Key Actions by:

Standard 1: Effective planning for quality project design.

Establish a robust proposal development team and a realistic timeline that follows standard CRS guidance for project design and ensures partner collaboration and support in the design process.

Confirm that funding is available to cover the project design and proposal development costs.

  • Why

    Project design and proposal development activities have costs that must be estimated, funded, and managed to ensure a quality design process. Identifying likely project design and proposal development costs and securing the resources to cover these costs prior to or at the beginning of the design process:

    • Enables CRS to properly staff the project design and proposal development team.
    • Helps the project design and proposal development team plan and implement quality design and proposal development activities.
  • How

    Follow these steps to ensure the proposal development team has the necessary financial resources to support quality project design and proposal development activities:

    1. The proposal coordinator works with other members of the proposal development team to identify and estimate all known costs associated with project design and proposal development steps outlined in the proposal timeline
    1. The proposal coordinator compiles costs into a budget organized by CRS cost category, and works with the FM to estimate the allocated direct costs based on the direct proposal development costs.
    • Note that CRS does not have a set template for preparing a proposal development costs budget; consider using CRS' Cost Application Guidance (CAG)  template as a starting point and see an example template under “Tools”.
    • Include brief but clear budget notes as needed for more complex costs (consider adding a “notes” column to the budget template).
    • Review the example budgets under “Other Resources” as needed.
    1. The proposal coordinator shares the total budget for project design and proposal development activities with the proposal decision-maker (and CR, if the CR is not the proposal decision-maker) for review and approval. 

    Opportunity-specific DSPN, or standard 1552 project number? For most projects, project design/proposal development teams will charge costs to the general country program (or regional) 1552 project. For large, strategic opportunities where significant project design and proposal development investment is required or where it is otherwise important to closely track and analyze opportunity-specific design and proposal development costs and return on investment, senior leaders may decide to set up a separate DSPN for project design and proposal development costs.

    1. If the estimated project design and proposal development costs exceed country program resources budgeted for business development activities, the CR consults with the region and if necessary the IDEA department, to identify other available resources. The proposal coordinator supports the CR to prepare and submit a formal resource request as needed (e.g. per regional reserve or OverOps growth fund application processes).

    For strategic, competitive funding opportunities which the country program may have been tracking over an extended period, the country or regional team may already have earmarked funding for anticipated capture planning and proposal development costs (e.g., TDY support, funding for assessment and design steps, etc.). In such cases, review the amount earmarked and confirm that it is sufficient in light of the budget estimates developed per the guidance above.

  • Partnership
    • CRS and each partner review the plan for the partner’s participation in project design and proposal development activities, based on the partner’s role (see Standard 2, key action 2 on including partners in key decision-making).
    • For local partners, depending on the partner’s proposed project role and physical location, as well as the CRS resources available for proposal development, the proposal development team must discuss with the proposal decision-maker (and CR, if not the proposal decision-maker) whether CRS will provide financial support to facilitate local partners’ participation in the process. The proposal decision-maker must clarify whether CRS will cover any partner proposal development costs, what level of funding may be available for this, and how CRS will cover partner costs (see next point), before CRS and partners develop budgets for partner project design/proposal development costs.   
    • The most common ways to cover partner costs include:
      • Direct payment: CRS directly pays for expenses like partner transportation, per diem, accommodation, meals at meeting venue, etc. (for example if partners must travel to participate in a design workshop). If taking this approach, CRS must follow organizational policies and procedures regarding procurement of goods and services. Partners would need to cover personnel costs for staff participation in design activities, as CRS could not cover partner personnel costs through this direct payment approach.
      • Agreement: CRS and the local partner sign a new agreement for the project design and proposal development process and associated costs. If taking this approach, the partner would be considered a sub-recipient and CRS’ sub-recipient financial management policy would apply.
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
    • Follow the same process when CRS is a sub-recipient.
  • Emergency projects
    • In rapid-onset emergencies, assessments and other activities which inform the development of new proposals also inform the ongoing emergency response. These activities and the staff time associated with them are often charged directly to an already-established emergency response project (which CRS may have set up using discretionary funding). In such cases, a separate project design and proposal development budget may not be needed.