Global Affairs Canada’s funding processes for international assistance
There are two ways for civil society organizations (CSOs) to initiate an application for funding for an international development project:
- Apply through a call
- Submit an unsolicited proposal
- If funding is provided, the funding agreement will be a grant or contribution. According to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Policy on Transfer Payments and Directive on Transfer Payments, grants and contributions cannot provide a profit to the recipient.
- Multilateral organizations are not eligible to apply for funding through either of these two mechanisms. For more information, see Department-Initiated (Global Partners).
The other mechanisms used to fund development initiatives include:
- Request for Proposal
When the department needs to procure goods or services on behalf of an eligible beneficiary of official development assistance (for example, to implement a specific project design), it launches a competitive process by publishing a request for proposal (RFP) on Buy and Sell.gc.ca.
Organizations may submit a bid, following the instructions published in the RFP. There is both a technical evaluation and a financial evaluation of the bids submitted, and a contract is offered to the successful bidder. (Under the government’s Contracting Policy, profit is allowed in a contract.) If you have any questions about a specific contracting process, please be sure to follow the instructions for questions provided within the RFP.
- Institutional Support (Long Term)
The department provides institutional support to some multilateral organizations to support their operations. This funding is not project specific, and it is provided in the form of a grant. (Note: Multilateral organizations are those organizations created by treaties between states. Canada holds a seat on the board of most of the multilateral organizations it funds.)
- Institutional Support (Program-Based Approaches)
The department can provide funding to a sovereign entity (another country’s government). Sometimes Canada’s international assistance is provided through the development agency of another donor country because they are managing the initiative directly or because doing so is the most efficient way of supporting a particular initiative.
In certain cases, the government of a developing country produces a plan through which donors can provide funding for a specific initiative, or a particular sector, or the overall operations of that government. The recipient government demonstrates capacity in public financial management and commits to achieving certain results. In addition to the identified development results, this type of funding helps build the governance capacity of the recipient government, allowing them to better manage services for their citizens and for their citizens to recognize their own government’s accountability for providing those services. Sometimes a trust fund managed by a third party, such as the World Bank, is also used for this purpose.
- Department-Initiated (Global Partners)
Circumstances sometimes indicate that the most effective approach to a particular development challenge is to work with a specific multilateral organization. In this case, the department can invite an organization to submit a proposal. As specified in agreements with multilateral organizations, they can use their own proposal formats and documentation with all donors.
A multilateral organization may also submit an unsolicited proposal through this process.
- Department-Initiated (Civil Society Organizations)
The department can target a specific CSO with an invitation to submit a proposal for an initiative that aims to achieve specific high-level development results. Sometimes, that organization already has a successful initiative in place that the department wishes to see extended to new areas. Sometimes there is only one CSO already working with a particular local organization, or in a specific sector in an isolated or insecure geographic region. There may be a crisis or other circumstances that require a timely response, and the fastest and most efficient way of delivering assistance is by targeting a specific CSO that is already on the ground and has proven its capacity to achieve the desired type of results.
CSOs targeted in a Department-Initiated process receive a formal letter or email of invitation, signed by the director of the program issuing the invitation. The provision of funding is never guaranteed until the department accepts the proposal and signs a financial instrument with the organization. The invited CSO may choose to decline the invitation, but if it accepts, it is still necessary for the invited applicant to design the initiative and submit a complete application package using the application form provided with the invitation. The submitted proposal is then assessed on its own merits.
- Pilot project: Department-Initiated – Multiple Invitations (civil society organizations)
Some initiatives require specific credentials and/or experience that few civil society organizations (CSOs) have. Based on pre-defined criteria, we can invite a small number of them to each submit a proposal for an initiative with the intent to fund 1 or more projects.
When we invite CSOs to apply, they receive a formal letter or email. We do not guarantee funding until we have accepted the proposal(s) and signed a financial instrument with the organization(s). The CSOs we invite to apply may choose to decline or accept the invitation. If they accept, the CSOs must each design an initiative and submit a complete application package.
The application process can be done in 1 step (full proposals are requested upfront) or 2 steps (concept notes are first requested, then 1 or more CSOs are invited to each submit a full proposal). We assess the proposals both on their own merits and through a comparative analysis.
Humanitarian assistance follows a separate process. Please review these instructions on the guidelines page if you are interested in applying for funding for a humanitarian assistance initiative.
Security programming follows a separate process. Please review the specifications for this type of programming if you are interested in applying for funding through a security program.
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