Key Actions by:

Standard 8: Timely and comprehensive project financial set-up.

Set up a project financial management system based on updated activity plans that supports a quick start-up and effective financial management throughout the project.

Review the draft donor agreement to make sure that CRS can meet the donor's financial requirements.

  • Why

    The donor agreement is a legally binding document. Signing an agreement that includes financial requirements that CRS cannot meet puts the agency at risk and undermines CRS’ project management credibility. Signing an agreement with financial requirements that are unclear or difficult to meet can also create significant project management and donor relationship challenges. Careful review of the proposed financial requirements by subject-matter experts helps CRS identify risks, seek revisions as needed, and avoid future project management problems. 

  • Who

    • Primary responsible: Head of operations (HoOps), or finance manager (FM) if there is no HoOps, for country program-administered projects; IDEA staff for centrally-signed agreements
      • The HoOps or IDEA staff guides the draft agreement through the financial portion of the review and engages other relevant staff in the country program or Institutional Donor Engagement and Advancement (IDEA) department.

    Remember to engage the HQ Overseas Finance Grants Management Unit for draft agreements with terms inconsistent with the Minimum Standards for Agreement Financial Terms, and the Office of General Counsel for non-routine agreements valued at >$1 million and routine agreements valued at >$5 million, as per the Agreements Policy & Procedure.

  • When
    • Immediately after the donor shares the draft agreement

    TIP: When possible, request an example of the donor’s standard agreement template immediately after receiving notification of donor approval. This can help expedite CRS’ review and identification of potentially problematic financial requirements, even while the donor may be finalizing specific award details.

  • How

    The review of donor financial requirements is part of the overall review of the draft donor agreement and is conducted in accordance with the Agreements Policy & Procedure, including the APM.

    (Note: The steps below are written for the scenario of a country program-managed award in a country program with a HoOps and FM; adjust as needed, following the APM, if the award is managed elsewhere or if the staffing structure is different.)

    Follow these steps for a thorough review of proposed donor financial requirements:

    1. After receiving the draft agreement from the Agreement Owner, the HoOps and FM use the “Minimum Standards for Agreement Financial Terms with Donors” guidance to identify any deviations between the financial requirements in the draft donor agreement and CRS’ policy (e.g., Grants Accounting and Reporting policy), procedures, and preferences.
    2. The HoOps and FM share their analysis of the agreement against the “Minimum Standards for Agreement Financial Terms with Donors” guidance with the Agreement Owner.
    • The HoOps and FM discuss with the Agreement Owner if any other subject-matter experts need to participate in the review (e.g., HQ Overseas Finance Grants Management Unit), particularly if the HoOps and FM review identified concerns with the financial requirements proposed by the donor.
    • For draft agreements where financial reporting schedules or other financial requirements do not align with CRS policies and terms, the Country Representative (CR) will work with regional leadership and/or the donor relationship manager to negotiate a revised agreement if possible.
    1. The Agreement Owner sends a summary of the analysis of the draft agreement financial requirements, along with the ARS and Owner’s Agreement Review Checklist, to the next-level reviewer – i.e., the DRD/MQ. 
    2. The DRD/MQ performs a final check, and takes the lead on any additional reviews and approvals required by the Agreements Policy.

    TIP: If the donor is new to the country program, but not to CRS, reach out to another country program experienced in working with that donor, to better understand the implications of the donor’s financial requirements on project management. Talk to donor engagement staff and/or look at the donor institution record on Gateway to identify other country programs to consult.