4. Submission of proposals (narrative and budget)


  • Use correct donor formats and guidelines.
  • Ensure good coordination between the CO, the submitting CARE member and the donor during the proposal submission phase.
  • Conduct a preliminary review of potential financial and contractual issues.
  • Review PIFA and IPIA status.
  • Establish and maintain a tracking mechanism for all concept papers and proposals.

Effective donor contract management starts at the stage of proposal development and submission. This section covers the period when a project proposal is being prepared and reviewed prior to submission to the donor via the relevant partner CARE International Member for the project.

It is important that staff involved in contract management and compliance is engaged in this early stage to ensure that contract management and compliance issues are addressed throughout the project cycle. Doing so will help to minimise difficult contract management and compliance issues having to be resolved at a later stage.

It is also very important to ensure accountability that a clear document trail is maintained throughout the project cycle starting from the time the project proposal is prepared. The staff involved in drafting the project proposal may not be the staff who is involved at the time of signing the donor contract, and/or implementing the project and/or reporting on the project.

The guidelines in sections 4.1 to 4.4 should be following prior to proposal submission.

The CO must be sure to use the correct donor formats and guidelines. Always check with the CARE International Member that the staff drafting the proposal use the most recent and correct donor proposal formats and guidelines.

Information on many donor guidelines can be accessed at the CARE Regulations and Compliance Website http://www.carematrix.org/-check with the CARE International Member that the guidelines are appropriate in an emergency funding context and are up to date.

Review the donor guidelines to ensure that the CO can comply with pre-existing donor terms and conditions, and that these are taken into account when drafting the proposal. For example, the donor might require that all vehicles must be purchased from a manufacturer of a particular country region (such as within the European Union), and the cost of purchasing or operating may be higher as a result and will need to be budgeted for accordingly. Alternatively, a waiver might need to be sought and this would need to be included in the proposal.

Particular care should be taken when dealing with a CARE International Member or donor (or their emergency section) that the CO has not dealt with before or not recently. For example, do not assume common understanding of policies and procedures, or roles and responsibilities.

Submitting the emergency proposal requires good coordination between the CO, the submitting CARE International Member and the donor within very short time frames. To help coordination:

  • identify key contact people in the CO, CARE International Member and the donor (headquarters and field), and document contact details including out-of-office hours arrangements
  • establish clear arrangements for donor liaison between the CO and CARE International member as to who communicates to the donor about what, when and at what level (headquarters or field). There is a critical need for the CO and CARE International Member to coordinate and share their respective communications with the donor at headquarters and field levels
  • establish coordination arrangements between the CO and CARE International Member for proposal development, including who will complete what parts and who to include on communications. That is, who should be included on all communications regarding the proposal (either as the direct recipient or ‘cc’)
  • agree on a timetable and deadlines for proposal submissions, and allow adequate time and deadlines for internal processes such as providing inputs, reviews and sign-off of the proposal before submitting
  • remind the CARE International Member that they should advise and seek CO approval for all significant changes to the proposal (narrative and budget) before submitting to the donor
  • agree with the CARE International Member on any follow-up with the donor, and/or on preparations in case funding is approved.

At the proposal stage:

  • ensure the budget has been reviewed and checked by the finance unit to ensure all appropriate costs are included, and to check for any calculation errors (refer to Proposal design)
  • ensure that, if the project funding is approved, it is clear as to when expenses can be charged from. In particular, be aware if the signing date determines the start date of project activities
  • Be aware of the timetable for sign-off/donor requirement for contract turnaround.

Project Implementation Framework Agreements (PIFAs) and Individual Project Implementation Agreements (IPIAs) are the primary contractual documents between the CO and the CARE International Member that govern the CARE-specific conditions of project funding, i.e. within the terms and conditions of the donor contract signed by the CARE International Member. IPIAs are not used in all cases (for example, COs managed by CARE USA do not usually have IPIAs with projects funded by CARE USA), but are a routine requirement for project funding for many CARE International Members. In all cases, IPIAs are strongly recommended to document contractual matters between the CO and the partner CARE International Member. IPIAs are part of the CARE International Code, which states ‘if one of the concerned members expresses a desire for such agreement, the other parties involved are obliged to comply with this request’.

At the proposal development stage:

  • check that a PIFA (refer to Annex 10.4 PIFA) exists between the CO and the relevant CARE International Member. If required, prepare and arrange for signing. (During the emergency preparedness phase, check to ensure that PIFAs are in place with CARE International Members who are likely to receive the funding.)
  • establish in-principle agreement with the CARE International Member agreement on key financial and other contractual parameters that will be included in the IPIA. For example, matching funding, covering of CO costs/shared programme costs not covered by the donor, etc.
  • confirm that the CARE International Member will be able to meet its obligations under the CI Code (Annex 10.7) to ensure cash flow throughout the life of the project.