Key Actions by:

Standard 5: Early engagement with donor to inform design.

Engage donor prior to and (as possible) during project design and proposal development to encourage a manageable and realistic project scope, budget and timeline in line with donor priorities.

Ensure that the project activities schedule, staffing plan, and budget take into account the donor's decision-making processes and timelines, as well as compliance considerations.

  • Why

    Just as CRS has internal processes, rhythms, and requirements, so do donors. Donor processes, requirements, and preferences—e.g., proposal review procedures, and timelines for negotiating agreements, approving awards and/or approving requests or deliverables—can have a significant impact on the timing of project activities. This in turn affects when CRS should recruit project staff, plan for budget expenditures, and set programmatic targets, etc. Complying with donor requirements can also impact travel costs, CRS operations staffing needs, and other inputs. Identifying and factoring in donor timelines, compliance requirements, and preferences in proposal activities scheduling, staffing planning, and budgeting:

    • Creates a more realistic and feasible budget and activity schedule.
    • Helps CRS to staff the project appropriately to meet donor expectations and requirements.
    • Adds to the credibility of CRS’ proposal by demonstrating our understanding of donor needs and requirements.
    • Demonstrates to donors CRS’ thoughtful approach to project management and our commitment to accountability.
  • Who

    • Primary responsible: Proposal coordinator
      • The proposal coordinator is responsible for ensuring that the proposal development team has information about, and understands, the donor’s processes, timelines, and requirements and incorporates these into project design and proposal documents.

    • Others involved: Proposal development team (technical, human resource, and budget leads); field and headquarters (HQ) procurement and supply chain management staff; field and HQ risk and compliance staff; IDEA staff
      • The proposal technical lead drafts the proposal activities schedule based on this information;
      • The proposal budget and human resource leads ensure appropriate budget and staffing planning based on donor considerations;
      • IDEA staff and field and HQ procurement, supply chain management, and risk and compliance staff provides any additional information on donor processes, timelines, and requirements.

  • Partnership
    • Review with partners any donor processes and timelines that will affect the overall project implementation timeline, especially those related to the anticipated timing of donor funding. These may in turn affect the timing of partner activities, and partner human resource and budget planning (see Standard 2, key action 2 for guidance on including partners in decision-making).
    • While compliance-related activities are typically included mainly in CRS’ portion of the budget, ensure partners are aware of compliance requirements that may affect the overall budget and allocation of resources between CRS and partners.
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
    • The prime should provide guidance and instructions for any donor-related considerations that CRS needs to consider when planning and budgeting for activities. If the prime does not provide this information, request it.
    • In some cases, CRS may have equal or greater knowledge of donor processes, timelines, and requirements. If this is the case, CRS should discuss these insights with the prime to ensure that the overall project activities schedule and budget take these into account.
    • See below for considerations when CRS is a sub or receives pass-through emergency funding.
  • Emergency projects