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E12 - 12 Ways to Review Donor Grants Solicitation Documents through the Lens of Monitoring and Evaluation

by Godfrey Senkaba
July 25th 2021
00:27:27
Description

Godfrey Senkaba discusses the 12 important issues a monitoring and evaluation specialist must look out for when reviewing donor grant Requests for Applications (RFAs) or Notices of Funding Opportun... More

this is the monitoring and evaluation boost. With God freezing kaaba. Every week we share tips and practical stories to help you master the monitoring and evaluation job and perform it to your best. If you haven't yet, please take a moment to hit that subscribe button so you're automatically updated about new episodes. And that way you can continue to grow your money career every day. It also helps to show your support to this podcast and improve its ranking on the platform. We really appreciate that effort. Now let's get started. Hi, my name is Godfrey saying cover your host monitoring and evaluation post. This is episode 12. 12 ways to review donors request for funding application documents through the lines of monitoring and evaluation. Episode 12 is part of a five series on how you a monitoring and evaluation specialist can contribute the organization's new business efforts. Each of the five episodes focus on a key stage of the program proposal development process for example, episode 11 focused on proposition that is the pre request for application phase.

Episode 12 focuses on positioning. This is the request for application phase. Episode 13 will focus on project proposal development Episode 14 will focus on proposal submission and episode 15 will focus on posed project proposal submission. In episode 11, propositioning I talked about seven best ways a monitoring and evaluation specialist can proposition for a new grand project proposal At the end of the grant application proposition. Face you should be familiar with the monitoring and evaluation guidelines, standards and policies of the donor targeted by organization. You should have a good understanding of your project or organization design, monitoring and evaluation capacity to bid for and implement a project for the targeted donor. This includes the organization systems, processes and structures for supporting effective measurement or evidence building in the proposed project, you should also be familiar with the capacity both numbers and quality of your local office that will be implementing the proposed project.

In addition, you should have gathered internal evidence of programmatic impact preferably support by current projects if applicable, you will use this information to justify your proposed interventions. Lastly, you should have collected information about new monitoring and evaluation tools, approaches of practices in the industry of programmatic sector of interest for the donor as a monitoring and evaluation specialists. You have done your work at propositioning phase and now you're quite confident that you are ready to respond to the donors application for proposals. Congratulations. Now the donor has published their request for funding or notice of funding opportunity. What is your role? How will you help your leadership team or proposal design team to make sense of the published request for applications but surely in monitoring and evaluation terms, this brings us to the second phase. In the proposal development phase which we normally call position and is the subject of this episode 12. When the request for application is published, how do you a monitoring and evaluation specialist add value during position in phase.

The donor has published their request for application and expect interest implementing partners to apply. The organization readies herself to prepare a bid or proposal in response to the donors. Grand solicitation documents. There are two major activities completed during the positioning phase and the monitoring and evaluation specialist may be involved. First is the review of the donor solicitation documents. That is to say the published request for application or notice of funding opportunity documents the outcome of this review is one of the key inputs into the second activity which we commonly call the goal or no go decision. This is the organization's choice of preparing a bid or proposal. In response to the grant application, notice your management or leadership team will want to hear from several technical and operations teams like finance contracts. Program operations technical specialists including monitoring and evaluation before they decide to apply as a monitoring and evaluation specialist. Your advice should be based on a well informed review of the grand solicitation documents to ensure good understanding of the implications for monitoring and evaluation in the proposed project.

Here are the 12 major ways you can review a grand solicitation documents or request for application through the monitoring and evaluation lens number one capacity and roll capacity in terms of time and staff and role in terms of who will be responsible for the monitoring and evaluation delivery pose for the proposal. Given your review of the request for application, particularly the associated monitoring and evaluation requirements together with the information you collected during the previous phase. The propositioning phase is the organization in position to prepare a competitive proposal. Again by capacity. We mean staff and their skills who will be assigned to support monitoring and evaluation deliver valuables for the proposal. Look at both headquarters and the local implementing team so that the leadership team understands the implications of capacity for monitoring and evaluation in there. Go or no go decision, advise them on what is possible for you to do or not to do depending on the role you take on the proposal development team based on the capacity of the organization and your review of grant funding application documents.

You will be in position to advise your senior leadership team on whether you will be the lead. A modest specialist for the proposal or you will provide quality review or third. As an option you will simply provide guidance and I will explain the three options lead. Lead means you will be the one to own the monitoring and evaluation function of the proposal including writing monitoring and evaluation section and any attachments such as law firms indicated jittery sheets, fear of change and the monitoring and evaluation plan. You take this role because the proposal has complexity that requires high skills or has a high budget or is of strategic interest to the organization or the local country team does not have a well experienced monitoring and evaluation team to oversee the monitoring and evaluation function for the proposed bid. Leading also means you need to put other priorities to save time for this bit. It also means that when you decide to take on the leader role, you need to highlight the organization the different priorities that need to be removed from you because you need to save on time.

So as your leadership makes the decision to go or not to go for this application, they need to be aware that you need to have time to commit to this exercise. Let's look at other role you might take on the role of review. Review means that a different staff or team other than you will draft the proposal sections on M and E and your role will be providing quality review on feedback. The monitoring and evaluation section of the proposal may be led for example by the country team or an external consultant and after the write them they will give them to you provide feedback on them and that the third alternative to your participation in the proposal development team based on the capacity assessment that you have done is guide where you judge that the request for the application doesn't require high monitoring and evaluation rigor or there is a good enough skills within the proposal design team to propose a strong monitoring and evaluation strategy. Therefore your role would be limited to providing guidance and templates ideally you review the notice of funding opportunity or the request for application, identify what is needed.

Right guidance on how they need to respond, adapt any templates that are available within the organization or the donor's templates and provide them to the proposal development team. So you're basically guiding them and this will take on limited level of effort on your part. So those are the three roles that you may suggest and each of them has consequences meaning that the senior this team needs to be aware of, how they are going to utilize you and what other options they have when they're making the go or no go. Decision number two formats and templates to use templates for proposals. Take time to design where available the process for responding to a grant application is made much easier. Will you need to design new formats or templates for using during the proposal design process? Ask yourself will you need primary data to inform the proposal design or the information provided in the request for application by the donor and what you gather during the propositioning faces adequate. The other constellations you might make is whether or not the donor has provided clarity on the templates they would like you to use or you need to adapt your own organizations templates.

Answers to these questions should provide your leadership team with good enough information for decision making, ideally whether to proceed or not to proceed. If it's going to take a lot of time to interpret and write templates and proposals. Your leadership team may need to decide whether they engage a consultant or they free you up so that they can still make this application. Now that you have a clear view of the likely monitoring and evaluation capacity and the time and the resources and the templates to use in the application process. Let us explore other areas of interest. As you review the request for application, please remember the primary interest of your review of the solicitation documents is to advise the management team on monitoring and evaluation for their go or no go decision secondly you review funding opportunity document in order to best prepare for the next phase. That is the proposal development phase and will recover everything in episode 13. Let's see other areas of interest as you go through the funding opportunity document three monitoring and evaluation plan.

Review the funding application document to specifically understand how the donor would like you to prepare the monitoring and evaluation plan. The M and E plan is arguably the most important deliverable in any application to the donor This because it summarizes the entire proposal measurement strategy. As you review the request for application. Reflect on the following questions. How does the donor need the applicants to present or describe the monitoring and evaluation approach methods or tools for the proposed project. How much space is available in the proposal format to describe monitoring and evaluation. I have seen some donors either preferring a brief description of the monitoring and evaluation plan as part of the technical narrative with the details put in the annex. Others prefer a separate annex on monitoring and evaluation. Besides, some requests for applications will combine learning as part of monitoring and evaluation. Others will require you prepare a monitoring and evaluation section or an X as well as a learning agenda or learning plan as a separate attachment altogether.

Number four. Review the application process to understand the programmatic theory of interest. How does the donor require applicants to represent the program design or because the description of the technical approach point to the need to use a theory of change logical framework results framework or a combination among others. Find out if the applicant will have to develop their own program theory or adapt the donors. Some requests for applications will state overarching theories of framework that a donor may want the implementer to adapt for their interventions. Sometimes the request for application may only focus on a specific pathway of change in a broader theory of change. Furthermore, not the context issues, target group and supporting evidence for the theory of change or pathway of change that you need to focus on. This is especially important to know because it informs any approaches that you might undertake in your application. In addition pay special attention to the naming and the level of results as different donors have different classification of results.

For example, an outcome level result for one donor, maybe a purpose or some purpose level result to another. And sometimes this may also be different from how you organization categorizes results. Number five. As you review the request for funding opportunity, ensure that you have a good grasp of the indicators and how the donor would like you to reflect indicators in your application, indicators are central to any project. Is measurement plans from the R. F. Find out if the donor has a specific set of indicators they want applicants to prioritize pay special attention to any set of indicators that the donor may specify as a must measure in your proposed project. Sometimes donors may provide a full list of standardized indicators that you need to measure or they may simply provide you guidance on where to find the detailed indicators. Others will specify if some of the indicators are only applicable. If you select specific interventions, just not all this down because there are certain decisions you might make in the next phase. Please. Not some donors may not have a standardized list of indicators but may prefer industry level indicators.

In fact, some of them will go to the extent of giving you examples. They normally call this illustrative indicators simply to guide you on the type and nature of indicators that they prefer for the proposed intervention. So by illustrative, the donor is only giving you examples. It is still your responsibility or your team's responsibility to justify these indicators in the proposed intervention. Just because the donor has identified indicators in the request for application doesn't mean that they should automatically go into the application justify them and wait one more issue to note about indicators beyond knowing what indicators will be provided for the proposed intervention. Find out how the donor expects you to present them in the proposal. This may include presenting the indicators as part of the log frame or adding a separate attachment altogether as an abridged indicator matrix to clarify the descriptions for the indicators as well as the method number six monitoring and evaluation budget. Find out what the request for application says about the costs for monitoring and evaluation.

You'll be lucky if the donor outline specific dollar figure to guide your monitoring and evaluation budget. Some public donors may set 3% to 5% of the total budget for monitoring and evaluation. Okay. You will be lucky if they actually expect you to budget up to 5% of more for monitoring and evaluation. And secondly also be very clear that your understanding how the donor would like you to reflect learning activities either as part of the monitoring and evaluation plan or to be proud to be planned for in a separate budget in other R. F. S. That have seen specification of the percentage for monitoring and evaluation may not be stated. You will need to rely on the past project implementation for this specific donor or your own organization guidance on budgeting for M and E. Irrespective you have to review the entire document especially the donor expectations for each and every component in the program. Designed to understand their biases and their preferences for monitoring and evaluation activities. Please not. If a separate monitoring and evaluation budget will be presented separately or as part of the entire project.

But lastly not in a gray areas for discussion with your proposal team actually the finance and contracts officers. These four issues that have just mentioned monitoring and evaluation plan program logic model indicators and budget are the most important to check out in any proposal solicitation document especially because they lead specific delivery bubbles submitted as part or alongside the project proposal. However beyond focusing on these four issues monitoring and evaluation plan program logic indicators and budget. You need to review the entire request for funding application to get insights on the likely technical approach and potential impact on monitoring and evaluation appear additional issues to consider when reviewing the donors solicitation documents. Many of these should give you a broader perspective for the proposed program and how to design a monitoring and evaluation strategy. Well seven background and context information. Review the background information that describes the problem and issues justifying this application.

Not the key issues of problems who is affected where, How long and why is it a multifaceted problem normal sectoral problem or not. Who are the actors, what is being done today by whom among others answers to these issues will provide you a good lens as you approach problem analysis during the next proposal design phase. Please also note that the answers will help you validate the root cause analysis that might be done by the program team or with your leadership during the next phase of the proposal design process. Number eight. As you review the request for funding application or notice of funding opportunity, be sure to understand the activity objectives and any important strategies that the proposed project has to align to review the goals and objectives which need to be addressed in the proposed project. Most importantly, understand the rationale behind those objectives and the high level objectives they are connected to. It is not uncommon for the donor to reference the high level objectives, which new applicants for which new applications of projects will contribute to. This could be the donor agencies high level program strategy.

It could also be a donor's programmatic objectives under which this activity falls. In addition, there could be other strategies of programs that the proposed project must align to. As you review this area. Be sure to understand how different objectives or high level objectives will connect with the lower level objectives, especially the activity objectives which will inform your proposed project intervention. For example, a donor may specify that a project will be implemented in let's say Tanzania. And let's say this for a Jamais. Let's say this project is in the food security sector. It is important that you understand for Tanzania, Ministry of Agriculture and their strategies. It is also important to understand if this Ministry of Agriculture has specific indicators they need to measure or if they have specific interventions, the country has identified posting livelihoods of their citizens better. Still is important to know whether the local you say the mission, let's say for East Africa has specific strategies for livelihoods. Sometimes the low commissions will have more contextualized objectives and preferences.

Many of these may be stated in the air and it's your responsibility as well as that of your technical teams to understand that these objectives and ensure that the proposal you come up with is well aligned. So the different strategies and frameworks are referenced by the donor and for which you're programmed objectives have to align may have their own monitoring and evaluation strategy number nine point of change for the proposed activity, find out the level at which the proposed activity is expected, correct? Who it is supposed to change. This could be individual household, community and all institutional levels or a combination of individuals and households or households and communities. This is important to help you in working with the proposal development t on the right target for project activities, framing the project objectives as well as setting performance indicators and measuring change. Don't take it for granted. Sometimes it's not clear who the donor wants you to take for a particular intervention. Be sure as you're reviewing this, identify who is the unit of change and ensure that as your design the proposal in the next phase it is very clear that you are targeting them.

If the project is expected to work at individual household level planning for participant identification and registration and tracking should be central to your monitoring and evaluation system. Let me repeat this. If for example you have identified that it for this specific application the donor would like you to target individuals. It also means that you need to plan for a monitoring and evaluation system that will register individuals and track their participation as well as measures change means that you need to plan for a specific database that will allow for this to happen. Sometimes it's expensive sometimes it's not but to the best of your ability ensure that you understand the implications of the unit of change and how this affects your measurement system. Number 10 partnering specifically possibility for partnering on monitoring evaluation and learning read through the background sections and see if there are implicit requirements for the proposed project to actively work aligned with specific partners or partner activities. This may include the local government where the project is going to be implemented. Development agencies, community based organization, think tanks universities among others.

There are implications on how monitoring and evaluation will be. For example, alignment of the proposed project monitoring evaluation learning systems with those of the local government linkages with the monitoring and evaluation system of partners, involvement of local partners in monitoring and evaluation actually data collection, involvement of local partners in data collection among others. This is what it means about partnering. It's not only partnering at activity implementation level but also partnering for M and or using monitoring and evaluation farmer or strengthening the partnership. The extent of these partnerships on monitoring and evaluation learning maybe solidified in the overall proposed program at approach but just be aware and ensure you discuss the implications with the program design team decisions on where the organization may be the leader for the proposed monitoring and evaluation. According to share the role with partners may have to be made. It is not uncommon for organizations to assign operational research studies learning agendas or periodic surveys to another partner based on their ability. Your management team may need to hear your interpretation and evaluation of the possible partnering approach on monitoring and evaluation.

Please don't deny them this opportunity as they make the decision to partner or not partner. Number 11. Be sure to understand the quality review process that the donor will follow to assess your application, identify the process that the donor will follow in assessing the quality of the application that your organization will make and advise management on the capacity time and other resources. Recent request for proposals do outline the process is the donors will follow to review underworld ground. This includes a review of the quality of the proposal submitted by the implementer as co creation between the donor and the partners and then a refine and implementations phase. Actually, during the first year of project implementation for example, the State Bureau for humanitarian Assistance outlined a very elaborate process. There will be following in reviewing applications made in lieu of the fy 2020 developmental security activity for Ethiopia. It described about stage review process with stage one including two phases and I would outline them for your stage one.

Bass one applicants submitted an initial application after review of the initial application. Those submissions with the highest evolution schools are invited to participate in phase two. Stage one, phase two applicants with the highest evaluations calls on this one are invited to participate in the representation of their proposed approach in Washington D. C. With the possible video conference. If you go through this, the next stage is co creation successful applicants from phase to participate in a joint co creation workshop which may include the donor government offices, the country where the proposed program will be implemented and others are determined. The next will be the final application phase. The Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance reviews the final full technical and cost applications and may request additional clarification at this point of review. Next is the award phase. The final full technical and cost application is review and incorporated into resulting cooperative agreement and award is drafted and submitted to the apparently successful applicant for review and execution. Lastly, is the refine and implementation phase during the coast a word refine and implementation phase.

New order. These are expected to carry out traditional startup tasks and additional refine and implement related activities. As agreed as you can see some donors no longer take only one process of reviewing the application and then providing feedback. Whether or not you have qualified to implement the activity. They will go through a process and this process involves you working with them in a corporation. The bottom line for scrutinizing the ref through the monitoring and evaluation lines is to know which monitoring and evaluation activities and requirements and needed. Which phase of the request for funding application process. This will help you not to underestimate or overestimate is miss what is relevant, thereby undermining the quality of the entire application process. Lastly, number two. As you review the request for funding application, ensure that there is consistency in what is suggested for monitoring and evaluation. Please note that the donor may include a specific section on monitoring and evaluation or you may have to review the entire document, understand what is expected moreover, the donor may make references to other major document to provide you better guidance on their provide monitoring and evaluation strategy.

Just be sure that whatever the donor has written in this request for funding application is consistent with what they have reference. Otherwise, if there are any inconsistencies or any issues that are not clear, please write them down and discuss them with your manager or the proposal design team. Remember just because the request for funding application had some gaps or inconsistencies. If you don't bring this to the donors attention, the donor or the reviewer of your funding application may not excuse. You're misinformed monitoring and evaluation approach. You cannot say that you couldn't provide a competing proposal. Just because there were gaps in the request funding application, the donor's always give us an opportunity to clarify and ask questions. In conclusion, there are 12 ways to review a donor grant request for application document using the monitoring and evaluation lens. The 12 include capacity time and your role formats and templates to use expected monitoring, evaluation and learning plan likely programmatic theory or logic indicators, monitoring and evaluation budget, background and context information proposed project objectives and framework aligned point of change for the proposed activity possible partners for monitoring and evaluation, application quality review process.

And lastly it's your opportunity to always ensure that the entire request for funding application is consistent once you review an application through the lens of monitoring and evaluation the next proposal development process which is proposal development of project design is much easier if you do a good job understand and interpret the don't actually station document like a request for applications and provide you insects to management to inform their goal and no good decision the development of a competitive application will almost be 50%. All right, folks. Go ahead and enjoy the positioning process of the proposal application process. This is it for today. You next time. Thank you for listening to the monitoring and evaluation boost. With Godfrey sent Kaba. Please let us know your comments or any topics you would like to hear and please check out our website www dot M and E boost dot com. If you have comments about this episode or experiences you would like to share regarding the ideas discussed in this podcast. Please let us know again.

Please visit our website to share. That's W W W dot M and E boost dot com. Thank you.

E12 - 12 Ways to Review Donor Grants Solicitation Documents through the Lens of Monitoring and Evaluation
E12 - 12 Ways to Review Donor Grants Solicitation Documents through the Lens of Monitoring and Evaluation
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