Community Partnership grant holder

If you are a Community Partnership grant holder, this guidance is for you.

Simply select the + sign on the right hand side to expand the sections and read further.

Don’t miss the guidance and templates you can download also in each section. These are designed for you to read and share with your colleagues and partners.

Due Diligence

After you have been informed that you have been awarded a provisional grant, your organisation will be required to undergo a financial management assessment (FMA). This will be conducted by an experienced member of the fiduciary risk team at UK Aid Direct. This must take place before your grant is approved and any funds are released – this process is known as due diligence and will initially take place either through a face-to-face meeting at your registered office or remotely via Skype / telephone, dependant on the type of funding applied for.

Initially, you will be asked to complete and return a self-assessment questionnaire, alongside supporting documentation such as your key policies and procedures. The questionnaire explores your organisation’s governance and internal control; your ability to deliver; the financial stability and downstream delivery partner management.

It is important to note that if you do not have all the funder requirements in place, we want to hear about it so that we can make suitable recommendations.

Please note: not having everything in place does not necessarily mean you would be unable to secure funding.

After the visit or call, the UK Aid Direct team will prepare and complete an FMA report. The draft report is sent to you to fact check and then submitted to the Department for International Development (DFID) for their consideration and grant approval.

If approved, your final FMA report will be shared with you so that, if required, you can put a plan in place to deliver against the recommendations.

Please note: these recommendations will become conditions of your grant arrangement.

After your grant is approved you will be allocated a Performance and Risk Manager (a PRM). They will be your point-person for UK Aid Direct and will support with the due diligence process, finalising your project design and providing guidance on your reporting requirements.


SMILE is our online system which you will use to report and evaluate your project. It is useful at this stage to familiarise yourself with the SMILE system as this will play a vital role in the management of your grant.

You can access the portal via the same login details used when you made your application.

If you have any questions, please contact our SMILE support team.


Grant set-up

Once you have successfully gone through the due diligence process, the next stage is grant set-up.

You will work closely with your Performance and Risk Manager (PRM), our technical advisors and the fiduciary risk team, to ensure your project design is robust and has appropriate monitoring and evaluation measures in place to deliver results and impact.

The process will involve two meetings to discuss your project design:

  • One focusing on the technical design of your project, like monitoring and beneficiary feedback
  • The other focusing on the financial compliance side of project set-up, like budget and special conditions.

Key states to grant set-up

StageWho’s involved?What happens?
Technical design reviewProvisional grant holder, Performance and Risk Manager (PRM) and Technical AdvisorsYou will receive a technical design report with feedback from our technical advisors on the technical design of your project.
The report will be discussed in detail during a technical design meeting (which can take place in person or via WebEx).
Following the meeting, any required changes to your project design will need to be submitted to your PRM and technical advisor for review.
Financial design reviewProvisional grant holder, PRM and fiduciary risk team (FRT)
A meeting will take place to review your budget, workplan, and financial management assessment report (also known as an FMA)
Following the meeting, any required changes must be submitted to your PRM and fiduciary risk team for review.

*Please note: the technical design and financial reviews happen concurrently and where possible, we will try to have both meetings at the same time.
Design approvalProvisional grant holder, PRM and FRT
Once both the technical design and financial reviews have taken place, all revised documentation must be approved by your PRM and the FRT.
Accountable Grant Arrangement (also known as AGA)Provisional grant holder, PRM and Grants Officer (GO)
Once your project design (and supporting documentation) has been signed off, you will move to the signing of your AGA. Our GOs will support with this process.
Branding and communications webinarGrant holder and Communications Specialist
Once you have signed your AGA you will be invited to join a communications and branding webinar. The communications team will explain the steps required to announce your grant and the communications support available to you.

*Please note: you cannot announce your grant publicly without approval from the Communications Specialist.
ImplementationGrant holder and PRM
Once your AGA has been signed, you are ready to commence implementation. Your point-person will be your PRM.


Technical design review meeting

You will receive a technical design report, which provides detailed feedback from our technical advisors on your application and project design. This will be shared shortly before the technical design review meeting where you will discuss the feedback in detail with our technical advisors and your Performance and Risk Manager (PRM). In the meeting, you will cover the topics outlined below and discuss how your project will be delivered from a technical perspective:

  • Logframe
  • Theory of Change
  • Risk register
  • Beneficiary feedback mechanisms
  • Value for money
  • Sustainability
  • International Aid Transparency (IATI)
  • Organisational Capacity Assessment Tool (OCAT)
  • Monitoring plan.

If there have been changes in the context since your application, these will be discussed.

At the grant set-up stage, your application on SMILE will transition to ‘set-up’ which means questions will be available related to the technical design of your project. You will be required to complete this after the technical design meeting, at which you will have discussed in detail, all aspects of the SMILE form.

Financial design meeting

The financial design meeting, with your PRM and the fiduciary risk team, focuses on reviewing both your budget and workplan, alongside any conditions outlined in your financial management assessment (FMA) report. Your FMA report will be uploaded onto SMILE, which contains ‘special conditions’ – these are requirements that must be met either before or during the inception period of your grant and the FMA report will clearly outline what is required and by when. It is essential that you review these conditions and act. An example might be that you are required to have a procurement policy in place before the accountable grant agreement is signed.

Your budget and workplan will also be reviewed in the financial design meeting, to discuss your financial management processes, delivery chain management and organisational capacity to deliver. Below outlines the key topics for discussion during the financial design meeting:

  • Budget
  • Workplan tracker
  • Delivery chain map.

Accountable grant arrangement (AGA)

An accountable grant arrangement is drafted and agreed following the approval of your design documentation and FMA report.

The AGA will have details of all the special conditions that have been highlighted in your FMA report which require actions.  These are listed as they are mandatory compliance as part of your grant agreement and must be completed in their allocated time frames.

Funding claims are paid in arrears unless a request is made for advance payments and the organisation meets the necessary criteria. Requests should be made following final confirmation of funding and only after the due diligence process has concluded.

At this stage, you may also be looking to formalise your partnerships with downstream partners and other stakeholders with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Guidance to download


Between being provisionally awarded a grant and your accountable grant arrangement being signed, the communications team at MannionDaniels will get in touch with you to request images and copy for use on this website, for social media posts, and for sharing with our colleagues at DFID.

You will also be invited to attend a webinar which is designed to help you understand what we can help you with, how you can prepare for announcing your grant, and for UK aid branding guidance.

Only after an organisation has signed their grant agreement should a project be publicised.

Communicating a grant award should only happen once the Department for International Development (DFID) or UK Aid Direct has announced it.

Your communications team will keep you updated with this and if you have any questions, please contact the team.

Asset management and disposal

As part of your project you are likely to be purchasing equipment or supplies. The guide below will help you to manage these in line with DFID’s requirements.


Throughout your UK Aid Direct grant, you will be required to report back on the progress made at different stages. Below we’ve provided an overview of the reporting requirements.

You will be required to report on a quarterly and annual basis.

Quarterly reporting involves submitting both a narrative report and a financial report. Your PRM will be able to provide additional guidance on this.

All grant holders must also submit a financial claim every quarter and there are two claim windows available each quarter to allow for some flexibility with planning and reporting. Further guidance on financial claims can be found in the section below.

All grant holders are also required to submit a self-assessed, annual review of performance against targets, in April of each year of the grant life cycle. This provides the opportunity to delve into your progress and discuss – with your PRM and technical advisor – how your project is delivering, discuss challenges and successes, and make relevant changes where necessary. You will receive more guidance on the annual reporting process from your PRM.

Financial reporting claims calendar 2018/2019

Claim periodFinal claim deadlineEstimated payment date
Quarter 1
(April - June)
18 April12 - 15 May
16 May12 - 15 June
Quarter 2
(July - September)
17 July12 - 15 August
15 August12 - 15 September
Quarter 3
(October to December)
17 October12 - 15 November
14 November12 - 15 December
Quarter 4
(January to March)
17 January 12 - 15 February

Further guidance on financial claims can be found in the Financial Claims section below.

International Aid Transparency (IATI)

You will be required to publish your project data to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) platform, within six months of the start of your Accountable Grant Agreement. This IATI platform looks to improve aid transparency to increase aid effectiveness. DFID requires all projects to publish certain elements of data to the registry.

If you have any questions related to IATI publishing, please contact our team.

Organisational Capacity Assessment Tool (OCAT)

MannionDaniels has developed an organisational capacity assessment tool which is designed to support grant holders in identifying areas for improvement, progress in achieving value for money and guide the UK Aid Direct team in developing tools to support your project implementation.

You will be required to submit your complete OCAT on an annual basis.


The UK government hosted the Safeguarding Summit in March 2018 where the Department for International Development (DFID) announced that they would put in place new, enhanced and specific safeguarding standards for UK charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

As part of your due diligence assessment you will be required to meet these safeguarding standards. Once you are awarded a grant it will be your responsibility to work with your partners to ensure DFID’s safeguarding and due diligence standards are met.

The DFID standards cover policies and processes across six key areas:

  • Safeguarding
  • Whistleblowing
  • Human resources
  • Risk management
  • Codes of conduct
  • Governance.

You can use the guidance below to provide your partners with details of the new standards. It includes how they will be used in enhanced due diligence assessments (DDAs) to assess an organisation’s ability to protect from sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, the children, young people and vulnerable adults they work with as well as their own staff and volunteers. Your Performance and Risk Manager (PRM) will also be able to advise you on this.

It your responsibility as a grant holder to report safeguarding incidents or concerns to DFID, as soon as you become aware. This can be done by contacting MannionDaniels directly by emailing UK Aid Direct or by contacting DFID directly.


UK Aid Direct has a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and fraudulent behaviour that may lead to misuse of grant funds and is committed to creating an environment in which you feel able to report fraud directly to your Fund Manager.

MannionDaniels has engaged Expolink, a whistleblowing and fraud service provider to support you with this. It is an anonymous, free-to-call and confidential service. To report an incident concerning suspected misuse of funds, visit this website link.

Financial claims

On UK Aid Direct we follow the standard DFID financial year, from 1 April to 31 March.

You will have a set annual budget against which we will monitor your claim for funding, and this is submitted on a quarterly basis.

Most grant holders will receive payment in arrears, however there are certain conditions under which grant holders may apply to receive payment partially in advance. If you would like to request payment in advance, please speak to your Performance and Risk Manager prior to your grant commencing.

You will submit your claim through SMILE alongside your (quarterly) financial and narrative reports.

There are two opportunities every quarter to submit: the first or the second month of each quarter. The deadline for submission is outlined below, and please note that if this deadline is missed there is no opportunity for us to process your claim until the following quarter.

Claim periodFinal claim deadlineEstimated payment date
Quarter 1
(April - June)
18 April12 - 15 May
16 May12 - 15 June
Quarter 2
(July - September)
17 July12 - 15 August
15 August12 - 15 September
Quarter 3
(October to December)
17 October12 - 15 November
14 November12 - 15 December
Quarter 4
(January to March)
17 January 12 - 15 February

When submitting your claim, please ensure that all spend at individual transactional level is reported, with information being gathered from your implementing partners (if applicable). It is important that we can understand – from your claim and financial report – where the money has been spent.

Once submitted, your claim is processed by our fiduciary risk team and once approved, payments are usually *made within approximately 30 days.

*see calendar

View a list of our current Community Partnership grant holders here