+ Fundraising lexicon
A lexicon of terms relevant to applying for media development funding and journalism support in alphabetical order.
The section that each term belongs to in brackets.
EU guidelines go into some detail about affiliated entities.
They may be entities controlled by the applicant (daughter companies); entities controlling the applicant (parent companies); entities under the same control as the applicant (sister companies); or members of the applicant’s network, federation or association (if the applicant has this status).
Activities are the basic workstreams of a project which are physically implemented according to an agreed timeline.
In media development projects, common activities include training workshops, programme production, website development, discussion forums, legal drafting, collective lobbying, networking and study tours.
Activities are quantifiable and time-bound. They are also fully costed.
Alternatively, activities may be grouped according to phases of an implementation cycle, running consecutively or concurrently.
In principle, the advantage of including associates in a bid is that they demonstrate the applicants have strong links to local actors who have the potential to strengthen the credibility or broaden the outreach of an action.
The fact that such organisations are unable to receive project funding generally means that this status is of interest only to state-funded institutions or organisations benefiting from other grant programmes in the same thematic area.
The EU definition of associates is woolly. Associates are organisations or individuals who “play a real role in the action but may not receive funding from the grant, with the exception of per diem or travel costs”.
Project authors are encouraged to recognise and document the factors that should be in place for a project to be viable.
According to the EU, the assumptions are
Usually based at the implementing organisation’s headquarters, the backstopping team supports the implementation team which, in most cases, is based in the field. It can comprise senior managers and executives as well as logistics officers, technical staff and finance personnel.
Typically, responsibilities include recruitment; strategic oversight; briefing, contracting and deploying short-term consultants; knowledge management; and partner liaison. The backstopping team deals with contractual issues, including agreements with consortium partners.
It is, therefore, used to measure change and monitor progress over the project lifecycle and is often assembled in the opening phase.
Monitoring and evaluation programmes need a starting point, a baseline against which progress can be measured. Sometimes this data is available from third-party sources but, for the most part, baseline research needs to be bespoke and properly geared to the anticipated results and targets of a programme.
In behavioural change communications, for example, the research may need to establish existing attitudes towards a target issue so that future waves of polling can establish whether or not these attitudes have changed as a result of the intervention.
This is probably the most common method for allocating funding for media projects. Donors launch a formal call that is based on key strategic goals and priorities.
An organisation’s capability statement provides the donor or potential partners with an insight into its main areas of expertise and recent track record as well as its human and technical resources.
It should be relatively short (no more than a page) and capture the salient features of the organisation’s core business.
Examples of past performance included in a capability statement should be succinct and should be carefully selected to illustrate the required areas of expertise.
It is worth remembering that, in all proposals, donors are looking for reassurances that a potential implementing partner has
- The systems in place to manage contracts of a similar size and complexity;
- A reputation for excellence, innovation and thought leadership in the target theme(s);
- A sufficiently diverse portfolio that does not suggest over-reliance on one donor or funding source;
- A deep understanding of the operating environment.
Thus, capability statements should be tailored for each bid.
For the purposes of implementation, co-applicants generally sign a legally binding agreement with the lead partner that stipulates their role and budgetary allocation whilst also reflecting the contractual obligations between the lead partner and the Contracting Authority.
Some programmes – particularly EU grant contracts – include a requirement for a certain percentage of the budget to be contributed from another source.
The rules for what this source can be are defined in the Terms of Reference but, in general terms, co-funding is derived from other donors and/or from the implementing organisation’s own financial resources.
Contributions in kind are usually not acceptable forms of co-funding since all expenditure (whether it is covered by the grant or not) needs to conform to the accountancy standards set by the main donor.
In other words, if a donor is providing 80% of the funding, then the implementing organisation will need to demonstrate that it has spent 100% of the direct costs in order to receive the full amount of the 80% contribution.
Co-funding is a divisive issue since it presents a major challenge for those organisations which do not have their own financial resources or an institutional sponsor that it is willing to cover the shortfall.
Donors argue that co-funding reflects faith in a project and a commitment to shared responsibility.
Too often, funding applications are rejected because they are not “compliant” with the rules and criteria set out in the Terms of Reference or submission guidelines. Several donors run compliance checks before applications are presented to the evaluators or evaluation committee.
These checks will include:
- the eligibility of the applicants (particularly nationality and legal status)
- the amount of funding requested
- co-funding requirements
- the inclusion of signed declarations or commitments
Proposals which fail the compliance checks may be immediately rejected – although some donors may ask for supplementary information if they are unsure whether or not certain criteria have been met.
Applications which do not respect the submission deadline are automatically rejected and there is little or no value in contesting this outcome.
It is, therefore, vital to study the instructions in detail and draw up a checklist to make sure that you have covered all the bases. Do not assume that a specific donor’s guidelines are always the same – eligibility criteria, for example, can vary from one programme to another.
This is a 4-5 page document setting out the fundamental ideas and approach for a project as well as describing any formal partnerships that are integral to the project design.
Concept notes are usually requested as the first stage of a grant application process, thereby giving donors the chance to short-list those proposals which, in their view, best reflect the goals and priorities of the programme.
Donors encourage implementing agencies to recognise and avoid the dangers of exacerbating the tensions or deepening the fault-lines that exist in post-conflict societies.
This is a key risk for media development projects operating in such environments, especially those where media has traditionally played a key role in fanning the flames of resentment or distrust.
Conflict-sensitive projects should include an in-depth analysis of dividers and connectors in the conflict environment which will, in turn, help to shape the intervention strategy.
In broad terms, the strategy should consider ways of ensuring the proper inclusion of diverse stakeholder groups in all consultation processes; equitable participation in project activities; monitoring to capture changes in the operating environment; and the consideration of conflict-related issues in organisational practices (e.g. recruitment and security).
Donors encourage applications from consortia formed for the purposes of the contract. In some cases, the other partners may be “jointly and severally liable” which means that responsibility for delivery is borne equally by the consortium members.
The value of a consortium-based approach is that it brings together organisations with complementary skills and experience, thereby ensuring that the key work streams benefit from each member’s expertise and credibility in the given subject area.
Some donors allow for a set amount of contingency funding to be included in a project budget.
EU budgets, for example, allow for up to 5%.
Recent templates suggest that many EU programmes have phased out the contingency allowance.
A contingency plan should look at multiple scenarios whilst mainstreaming measures for safeguarding the project’s reputation and credibility.
These plans are live documents that should be reviewed and updated as a project unfolds.
Projects that are funded by multiple donors are still likely to have one main funder who requires adherence to a specific set of rules aimed at ensuring proper stewardship and accountability.
Implementing agencies may be able to call on contributions from third parties which do not have a financial value attached but which, nevertheless, enhance the perceived benefits of the intervention.
Definitions of “contributions in kind” tend to be hazy.
The common wisdom is that these contributions relate to any services provided to a project which have indeterminable costs and which, therefore, cannot be supported by specific financial evidence.
Contributions in kind are particularly relevant in programmes which require a percentage of co-funding.
Institutional or core funding is the Holy Grail for most development organisations, be they charities, NGOs or foundations.
Core funding gives organisations greater space to invest in business development, research, policy-making, communications and other areas which are challenging to include in project budgets.
It insulates them from the economic impact of sea changes in the donor landscape or from the peaks and troughs which are an inevitable feature of not-for-profit operations.
Very few donors offer core funding opportunities; more often this kind of financial support is provided by governments, endowments or affiliated organisations.
Cost-share is a principle favoured by US donors and has similarities with the EU concept of co-funding. However, cost-share is more aspirational than co-funding.
At the proposal stage, applicants are asked to demonstrate a commitment to covering a percentage of the project’s costs from other sources.
Such commitments are usually the subject of a cost-share plan which forms part of the application. The plan should provide “realistic, manageable, and allowable” estimates of direct contributions from participating organisations or leveraged funding from other donor sources.
The definition of allowed costs is much broader for US funding than for it is for, say, EU programmes. Cost-share might include volunteered time and facilities, donations of air-time or advertising space, or donations of commercial products and services.
While projects often comprise a set of linear or concurrent activity streams, there are likely to be elements that are relevant to multiple activities. Gender mainstreaming is a good example since a focus on the equality or empowerment of women stakeholders could be integral to a training programme and a production component that is part of the same project.
It is a product or service that the implementing agency has undertaken to deliver within a specified timeframe and for a specified budget.
Supporting documentation is required for all direct costs in the form of payroll slips, receipts, invoices, itemised bills and direct debit payments. Where the input of salaried personnel is concerned, donors may require timesheets detailing days worked on the project.
Donors will expect applicants to reference appropriate measures in project proposals and, where relevant, to disaggregate indicators in order to reflect the impact on key identity groups.
The OECD provides the following definition:
“Doing no harm essentially means that external intervention does not undermine state-building processes. [International actors] can inadvertently do harm when the resources they deliver or the policy reforms they advocate exacerbate rather than mitigate the conditions for violent conflict, or they weaken rather than strengthen the state as a site of decision-making and policy formation over the deployment of public resources”.
Increasingly, donors require assurances regarding protection from violence, exploitation and abuse through involvement, directly or indirectly, with their suppliers and programmes.
“to avoid doing harm by ensuring that our interventions do not sustain unequal power relations, reinforce social exclusion and predatory institutions, exacerbate conflict, contribute to human rights risks, and/or create or exacerbate resource scarcity, climate change and/or environmental damage, and/or increasing communities’ vulnerabilities to shocks and trends. We seek to ensure our interventions do not displace/undermine local capacity or impose long-term financial burdens on partner governments”.
Do No Harm policies should look at areas such as staff conduct, local ownership, inclusion, diversity, conflict sensitivity and mechanisms for dealing with complaints.
This extends to contracted personnel, partner organisations and participants in project activities.
Duty of care plans should be equitable, offering similar levels of support to local as well as international stakeholders.
They cover issues such as risk assessment, physical security, digital security, safety training, knowledge management, emergency protocols, contingency plans and roles and responsibilities.
Contractors are often required to include a statement that they have a duty of care to informants, other programme stakeholders and their own staff, and that they will comply with ethical principles in all programme activities.
Adherence to this duty of care should be included in interim reporting.
Most funding programmes have strict eligibility criteria determining which organisations (or individuals) are able to apply for grants.
Typically, the criteria will include nationality (e.g. the country in which the organisation is registered) and legal status but they may also include requirements for applicants to demonstrate that they have delivered projects of a similar size, value and complexity in the recent past (often three years).
Donors do not make exceptions for eligibility criteria since they are fundamental to their commitment to fairness, openness and transparency. Consequently, they should be strictly adhered to.
Generally, these are determined by the generic headings presented in budget templates but further guidance may be provided for the avoidance of doubt.
These may be renegotiated during the contracting stage.
Common examples of ineligible costs include debt service charges, currency exchange losses, credit to third parties and the salary costs of public servants.
Credible endline research will need to target the same identity groups as the baseline research, although it will aim to differentiate between those who have been exposed to the programme outputs and those who have not.
Evaluation usually comprises objective quantitative and/or qualitative research aimed at ascertaining whether or not a project has met its declared targets (as established through indicators for success).
Examples include opinion polls or sectoral surveys as well as analysis of audience figures or online traffic.
This is effectively the cost of the audit(s) which the implementing consortium is contractually obliged to conduct according to a specified schedule.
The release of further funds is often contingent on the results of the audit.
In addition, bidders may be asked to meet a set of criteria that demonstrate they have experience of delivering a programme of a similar scale and an equivalent value, possibly also in a comparable environment.
A fees-based budget presents a simplified approach to both budget design and financial reporting. The costs of a project are structured according to an agreed number of working days and each working day is given an agreed value.
The value (or rate) is usually determined by the bidder and varies according to categories of expert (e.g. Key, Senior, Junior etc).
The rate is “loaded” which means that it should cover the actual cost of the expert (i.e. the consultancy fee) and the management overhead.
During the implementation phase, contractors report against the delivery of these days by providing signed timesheets detailing the number of days worked by each expert over the course of a month.
Additional documentation such as evidence of travel and payments may also be required.
The EU offers the following definition:
“those who will benefit from the action in the long term at the level of the society or sector at large”.
Two examples from media development projects:
Final beneficiaries will typically be specific audiences or representatives of identity groups targeted by programming.
However, in the scoring matrix, the weighting usually is placed on the Technical Offer, meaning that bidders with a very strong proposition may not feel the need to make an economically advantageous bid.
Increasingly, major donors have channelled funding through framework contracts which are essentially lists of preferred suppliers.
Once the list of contractors has been determined, ad hoc opportunities are channelled through the framework contract and the preselected organisations or consortia can decide whether or not to bid for them.
These opportunities are not open to organisations outside the framework. Application procedures are usually simplified and lead-times are often very tight.
Gender considerations are mainstreamed in the vast majority of donor-funded programmes but the desired approach is often misinterpreted.
Equality is not as simple as ensuring that groups of participants are properly balanced between men and women or that research efforts will ensure that 50% of respondents are women.
Inclusion is important but empowerment and decision-making are also key factors.
Donors also want to see proposals that break gender stereotypes by putting women in non-traditional roles and that promote equal opportunities in recruitment drives.
Grant contracts are managed by the grantee who is required to report back to the donor according to a structured schedule but who can make decisions regarding implementation and expenditure without referring to the donor provided that agreed parameters are observed.
The rules for incidental expenditure are usually detailed in the Terms of Reference and include areas such as travel, the cost of holding events, research studies, graphic design, technical development, translation and visibility materials.
It is not possible for contractors to charge a management fee against incidental expenditure and financial reports need to include detailed documentary evidence of the actual costs incurred.
A contract amendment is required to transfer funds from the incidental expenditure budget to the fees-based budget. It is not possible to transfer funds in the opposite direction.
EU service contracts also include a set allowance for incidental expenditure which relates to all costs outside the fees-based part of the budget.
Also called “objectively verifiable indicators” (OVIs), indicators provide donors with a yardstick for assessing the actual impact of a project. Indicators are usually linked to both outcomes and outputs and are, perhaps, most useful when they incorporate a numerical value (e.g. a percentage or a quantity).
According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: