Putting Partnership back at the Heart of Development
Putting Partnership back at the Heart of Development: Canadian Civil Society Experience with CIDA’s Call‐ for‐Proposal Mechanism, Partnerships with Canadians Branch
Survey BackgrounderIn July 2010, the Minister of International Cooperation, the Hon. Beverley J. Oda, established new funding mechanisms for Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) through Partnerships with Canadians Branch (PWCB), moving from responsive programming to a competitive process. In January 2012, the Canadian Council for International Co‐operation (CCIC) and the Inter‐Council Network of Provincial/Regional Councils for International Cooperation (ICN) undertook a detailed survey to assess the experience of CSOs with six call‐for‐proposal competitions and to evaluate the impacts on the sector.
Survey Backgrounder (con’t)The survey had five goals:• Map the outcomes of the various calls‐for‐proposals and share these with our constituencies;• Assess both the positive and negative aspects of the new process, including the outcomes from the new mechanism; • Draw concrete recommendations that can be presented to CIDA and other key decision makers to improve the competitive mechanism or to re‐evaluate the use of the competitive process;• Use the findings to develop a collective response for the sector to the current challenges faced by organizations with this new system; and,• Identify a network of organizations that would be willing to share their lessons learned with others on their submissions.
The RespondentsThis report is based on the responses of the 158 organizations that participated in the survey.109 proposals (52.4%) out of 208 presented to the Under and Over $2 million competitions are included in the survey. This makes it a significant sample of those most directly involved in and affected by the calls‐for‐proposals mechanism.
The Respondents (Con’t)60 7050 6040 50 4030 3020 2010 10 0 0 No 1‐2 3‐5 6‐15 More Paid than Staff 16Number of Respondents by Staff Size Number of Respondents by Income Scale
Outcomes of the Call for Proposals• Close to 25% of the 158 respondents had not applied to any of the competitions, either • More than 70% of the sample because they already had an applied to one or more of the six active contribution agreement PWCB competitions. with CIDA or because they were planning to do so in the future. • Organizations that applied to more than one competition were notably • A smaller number (11,7%) of more successful than those that organizations that didn’t apply applied to only one. say they no longer plan to seek funding from CIDA or found the • Both the staff size and total income new funding of an organization also correlate with mechanism success. too much work for the • Fifteen organizations reported that expected they had submitted proposals as a outcome. consortium and of these, only two were successful.
Outcomes of the Over/Under 2 M Calls• For the “Under $2 million” competition there was a much • For the “Under $2 million” larger number and proportion of competition, size and income scale unsuccessful proposals are less correlated to success. • The analysis of the “Over $2 • Almost all the proposals in both million” and “Under $2 million” competitions had a very high results highlights the importance concentration in CIDA’s thematic of staff size and income scale, priorities but less in the countries of particularly for the former focus competition.
Impacts of the Call for Proposal System The vast majority of respondents raised serious concerns over a range of significant and negative impacts of the new call‐for‐proposals mechanism, including:Reduced credibility of the Pressure to change the A heavy investment in organization with partners organization’s priorities in proposal development, and volunteers because of order to meet criteria and including consultants, the delays in funding the need for an overseas consultations, announcements, lack of “acceptable” proposal, with no assurance of any success, very significant including restructuring positive outcomefunding disruptions and a overseas partnerships;reduced ability of the organization to program effectively;
Impacts of the Call for Proposal SystemMore emphasis on Need to restructure the Reduction or end to long‐fundraising in a difficult organization, including standing partnerships environment, with 18% of reduction in staff and (reported by 22 respondents having no idea overseas activities, due to organizations) abroad yet how they will make up an unsuccessful proposal. which are at the center of the loss of revenue from civil society’s approach and CIDA; unique contribution to development;
Impacts of the Call for Proposal SystemCuts to public engagement A chill on advocacy (PE) work, with 64% of activities as a result of the respondents indicating that widely shared perception they would not or could that CIDA looks unfavorably not replace previous CIDA on organizations that do funding for PE with their policy and advocacy work.own resources; and
Key ConclusionsA system that requires much improvementThe implementation of the new PWCB funding mechanism has been a difficult and challenging experience for most Canadian CSOs involved in international developmentPutting organizations, partnerships and development results in jeopardyThe sudden and drastic reduction of funds coming from CIDA – compounded by long delays in announcing funding decisions and the large number of organizations that were unsuccessful in seeing their proposals approved‐ has meant that dozens of Canadian organizations now have to reduce or end partnerships with local organizations in developing countries.
Key Conclusions (con’t)Canadian public awareness of and active engagement in global poverty issues is at riskThe sudden elimination of the 10% of budget previously allowable for public engagement workin the PWCB contribution agreement, and of long‐standing responsive public engagementfunding mechanisms will have significant and adverse effects on many Canadianinternational development organizations and their efforts to build awareness and sustainmeaningful engagement with Canadian citizens on global poverty issues.Recognizing the role of CSOs – development actors in their own right?Civil society organizations contribute to development in very unique, innovative and essentialways.
Key Conclusions (con’t)The domino effect of losing CIDA fundingThe loss of CIDA funding by so many organizations doesn’t just impact a percentage of an Organization’s budget: it will most likely have a knock‐on effect in terms of the amount of funds that organizations can subsequently leverage from other donors: multilateral, provincial, individuals, etc..Hitting smaller organizations harder: level playing field?Smaller organizations are being hardest hit by the new funding mechanism. The survey clearly shows that organizations that have fewer staff, lower budgets and limited capacity for producing proposals, are less successful with the new PWCB mechanism.
Key Conclusions (con’t)Learning from what worksIt seems that the specialized calls for proposals (Haiti, Muskoka) have worked better in terms ofturn‐around‐time and improving the system as it goes. We are hoping that the same happensfor the next round of calls for proposals for the Under and Over 2 Million projects.What happened to partnerships?In the new call for proposals mechanism, not enough value is put on trust and on pre‐existingrelationships between CIDA and Canadian civil society organizations, nor on existingpartnerships between Canadian organizations and developing countries organizations.
Main Recommendations# 1 Produce clear and predictable annual timetables# 2 Create a two‐tiered process# 3 Make sure that the calls for proposals are more inclusive# 4 Increase opportunities to engage with CIDA
Main Recommendations# 5 Establish a regular and formal mechanism for ongoing dialogue# 6 Engage in a national consultation with CIDA CSO partners on Public Engagement mechanisms# 7 Re‐establishing some responsive programming# 8 Improve the proposal guidelines
Main Recommendations# 9 Create greater transparency prior to and during the assessment process# 10 CIDA should organize capacity‐building training programs on the calls for proposals mechanism and competitive processes more generally# 11 Develop a CIDA policy on CSOs and development, both in Canada and abroad# 12 Undertake a full evaluation of the impact of the call‐for‐ proposals mechanism
How can CCIC and the Provincial/Regional Councils be Helpful?• Advocacy ‐ Respondents felt that the Councils are well‐positioned to represent the voices of smaller CSOs and their southern partners to CIDA. • Training ‐ Respondents wanted the Councils to provide training or education, particularly on proposal‐writing and navigating CIDA processes. • Communication ‐ Respondents wanted the Councils to communicate with members and keep them updated on developments in the granting process and on what is happening with CIDA. • Information and Analysis ‐ Further surveys and analysis by the Councils in order to collect aggregate information on behalf of the sector.