Closing of the Civil Society Fund, Creation of the New Global Partnership for Social Accountability
After 29 years supporting civil society organizations with the most recent goal of promoting civic engagement across the globe, the Social Development Civil Society Fund (CSF - formerly known as the Small Grants Program) closed down in July 2012. Its recent 2011 and 2012 grant activities will be managed as part of the newly established Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) which forms part of the World Bank's efforts to improve development effectiveness and contribute to governance reforms by supporting beneficiary groups and civil society organizations (CSOs) in their work for social accountability in developing countries.
Throughout its existence, the CSF supported CSOs in over 50 countries financing various activities ranging from good governance and social accountability, environment, social dimensions of climate change, gender and social inclusion, rural development and youth empowerment. The experience of the CSF over the years showed that by supporting CSOs directly, the World Bank supports i) enhanced awareness among citizens of their rights and responsibilities, leading to inclusion in the development process of otherwise marginalized voices; ii) increased knowledge sharing and networking among civil society and development partners; and iii) empowered civic engagement with and increased accountability by governments and relevant service providers. Along with its grant-making experience over the years, the CSF passes to the GPSA its invaluable and unprecedented experience working with hundreds of CSOs around the world.
The Global Partnership for Social Accountability
The GPSA is a global multi-stakeholder coalition that aims to increase levels of accountability at the country level. Its main objective is to improve development results by supporting capacity building for enhanced beneficiary feedback and participation. The GPSA will contribute to country-level governance reforms and improved service delivery. To achieve this, the GPSA will provide strategic and sustained support to beneficiary groups and CSOs in developing countries that are working with their governments, to promote greater transparency and accountability. After a global multi-stakeholder consultation process, the GPSA was approved by the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors on June 12, 2012.
The GPSA is a global partnership of donors and development actors for both funding and knowledge. Grants will be available for CSOs for capacity building, research and knowledge dissemination, networking and programmatic activities related to social accountability, including activities supporting the enabling environment for social accountability. The GPSA will make larger grants for periods of 3-5 years. The GPSA will also support a global platform for knowledge exchange and research, especially in measuring and documenting the impact of social accountability interventions; this will include developing and nurturing practitioner networks, especially those aimed at supporting South-South exchanges. The GPSA is funded by a multi-donor trust fund to which the Bank is contributing $20 million to establish the partnership. After the GPSA's operating procedures have been adopted and its governance structure has been put in place, including a Steering Committee with balanced representation from CSOs, donors and governments, the first GPSA call for proposals is expected to be announced in early 2013.
Country ownership of the development agenda is a key principle of the World Bank's approach to reducing poverty and inequity for people in low and middle income countries. This principle underpins the Bank's emphasis on broad-based stakeholder participation in development, as well as its recognition of civil society organizations as key partners in the development efforts.
Created in 1983, the Social Development Civil Society Fund (CSF- formerly known as the Small Grants Program) is one of the few global programs of the World Bank that directly funds civil society organizations. It is a concrete tool to aid in the advancement of the Bank’s social development agenda to empower poor and marginalized groups. The program is administered through participating World Bank Country Offices, who hold a call for proposals for civil society organizations each year and select successful proposals through a transparent and competitive process.
Purpose of the Social Development Civil Society Fund
The purpose of the CSF is to strengthen the voice and influence of poor and marginalized groups in the development processes, thereby making these processes more inclusive and equitable. To this end, it supports activities of civil society organizations whose primary objective is encouraging and supporting civic engagement of these target populations. By involving citizens who are often excluded from the public arena, and increasing their capacity to influence policy and program decisions, the CSF helps facilitate ownership of development initiatives by a broader sector of society.
In Fiscal Year 2010, CSF allocated $2.3 million to 52 countries; translating to 356 grants, serving over 400,000 beneficiaries. Youth and children remained the largest category of beneficiaries, followed by women and girls, and rural communities. CSOs used these funds to leverage an additional 53 cents for every $1 of CSF funding. For the first time in CSF history, the CSF provided funds through an "Emergency Window" in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Full Report
During Fiscal Year 2009, the CSF allocated $2.3 million to 57 Country Offices. CSF supported a total of 358 grants activities managed by grassroots CSOs. CSOs used these funds to leverage 41 cents for every $1 of CSF funding. The total number of beneficiaries for the year came to 351,295.
In Fiscal Year 2008, CSF funds served approximately 299,175 beneficiaries spending $6.30 of its own funds per beneficiary. The three most often targeted beneficiary groups were children and youth, rural communities, and girls and women.
In Fiscal Year 2007, the SmGP received $2.8 million from DGF and allocated approximately $2.3 million in grants with an average grant size of $6,400. SmGP activities covered 14 sectors and more than 10 thematic groups.
The tips cover seven areas that may be of interest to CSOs and that are key to organizational capacity. The audience is small NGOs and community based organizations who may have limited resources, but who have strengths, such as enthusiasm and commitment for their mission to improve the lives of others.