Only 18 applications are competing for the second round of grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund, the new grant program to help nonprofits expand effective programs. The total is a significant drop from the 69 applications submitted in 2010 (54 of which were deemed eligible). Half of the 18 new applicants are from United Ways.
What is behind the drop in applications? It is hard to know, but there are several possible explanations.
First, there is a finite pool of potential applicants and many of those that were interested likely applied last year. Those that did and fell short may have been hesitant to reapply for fear of failing again, with all the potential embarrassment that might cause with local supporters. Indeed, of the 69 applicants in the first round last year, only seven reapplied this year.
Second, the uncertainty surrounding the corporation’s budget may have played a role. House Republicans had targeted the corporation and the Social Innovation Fund for elimination. If they had been successful, any work put into an application would have been lost.
Why are so many United Ways applying? One of the grantees in the first round was the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, which appears to have provided a model for other groups in the United Way’s network.
According to the corporation, most of the $49.9 million in funding this year ($50-million minus a 0.2-percent across-the-board cut that Congress imposed in its 2011 spending plan) will be used to extend the grants for the first year’s grant recipients.
The 18 new applicants requested a total of $24.6-million. According to the corporation, the final amount awarded will depend on:
- Money needed to support first-year grant recipients.
- The strength of second-year applications.
- The number of second-year applicants that receive multiyear grants.
The new grant winners, which must raise matching money and in turn award grants to nonprofit groups that do the work, are expected to be announced in August.