Answers to frequently asked questions regarding applications and the application process:
About UK Aid Direct
- Why does UK Aid Direct specifically provide support to small and medium sized civil society organisations?
Small and medium sized civil society organisations have a unique ability to build relationships, trust and legitimacy, through their grass roots knowledge of needs in developing countries. They play a vital role amplifying voice, shifting social norms and securing accountability for people that are excluded, discriminated and disadvantaged in order to build more open societies and economies. Small and medium sized civil society organisations are a key part of the overall portfolio of action required to achieve poverty reduction.
- How is UK Aid Direct different from the Global Poverty Action Fund?
UK Aid Direct is the second phase of the Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF). This next phase of funding demonstrates DFID’s commitment to working with civil society partners to achieve poverty reduction. Whilst GPAF focused on the Millennium Developments Goals, UK Aid Direct is designed to support the UK’s commitments to achieving the Global Goals. UK Aid Direct will build on the success and momentum of the GPAF, introduce more flexibility and responsiveness in recognition of the changing global international development framework, and work to strengthen communication and outreach.
- The application form requests that we explain how our organisational strategy aligns to the UK Aid Direct vision and mission. Where can we find information on the vision and mission of the fund?
Please refer to the About > Priorities section of this website.
- What will be the focus areas of future UK Aid Direct funding rounds and when will they take place?
UK Aid Direct has been established as a flexible and responsive fund to support small and medium sized civil society organisations working to reduce poverty. The timing and any criteria for future funding rounds will respond to global international development priorities and will be decided by DFID Ministers. Future funding rounds will be announced as soon as they are decided.
- In an informal partnership (i.e. not a consortium) do all downstream partners have to meet the eligibility requirements?
The eligibility criteria relate only to the lead applicant organisation and do not apply to downstream implementing partners who are not part of a formal consortium. However, the choice of downstream partners must make sense in the context of the project and not be engaging in any activities that encourage civil unrest, have linkages to terrorism or discriminate against any groups on the basis of gender, disability, race, colour, ethnicity, religion etc.
Your organisation should expect to carry out robust due diligence on the proposed partner and provide your assessment and findings for verification during the UK Aid Direct due diligence assessment. You will also need to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with your partners prior to project commencement.
- Can an applying organisation work with an organisation that has an annual income of more than £10m?
Although an organisation with an annual income of more than £10m is not eligible to apply, an applying organisation can work with an organisation with an annual income of more than £10m, providing it is not the only delivery partner.
- Do the eligibility criteria apply to all consortium members or just to the lead organisation?
All formal consortium members must meet the grant applicant organisation eligibility criteria specifically for Community Partnership Grants or for Impact Grants. The eligibility criteria apply to all members of the consortium. Therefore, if one member of the consortium did not meet the eligibility criteria, the consortium as a whole would be considered ineligible.
- If my application was rejected at proposal stage in the previous round and I wish to resubmit an application for the same project will I have to apply at concept note stage, or will my application go straight through to proposal stage? If we were unsuccessful in previous rounds can we apply again with the same project?
If your proposal was not accepted in a previous funding round, and you wish to submit a new application for the same project, you will have to begin the application process again, i.e. you will have to submit a new concept note, which in the interests of fairness and consistency to all applicants would then be considered alongside the other concept notes submitted in that new round. We would encourage you to consider the reasons that your proposal was unsuccessful in previous rounds.
- How many GPAF and UK Aid Direct grants can one organisation hold?
Organisations can hold a maximum total of 2 live UK Aid Direct Community Partnership grants and/or 3 live UK Aid Direct Impact grants at any time, including grants previously awarded as part of the Global Poverty Action Fund.
A live grant is a project with more than nine months left to run from the start date of the UK Aid Direct call for proposals.
One organisation is allowed no more than five grants in total.
A family of organisations is allowed no more than six grants in total.
What UK Aid Direct can fund
- Are there maximums/caps on budget categories such as capital expenditure, monitoring & evaluation, or UK costs?
UK Aid Direct does not specify how much of the budget should go to capital expenditure, monitoring and evaluation activities or UK costs. It is up to the organisation to make the determination appropriate to the project.
- What size is regarded as ‘at scale’ for Impact grants? E.g. in terms of beneficiary numbers, geographic reach etc.
For Impact grants to deliver ‘at scale’ the project needs to demonstrate the need and an appropriate response to that need. The project design will need to outline the appropriate strategy and size, reach etc. based on the need in conjunction with value for money principles.
- Is there a minimum funding amount on Community Partnership grants?
UK Aid Direct usually supports larger, multi-year projects, as a key requirement for UK Aid Direct funding is that projects are able to demonstrate that they can achieve a significant and lasting change. However, there is no minimum duration or funding request specified.
It is recommended that prospective applicants take into consideration the organisational capacity and level of effort required to manage a DFID grant, including reporting requirements, financial management capacity and contractual obligations.
- My application doesn’t address nutrition, family planning and modern slavery, will it be considered?
UK Aid Direct will consider all cost-effective applications that aim to reach the Global Goals and DFID’s strategic objectives.
We expect that among those applications there will be some that address the areas of nutrition, family planning and modern slavery.
- Are we able to submit a concept note for a project taking place in more than one country?
It is possible to submit an application for a project to be carried out in more than one country. However, all countries must be in the list of eligible project countries.
- We understand that DFID does not want a significant proportion of its grants to be spent on construction, but what about projects focused on addressing poverty with the provision of housing, water points, sanitation units that reduce poverty in a very measurable way?
Major capital expenditure (e.g. construction or purchase of buildings, purchase of land) cannot be supported as a primary focus of the proposed initiative. Any aspect of capital expenditure that you include needs to be fully justified as directly contributing to a sustainable outcome linked to the reduction of poverty and must be set out clearly in the budget. This is intended to avoid funding of buildings and equipment that are not supported by other project components or approaches to ensure that the capital expenditure contributes to a sustainable poverty reduction outcome
- Would a project that delivered service to women only be considered gender discriminatory if the benefits of the project would reach the whole community?
This would not be considered to be discriminatory, but we would still expect the men to be involved in the project design and implementation as appropriate.
- Country X is an eligible UK Aid Direct project country. Can we submit a concept note targeting citizens of country X that are living in refugee camps in country Y, even if country Y is not a UK Aid Direct eligible country, as the citizens in question are officially under the protection of country X?
Projects for country X must take place within the borders of country X or another eligible UK Aid Direct country of implementation. As country Y is not a UK Aid Direct country of implementation, this project would not be acceptable under the UK Aid Direct programme criteria.
- Can we apply for funding of an existing project?
Applications to UK Aid Direct for scaling up of an existing project/pilot to new geographic areas or expansion to include new components will be eligible. Such applications should be supported by evidence of impact of the existing project.
- Should our proposal fit into DFID’s operational plans for the countries for which we are applying?
DFID country offices are given the opportunity to comment on full proposals prior to any provisional award and it is important for proposals to demonstrate awareness of any DFID country plans and describe how the proposed intervention would relate to the country plans.
- Will UK Aid Direct give privilege to applications that address nutrition, family planning and modern slavery?
Each application will be assessed on its merits according to the criteria set out on the current funding round focus page, including whether it addresses the Global Goals and DFID’s strategic objectives. We expect that applications addressing nutrition, family planning and modern slavery will feature among the range of successful applications.
- Where can I find an offline version of the application form?
A PDF version of the application form and the budget template can be downloaded once you have passed the eligibility test and accessed the Concept Note in the online portal. You can do this by going to the Overview page of your application and clicking “Preview Application”.
Under no circumstances will UK Aid Direct review requests for funding or proposals submitted outside of the online portal.
- What is the working definition of primary and secondary beneficiaries?
Primary beneficiaries are those people who will directly benefit from the intervention, for example a mother attending an ante natal clinic is a direct beneficiary. Secondary beneficiaries are those who are benefitting indirectly from an intervention for example, someone attends a training on improving nutrition then shares that information within her household. The members of her household are secondary beneficiaries.
- Where can I find more information on the Theory of Change?
The Theory of Change can be submitted as narrative or as a diagram. You can find guidance on how to create the Theory of Change for your project proposal in our Concept Note guidance section of the website.
- How are concept notes and full applications appraised?
For more information about how concept notes will be appraised please visit the concept note page.
For more information about how full applications will be appraised, please visit the full application stage page.
- What are the next steps after we have submitted a concept note/full application?
UK Aid Direct is a challenge fund that awards grants on a competitive basis. UK Aid Direct has clear procedures in place to help ensure fair and transparent grant-funding decision making. We have a two-stage process of grant assessments and selection; the concept note stage, followed by the full application stage.
All concept notes will be checked for eligibility and validity. Only those that are considered to be eligible and valid will be assessed. Eligible and valid concept notes will be assessed in relation to criteria which will be defined per funding round. Concept notes will be reviewed and moderated, and the strongest concept notes will be selected to proceed to the next stage. All applicants will receive notification of the outcome of the assessment of their concept note.
Those invited to submit full proposals will receive further specific guidance on the preparation of proposals for each funding round. Full proposals will need to provide a more detailed description of the project plans with supporting documents, which will be defined for each funding round. Full applications will be reviewed by an independent Technical Review Panel (TRP) who are trained on the objectives and purpose of UK Aid Direct. Applications will be reviewed and moderated and all applicants will receive notification of the outcome of the assessment and feedback on their application. Successful organisations will then undergo full integrity due diligence and financial assessments prior to the grant contracting process.
- How and when will we be notified of the outcome of our submission?
At both concept note stage and full application stage, applicants will be advised of the outcome by email addressed to the main contact provided on your submission. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their Concept Note in early March (week commencing 13 March 2016).
- Can I submit draft versions of my concept note for approval or ask for suggestions on ideas for projects?
In the interests of fairness to all applicants, we regret that we are unable to provide specific guidance to applicants relating to individual project ideas. Your concept note should demonstrate how your idea fits with the specific objectives of UK Aid Direct and this specific funding round. The guidelines provide advice on what is and what is not eligible. However, if you have a specific query relating to any aspect of the guidance material, we are able to offer clarification, so please do not hesitate to email us or send a message via the Contact page of the website.
- The website does not give a proposed start date for projects. This would be extremely helpful, when in talks with partners and colleagues, so we can plan timings?
Bearing in mind the time that it will take to conduct assessments, the due diligence and grant setup processes, and allowing for proposal and project development, we expect that a realistic project start date for this funding round would be no earlier than nine months after the launch of the funding window.
Requirements and supporting documents
- Successful applicants will need publish their financial data on the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) as part of DFID’s transparency agenda. Do implementing partners also need to be fully or partially IATI compliant?
The Civil Society Partnership Review released by the UK Government in November makes the following statement:
At a minimum, by the end of 2017, centrally funded CSOs will be required to meet the full International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard on all their funding, and ensure that all the organisations in their delivery chain also meet the standard.
While DFID has yet to confirm exactly how this will be implemented, it is important that applicants consider the capacity of their downstream partners, as well as their own organisational capacity, to meet DFID’s grant holder requirements.
- We are a new organisation and do not have 3 years of audited accounts, does this exclude us from being able to apply?
A newly formed organisation can apply provided that it is able to meet all the eligibility criteria. If you cannot provide audited or approved accounts for the past three years, we may ask you to provide other information to satisfy us that you are able to manage the grant.
- Is there an acceptable variance in budget costings between the concept note and full proposal stages?
It is expected that there will be variations in costings between stages, so it would be acceptable provided that the grant request amount is still within the maximum allowable grant amount for Community Partnership or Impact grants. Please note that at proposal stage we would expect all items included in your project budget to be fully justified.
- What are the due diligence requirements?
All organisations are required to undertake a due diligence assessment prior to a DFID grant being confirmed. Assessments examine the capacity of organisations to manage DFID funds appropriately and transparently. Following the outcome of the assessment DFID’s offer of support will either be confirmed or withdrawn, and follow up actions may be required as a condition of the grant. Full details are available on the Gov.uk website.
If your project involves working with downstream partners your organisation should expect to carry out robust due diligence on the proposed partners and provide your assessment and findings for verification during the UK Aid Direct due diligence assessment.
- Are funds from an in-country government considered to be an acceptable source of match funding?
If your organisation was receiving money from the in-country government specifically for the project, this would be considered eligible.
- Is it acceptable for the 25% match funding to be provided by a Southern partner?
Yes, that is acceptable.
- Does the match funding need to be 100% confirmed by the time that the concept note is submitted?
No, match funding only needs to be confirmed for the first year at the point of grant confirmation, i.e. signature of Grant Agreement, and annually thereafter. However, we do look at the viability of the proposed sources of match funding during the proposal appraisal process.
- Is the minimum Impact grant request amount of £250,001 inclusive of the 25% match funding requirement?
No. The minimum grant request amount of £250,001 does not include the 25% match funding. The applicant would be expected to provide the minimum of 25% match funding on top of the grant request amount. This match funding requirement applies only to Impact grants.
- Does the 40% rule regarding the organisation’s annual income apply only to the funding provided by DFID, and not the total project budget?
Yes, that is correct. Total grant funding from DFID over the last 3 years must not exceed 40% of the organisation’s total income over the same period. On Impact grants applicants are expected to secure a minimum of 25% match funding on top of the requested grant amount.
- How does the 40% rule apply to consortia?
As UK Aid Direct has restricted its definition of consortia to ‘formal consortia’ only (see How to Apply section), the 40% rule will apply to the income shown in the accounts of the formal consortium members.
DFID funding rules prohibit an organisation from receiving more than 40% of its income from DFID grants in each project year. This will apply to each member of the consortium individually, so the applying consortium must be confident that each member will be able to abide by this condition over the lifetime of the UK Aid Direct grant.
- If you would like to re-submit the eligibility questionnaire, do you have to use a different email address?
The eligibility answers cannot be changed once submitted, as they determine whether or not an applicant can go through to the concept note stage.
Whether you submitted the eligibility answer incorrectly or whether your eligibility has changed, the only way to change responses to eligibility questions is to begin a new application. You can do this by logging in using the same email address, scrolling down to “Current Grant Windows”, and clicking “Apply” next to the grant you wish to apply for. You can then begin eligibility checks again and input accurate responses to re-check eligibility without using a different email address.
- Do I need to register each time I want to submit a concept note?
Applicants do not need to register each time they wish to apply for support. However, applicants are required to submit a new concept note/application for each funding round. Previous applications will not automatically be considered in a new funding round.
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The system will log you out after a while if you stay inactive and it may not be obvious to you that you have been logged out (for example, if you are logged in for over an hour without using the system at all). If you have been away from your login screen for an hour or more the best thing to do is log out and then log back in again to avoid information being lost. The system should save your application information as you provide it, so there is no risk in logging out. But it is always good to check that the information you provide is being saved.
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If you forget your password, the Login section of the website contains a ‘Forgot your password?’ link through which applicants can reset their passwords.
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