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.
Financial guidance for Community Partnership grant holders is distributed throughout this page according to what is being considered at the time. For example, under the header ‘grant set-up’ you can find the UK Aid Direct guide to budget classification and budgeting or under the header ‘reporting’, you will find the UK Aid Direct guide to the principles of reporting. However, to make things easier for you we have also grouped all the key financial guidance documents into this one section below.
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, 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.
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:
|Stage||Who’s involved?||What happens?|
|Technical design review||Provisional grant holder, Performance and Risk Manager (PRM) and Technical Advisors||You 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 review||Provisional 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 approval||Provisional 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 webinar||Grant 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.
|Implementation||Grant holder and PRM||Once your AGA has been signed, you are ready to commence implementation. Your point-person will be your PRM.|
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:
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.
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:
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).
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.
A requirement of holding a UK Aid Direct grant is that grant holders identify, manage and record any risks that could impact on the implementation or results of their projects. UK Aid Direct grant holders are required to use DFID’s standard risk register template when reporting their risks on a quarterly basis.
Please review the UK Aid risk webinar and risk podcast below, for guidance on best practice risk management and reporting.
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.
Monitoring and evaluation (M & E) is a critical process, helping improve performance and achieve results.
In this M&E podcast (opens in a new window), we interviewed Community Partnership grant holders, African Initiatives (opens in a new window) on their approaches to data collection and effective beneficiary feedback mechanisms for their projects in northern Tanzania. We asked how they ensured high quality, consistent data and how they use it to inform programming. The importance of community-led feedback, data disaggregation and intersectionality is highlighted, as well as behavioural change monitoring and some overall advice for new and existing grant holders.
On our grant holder SoundCloud channel (opens in a new window) you can also listen to further podcasts on managing risk, as well as partnerships.
Throughout your UK Aid Direct grant, you will be required to report on progress at different stages. Quarterly progress reporting (QPR) involves submitting both a narrative report and a financial report directly onto the SMILE portal every three months.
Within the narrative report you are required to analyse and assess project progress and provide updates on key elements. There is a strong focus on learning and reflection to assess performance, inform future programming and encourage effective delivery.
Alongside the narrative questions within the SMILE portal, you are required to submit the following documents with the narrative report:
Guidance on completing the narrative report is available below.
Alongside the narrative report, grant holders must submit a financial claim every quarter. For quarters 1 to 3, there are two claim windows available to allow flexibility with planning and reporting. Further guidance on financial claims can be found in the section below.
Reporting calendar 2020/2021
The table below provides the quarterly reporting timelines for all UK Aid Direct grant holders:
|Claim period||Reporting deadline|
|Qtr 1 (Apr - June)||17 April
|Qtr 2 (Jul - Sep)||17 July
|Qtr 3 (Oct - Dec)||16 October
|Qtr 4 (Jan - Mar)||18 January|
Further guidance on financial claims can be found in the Financial Claims section below.
UK Aid Direct grant holders are required to submit an annual report at the end April for each project year, aligning with DFID’s annual financial year end.
The annual report is an opportunity to reflect on key achievements, challenges and learning from the past year to assess overall project progress and ensure the project is on track to meet its objectives. The follow-up to the annual review will include a detailed technical feedback report, and a de-brief meeting with the performance management team to discuss findings and agree actions to support adaptive management.
The annual report (including all supporting documentation, as outlined in the guidance) should be submitted to email@example.com copying the Performance and Risk Manager on (or before) Thursday 30 April 2020. Please note that documents should not be submitted on SMILE.
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.
MannionDaniels has developed an organisational capacity assessment tool (OCAT) designed to help grant holders (and partners, where applicable) identify areas for improvement and progress, and to achieve value for money with their project. It is also intended to work as a guide to the UK Aid Direct team, so that the right guidance tools to support with project implementation can be developed.
You are required to submit your complete OCA within three months of the start of your project, and then with every annual review.
To learn more, listen to a recording (opens in a new window) of our OCA webinar for grant holders, hosted on 17 September 2019 and download our guidance documents and templates below.
A link to the OCA tool is provided in page 1 of the written guidance below. Please review this full guidance before following the link to complete your OCA.
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:
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 (opens in new window) 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 Expolink (opens in a new window).
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 period||Final claim deadline||Estimated payment date|
|Quarter 1 |
(April - June)
|17 April||12 - 15 May|
|15 May||12 - 15 June|
(July - September)
|17 July||12 - 15 August|
|14 August||12 - 15 September|
(October to December)
|16 October||12 - 15 November|
|13 November||12 - 15 December|
(January to March)
|18 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.