An important change is being implemented to global grant funding for 2021-22.

To better support the growth of global grants, The Rotary Foundation Trustees recently approved policy changes to help balance financial resources with program demands. These changes will take effect 1 July 2021.

The global grants program has been a tremendous success since it launched in 2013-14. That first year, the Foundation awarded 868 global grants worth $47.3 million. By 2019-20, the number of global grants awarded increased to 1,359, worth $95.6 million. While global grant funding increased by more than 100%, contributions to the Annual Fund, which is the primary source for global grant funding, did not keep pace. The demand for global grant funding is far greater than what is available.

Moreover, the Foundation responded to the unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19 by awarding $32 million in disaster response grants since March 2020 to projects aimed at fighting the pandemic.

The amount available from the World Fund for global grants each year depends primarily on Annual Fund contributions. Over the last several years, the World Fund, which provides the necessary funding for our highest priority activities, has been depleted before each Rotary year ends, leaving many grant proposals unfunded. This year, the Foundation implemented several cost-saving measures in an effort to increase the funding available for global grants. The Trustees and the RI Board also transferred $15 million from the Foundation’s operating reserves and RI’s budget surplus to the World Fund. In total, nearly $20 million in additional funding is being made available this year. Unfortunately, it’s still not enough to meet demand. Trustees expect a financial shortfall this year and in years to come due to the growing success of the global grant program.

Therefore, in an effort to fund more global grants, these policy changes will take effect 1 July:

  1. District Designated Fund (DDF) contributions transferred to PolioPlus will be matched at 50% instead of 100% by the World Fund before being matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation will continue matching 2-to-1 every dollar that Rotary commits to polio eradication, up to $50 million per year.
  2. The World Fund match of DDF will be reduced from 100% to 80% when being used for global grants. For 2020-21, as long as funds remain available, DDF will continue to be matched at 100% as long as applications are submitted by 31 May and approved by 30 June. Applications that are not approved this Rotary year will need to be resubmitted with adjusted financing.
  3. Five percent of the current year’s Annual Fund-SHARE contributions will be take equally from the World Fund and DDF to help fund operating expenses. Currently, a $100 Annual Fund-SHARE contribution is divided as $50 for DDF, $45 for the World Fund, and $5 for operating expenses. Starting 1 July 2021, a $100 contribution will be divided $47.50 to DDF, $47.50 to the World Fund, and $5 to operating expenses. As shown by the Foundation’s reviews from several independent charity ratings, our stewardship of contributions has made The Rotary Foundation one of the most highly rated and effective nonprofits. We received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for 13 straight years.
  4. The ability to roll over unused DDF will be limited to five years. Districts are encouraged to fully use their DDF to make a positive impact through our programs, but the amount of DDF rollover remains high — on 1 July 2020, $48.8 million was carried into the current Rotary year. At the end of each Rotary year, starting 1 July 2026, DDF that has been held for more than five years will be applied at the district’s discretion to PolioPlus, areas of focus Endowment funds, Rotary Peace Centers, the Endowment Fund, the Disaster Response Fund, or the World Fund.