional Manager- as well as a team in Turkey. Information is gathered and entered into an online platform, so it can be cross checked with all other

sources available to the data review and processing team. This team reports to the main office in Berlin. (see figure 1)

* Direct interviews with organizations: interviews conducted by the monitors or area managers. This was especially the method of date collection used with Syrian organizations and networks mentioned in this report.

* Published information about each organization through their official communication channels.

Secondary resources of data:

* Information provided by partners of particular organizations.

* Information published in previous surveys.

* Data harvesting, which was mostly done on Facebook and some other social media.

The ICNPO was introduced in 1996 and includes 13 main categories and 80 subcategories with possibility of expansion

An example of detailed classification based on the ICNPO is the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) Classification System

We used the International Classification of Non-Profit Organizations (ICNPO) to cluster the organizations into specific groups, but we couldn’t fully depend on the classification proposed by the standard since its terms are very general. So we added a third level of classification based on the explanation of the standard, and added a fourth level based on our previous study of the Syrian CBOs and their interests to be as specific as possible. Below we provide a full list of the categories used.

At the beginning we developed a classification based on the definitions by the Syrian CBO’s themselves with help of the clustering system of the relief and emergency sector.

However we migrated to the ICNPO later, therefore we expect some inconsistency in profiles and categorization of some organizations, despite the double check we performed on all of them.

The enumerators’ team was distributed over Syria and in the neighboring countries, each group of enumerators was led by an area manager, the full number of enumerators was not deployed in the first phase of the mapping, however the team is growing.

Although we classify the organizations according to the Syrian official administrative regions, other factors were considered like connected areas, communities, military control and (expected) number of organizations. The regions we work in are:

South: Daraa, Swaida , Qunaitra

Center: Damascus, Damascus suburbs, Homs

North: into 3 sub-regions

-Aleppo, Idleb, Northern Hama, Eastern Lattakia

-Raqqa, Deirezzor, South-Alhasakeh

Kurdish areas: Hasakeh , Kobani , Afrin

Syrian government controlled areas: Damascus , Homs, Hamah, Lattakia, Tartous

some enumerators are (or will be) in Jrdan, Lebanon, KRG and Turkey