Funding decision 2012.
The International Steering Committee of the Robert Carr Civil Society Network Fund (RC-NF) has decided to fund 24 networks in its inaugural year of operation. The funding selection reflects RC-NF’s attempt to balance global and regional issues with the needs of inadequately served populations. The 24 networks were selected from 135 eligible proposals. The RC-NF will make US$ 5,4 million available in this first year of funding, significantly less however than what is needed to fully fund the work of networks in the global response against AIDS
The role of civil society networks to achieve universal access.
The RC-NF was launched in July 26 2012 and is named after the late Dr. Robert Carr, who was a well-respected AIDS activist. Through providing financial support to global and regional civil society HIV networks, the new RC-NF aims to strengthen the role of civil society. Global and regional networks are crucial to achieving the commitments of the 2011 UN Political declaration on HIV/AIDS, and global strategies, such as the UNAIDS strategy "getting to zero", the Global Fund strategy "Investing for impact", and all ongoing efforts to achieve Universal Access to HIV-related Services by 2015, given their intermediary role with civil society organizations at the country-level. Global and regional networks have important coordinating, convening and community systems strengthening functions.
The founding donors of the RC-NF include: the governments of the UK, US and Norway and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The International Steering Committee (ISC) of the RC- NF is responsible for grants-related decision-making. The ISC is composed of ten members representing civil society networks worldwide and the donors to the Fund, and an external Chair (link to website with names). The ISC is supported by a peer review Programme Advisory Panel (PAP), which reviews applications and provides technical guidance.
The ISC published the first call for proposals in July 2012. The Fund Management Agent, Aids Fonds in the Netherlands, received 1148 proposals. Eligibility of each application was independently determined by two Aids Fonds staff members using criteria established by the ISC. After screening for eligibility, 135 proposals only advanced for consideration to the PAP.
Each eligible proposal was then subsequently reviewed by two PAP members. Proposals were reviewed for their quality and contribution to the needs of inadequately served populations. Given the limited amount of money available, the PAP could not recommend full support for all proposals of good quality. In its final recommendations, the PAP advised the ISC to fund 24 networks but none at the requested levels. After careful deliberation, the ISC decided to accept the recommendations of the PAP accordingly.
The RC-NF operates under a strict Conflict of Interest Policy. Members of the ISC and the PAP were asked to disclose potential conflicts of interest. ISC and PAP members with conflict interest recused themselves from making recommendations or participating in decisions on individual proposals.
Based on the decision taken by ISC, Aids Fonds will now begin contract preparations with the selected networks.
The need to refine our strategy for funding networks.
The Steering Committee has chosen to support a relatively large number of networks representing a wide range in focus. Analysis from the first funding round highlight several important questions, such as: What is the right funding balance between global and regional networks; and how can we use the RC-NF to incentivize stronger collaboration between networks and greater alignment in the global AIDS response overall?
In this first round of funding, the regional networks were viewed by many on the PAP as being better linked to work at the country-level, based on the proposals reviewed. Recommendations on funding allocations therefore favored regional networks slightly over global networks in this round. These results highlight the need for further strategic discussions by the ISC and among stakeholders regarding the evolving nature of the global AIDS architecture and the relative roles global and regional networks could and should play. The Steering Committee will also review the gaps in coverage of priority communities that are served by networks, whether and how quality could be enhanced of submitted proposals, how synergies could be incentivized and whether the Fund has a role to play in the transition process of networks that not funded.
The ISC will decide on its future funding strategy and new calls for proposals in early 2013. The decisions for this first round are valid for this year only.
Unmet network needs.
Total funding requested from the 135 eligible proposals for a 12-month period was US$ 44,240,075. The available RC-NF funding in 2012 is US$ 5,400,000. The 24 selected networks requested nearly US$ 10.000.000 in the first year of their proposed projects, reflecting greater need than resources available to meet that need. An overview of the selected proposals and the awarded grants is published on the website of the RC-NF.
A key lesson from the first funding round of the RC-NF is that there are many strong and worthy networks supporting the world’s fight against AIDS. These networks play a vital role in promoting innovation, developing leadership, disseminating information, linking stakeholders, advancing policy and supporting good practice. They accomplish a great deal with relatively little funding, which makes RC-NF support good value for the money. But global and regional networks need more. We know this both from the sheer number of eligible applications the RC-NF received and their aggregated funding request.
The RC-NF is proud to be fulfilling part of this need. The RC-NF is grateful to the four donors who have committed to its support.In 2013, we plan to double our efforts to recruit more donors to RC-NF, which will permit us to further expand support to global and regional networks.