CSDS was constituted as a society, funded largely by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), an autonomous body of the Government of India. It received a major endowment from the Ford Foundation in 2000 and a four-year grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada in 2010. Several members of the CSDS faculty have been recognized nationally and internationally for their academic work and contribution to public life. These include: The Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Yogendra Yadav in 2009 and Rajeev Bhargava in 2011. The Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize for Ashis Nandy in 2007. The Pratibha Puraskar and Vidula Samman for Madhu Kishwar in 1997 and 1998 respectively. The Global South Solidarity Award given by the International Political Science Association for Yogendra Yadav in 2009. The UGC National Pranavananda Saraswati Award for outstanding contribution to political science for Rajeev Bhargava in 2009.
In addition, several members of the faculty have served on various national and international boards: Rajni Kothari has been a member of the Planning Commission. D.L. Sheth was a member of the Backward Classes Commission. Yogendra Yadav was appointed member of the National Advisory Council for the implementation of the Right to Education Act in 2010. Peter R. deSouza served as the Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla. Two CSDS board members—Mrinal Miri and Anu Aga—are members of the Rajya Sabha. Another board member, Syeda Hameed, is a former member of the the Planning Commission.