Standard 10: Laying the foundations for effective donor engagement and accountability.
Lay the foundations for successful donor engagement throughout the project.
Submit high-quality start-up deliverables to the donor on time.
The quality and timeliness of start-up deliverables influence the donor’s perspective about a new project and CRS’ capacity to manage it effectively. Donors often require multiple deliverables simultaneously or in rapid succession during the initial start-up period. These can include a finalized detailed implementation plan (DIP), a baseline study (terms of reference and/or report), a branding and marking plan“Branding and marking” is a USAID term; other donors may use different terms for requirements related to acknowledging donor sponsorship of the project. Per USAID, “Branding” refers to how a program or project is named and positioned, and who funded it; it identifies the sponsor of the work. “Marking” refers to applying graphic identities or logos to program materials or project signage to visibly acknowledge contributors; it identifies organizations supporting the work. or other plan for donor recognition, and various MEAL deliverables. Establishing strong processes for developing and reviewing start-up deliverables helps ensure CRS:
- Submits start-up deliverables on time.
- Presents the required information in an appropriate format.
- Uses the start-up deliverables to advance the donor’s understanding of and engagement with CRS around key project issues.
- Primary responsible: Project manager/chief of party (PM/CoP)
- The PM/CoP has primary responsibility for ensuring the quality of start-up deliverables.
- Others involved: Project team, including program, operations, and senior management team (SMT), and IDEA staff as applicable; regional technical advisor for MEAL
- Project team members from program, operations, and the SMT play a critical role in developing and reviewing start-up deliverables;
- IDEA staff clarify award deliverable requirements, review, and submit the final deliverables for centrally managed awards;
- The regional MEAL advisor reviews MEAL deliverables per CRS’ MEAL policies and procedures.
Project team member involvement varies depending on the required deliverables, but often includes the head of programming (HoP), head of operations (HoOps), finance manager (FM), any project MEAL staff, the country program MEAL coordinator, and procurement and supply chain management staff.
Per donor requirements (as summarized in the project Award Management Deliverables CalendarThe Award Management Deliverables Calendar is an "at-a-glance" tracking tool that summarizes information about deliverables (e.g., technical and financial reports; MEAL documents such as Terms of Reference and evaluation reports; detailed implementation plans or project work plans, etc.) that CRS must submit to the donor under the terms of the donor award.
Follow these steps to prepare high-quality start-up deliverables:
- During the project start-up workshop and initial project team meetings, the PM/CoP leads the project team in:
- Reviewing the early start-up plan, the Donor MEAL Requirements Checklist (see MEAL Procedure 7.1), and the Award Management Deliverables Calendar.
- Identifying a responsible project team member for each start-up deliverable (in some cases, the PM/CoP may be the person responsible).
- The PM/CoP or IDEA donor engagement staff contacts the donor, if needed, to clarify templates and expectations for the start-up deliverables, if these are not clear in the agreement.
- The PM/CoP discusses each start-up deliverable with the person responsible for preparing it, to ensure common understanding of:
- Deliverable requirements, including the appropriate template.
- Key messages to highlight, if possible given template requirements and any other restrictions (see Standard 10, key action 4).
- CRS and donor quality expectations (for centrally managed awards, discuss donor expectations with IDEA staff).
- Working backward from the deadline for submitting the final draft deliverable to the PM/CoP (e.g., at least several days before the donor deadline), the PM/CoP works with the individual responsible to develop a schedule for preparing the deliverable. This schedule must incorporate:
- The agreed process for drafting the deliverable (or refining a draft developed through a collaborative process), including receiving inputs and/or feedback from partners.
- The agreed process for internal review and finalization of the deliverable, and deadlines for reviews needed at the country, regional, and/or headquarters (HQ) level.
Plan carefully for thorough internal review, revision, and time to address unexpected problems in the submission process: Schedule ample time for reviews of deliverable quality, including MEAL advisor review of MEAL start-up deliverables (e.g baseline Terms of Reference), per CRS MEAL procedures 1.2 and 3.3.MPP 1.2: MEAL advisors review key MEAL documentation prior to submission to donor as a means to improve quality practices.
MPP 3.3: Regional MEAL advisers review baseline and evaluation ToRs to improve evaluation quality and ensure appropriateness to information needs. For centrally managed awards, allow sufficient time for IDEA staff review of deliverables, with time for revisions before the donor deadline. Build in an adequate buffer for submission before the deadline, especially if the donor has a complicated online submission process or a submission process that is new to CRS.
- The PM/CoP reviews the drafts and coordinates subsequent SMT (e.g., HoP, HoOps, FM) and IDEA review of the start-up deliverables, using the Checklist for High-Quality Communications and Submissions to DonorsThe Checklist for High-Quality Communications and Submissions to Donors is a checklist of brief questions for preparers and reviewers of documents submitted to donors, aimed at ensuring overall document and communications quality (format and content). .
- The PM/CoP works with the person responsible for each deliverable to address reviewers’ feedback and finalize the deliverable per the schedule developed under step 4.
- The PM/CoP, or IDEA staff, submits the start-up deliverables to the donor on time and per the format required.
- The PM/CoP or IDEA staff uploads submitted deliverables to the Gateway award record.
When CRS is a sub-recipient
- CRS and partners work collaboratively to generate most start-up deliverables (e.g., DIPs, baseline terms of reference, other MEAL deliverables).
- If additional partner inputs and/or feedback are needed on draft deliverables, CRS works with partners to develop a timeline for partner submission of inputs or feedback, and incorporates this under step 4 above.
- Follow the same process, under the direction of the prime.
- Follow the same process for emergency projects. Timeframes and templates may differ for emergency projects.
Tools and templates
Checklist for Review of Evaluation Terms of Reference (from CRS' MEAL Policies and Procedures site)
Donor MEAL Checklist Template (from CRS' MEAL Policies and Procedures site)
Review checklists for project MEAL documentation (from MEAL Procedure 1.2)
Policies and procedures
POL-OOD-PRG-008: MEAL Policies and Procedures, specifically procedures 1.2 and 3.3
- Primary responsible: Project manager/chief of party (PM/CoP)