UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) for NGO

The fifth round of United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) is open to accepting applications from 15 November 2010. Established by the UN Secretary-General in 2005 as a United Nations General Trust Fund, UNDEF provides grant support to projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes.

UNDEF provides grants ranging from US $50,000 to US $500,000 for a two-year project in one or more of six main areas of community development, rule of law and human rights, tools for democratization, women, youth and media.

UNDEF supports projects which either take place in one country only, or occur in several specified states of a region or sub-region or intend to operate at the global level. UNDEF will reserve at least 70% of its programmable resources in each funding round for projects taking place in one country and will allocate no more than 30% to global/regional projects.

Civil society organizations, NGOs independent and constitutional bodies such as election commissions, national human rights organizations etc and global and regional inter-government bodies, organizations and associations are eligible to apply for the Fund. While applications from all countries will be considered, strong preference will be given to applicants from countries and regions where the challenges of democracy are more critical, such as countries emerging from conflict, new and restored democracies, the Least Developed Countries, Low-Income countries and Middle Income Countries.

Applications have to be submitted online (either in English or French) through the On-line Project Proposal System (OPPS) available at the UNDEF website. The URL for same is

The deadline to submit the applications is 31 December 2010.




These guidelines have been developed to assist civil society organizations whose proposals have been "approved in principle" by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) in preparing a detailed project document.


Only upon the successful negotiation of a project document will a grant be awarded to an applicant.


The project document should be completed and sent to UNDEF within six weeks of notification of the "approval in principle". Failure of the applicant to comply with this deadline may result in UNDEF not proceeding with the project.


The project document should not exceed ten pages in length (excluding annexes) and should follow the structure and templates indicated. Please read these guidelines carefully and be as concise and precise as possible. Ensure that the information provided in the various project document sections is consistent. A solid draft project document leads to the smooth negotiation of the project and rapid release of funds.


The project document and all reports and correspondence must be in English or French, the official working languages of the UN Secretariat.


1.     Cover Page (max length: one page)


Please use the Cover Page format provided in Annex II. Complete all sections. Kindly note the project summary should be a brief paragraph of about 5 lines containing the project's main objective(s). The cover page should be signed by the authorized person in the Implementing Agency but left undated.


2.     Executive Summary (max length: one-half page)


Please provide a clear and concise (3 paragraphs) Executive Summary of the project which can be used in UNDEF publications and presentations. The Executive Summary should give a general overview of the project and in particular should indicate the following:

-         the problem(s) the project is attempting to address;

-         the project objective(s), i.e. the aim of the project;

-         the project strategy;

-         the project partners and co-funders, where applicable.


3.     Situation Analysis, Project Strategy and Sustainability (max length: two pages)


a. Situation Analysis


This section should describe:

-   the overall democratic context (including the institutional and legal framework, as applicable);

-   the specific problem(s) the project is attempting to address (background facts, and statistics can be included);

-   the intended project beneficiaries;

-   why this problem is particularly important and deserving of UNDEF support.



b. Project Strategy


This section should clearly describe what the project intends to do and how it intends to do it, including:

-   the project strategy designed to achieve the project objective(s).

-   a clear presentation of the different steps involved in the proposed strategy, and an explanation of how these steps will directly tackle the problem(s);

-   a description of the key activities to be undertaken;

-   the underlying assumptions necessary for the project outcomes to be reached;

-   the risk factors that may cause the project to fail or fall short of its objectives, as well as measures that will be undertaken to address or mitigate these factors.



c. Sustainability


 This section should:

- describe how the project outcomes will be sustained beyond the UNDEF funding period;

- describe the activities and/or steps planned for ensuring the sustainability of the project and/or its results in the long-term;

- explain the impact that the project is expected to attain


4.     Gender and Marginalized or Vulnerable Groups (max length: one-half page)


Please explain in concrete terms how the project will address the concerns of women and/or other marginalized/vulnerable groups and how it will directly or indirectly benefit them.  


5.     Results Framework: Activities, Outputs and Outcomes


The results framework aims to provide a detailed, logical, chronological and organized picture of the project design. It is the detailed roadmap of the project implementation.


The results framework approach uses specific concepts. To assist the preparation of this document please refer to the glossary in Annex I and ensure that the project strategy is explained as follows:
Activities                             Outputs          Outcomes              Impact

Please develop a results framework outlining the project's intended activities, outputs, outcomes, objective(s) and budgetary inputs. Indicate the project milestones, the project timeline and the project partner(s) responsible for carrying out each project activity.  The required results framework template is provided in Annex III.


·        The information contained in the results framework should correspond to the narrative description of the project in section 3. Any discrepancy or inconsistency between the narrative and the results framework will delay the project negotiation.

·        The budget figure should be consistent with the budget provided in Annexes IV and V. The results framework will assist both UNDEF and the grantee to determine the funding required to reach the various milestones.

·        While there is some flexibility in presenting the project strategy in the results framework, please note that all the required information should be completed.


6.     Management Arrangements, Milestones and Disbursement Schedule (max length: one page)


a. Management Arrangements


This section should describe in detail the project management arrangements and responsibilities of the Implementing Agency and all other project partners. Please note that the Implementing Agency will be responsible for contracts with any implementing partner(s) or individuals involved in the project.  In most cases, disbursement of tranches will be made on a predetermined schedule based on the completion of project milestones (see below). The Implementing Agency will be responsible for managing any financial disbursements to the implementing partner(s) or individuals as per implementation arrangements or payment schedules concluded between them. All such payment arrangements need to be noted in the project document at the outset of the project.


b. Milestones and Disbursement Schedule – Read carefully


You will receive the grant in tranches, linked to project milestones. A milestone is a significant and observable activity such as the holding of a training course, the drafting of a publication or manual, or the launching of a specific process or product. It should be formulated as distinct from your normally scheduled project activities, and will be monitored by an independent entity appointed by UNDEF. Most projects will have four milestones: the first one is the signing of the finalized project document, and the last one is the final reports. The other two must be defined and articulated by you in the project document.


The first tranche will be disbursed once the project document has been signed. It will be sufficient to cover start-up costs.


Release of each subsequent tranche will be contingent upon:

·        The successful completion of a project milestone;

·        The successful monitoring of the above milestone by an UNDEF-designated monitor;

·        The submission of a certified financial statement reflecting the amount spent to date.

Please note that a significant amount of your tranche must be spent before the next tranche is disbursed.


In line with the project strategy, please develop in the project document a milestone disbursement schedule using the table below and the following instructions:

·        Milestone 1 always consists in the project document's signature;

·        Milestone 4 is the submission of the final narrative and financial reports;

·        Identify two additional milestones (milestones 2 and 3) that are observable key activities taking place during the project's implementation. Ensure that these milestones are sufficiently spaced apart during the project implementation period (ideally one per year of implementation);

·        Note the month in which each milestones is planned and the corresponding tranche amount. UNDEF prefers that each tranche amount be reasonably balanced (e.g. about 30% each). Kindly round figures to the nearest US$1,000;

·        Ensure that the milestones chosen below are in accordance with the results framework (Annex III).


*** It is the grantee's responsibility to choose carefully the milestones' dates and tranche amounts and to ensure that an appropriate amount of money is available to carry out the planned activities between two milestones. Any change in the project schedule which would affect the disbursement schedule has to be notified to UNDEF as soon as possible and before the next milestone is planned in order to discuss alternatives.***



7.     Partnership and Donor Information (max length: one page)


a. Funding Sponsors

Please provide:

·        Details of other funding sponsors in relation to this project, if applicable. Include:

·        Sponsor's name and funds contributed;

·        Whether the funds are parallel, matching, or follow-on;

·        Also mention any funding that is being sought but not yet secured at the time of the project document negotiation.


b. Implementing Partners and Contributions

Please provide details on the current Implementing Partners and their respective roles in the project implementation. The intention to identify and work with additional Implementing Partners after the project document negotiation has been completed should also be indicated. Details of these additional Implementing Partners should be communicated to UNDEF at a later date.


In-kind contributions to the project by the Implementing Agency or Implementing Partners should also be indicated in this section.


Finally, provide, as an annex to the project document, contact information for all project partners as outlined in Annex VI.



8.     Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation* (max length: one page)


a. Monitoring


Project monitoring should be done in several ways:


1) The Implementing Agency must monitor its own activities.  Please indicate how this will be accomplished and who in the Agency will act as the focal point.


2) UNDEF will appoint a representative to monitor project milestones 2 and 3. This person or entity will bear no responsibility for any aspect of the project. For this purpose the Implementing Agency is requested to submit the information on the milestone (e.g. date, venue, and agenda) 2 months in advance so that UNDEF can arrange the monitoring visit. To that effect, there is a statement in the legal commitments (Annex VII) attesting that the Implementing Agency will assist and cooperate with the UNDEF-appointed monitor. As mentioned in Section 6, once the milestone has been verified/observed, and the requisite certified financial statement (showing that a significant amount of the previous tranche has been spent) has been submitted, the next tranche of funding can be released as per the disbursement schedule.




b. Narrative and Financial Reporting


Implementing Agencies are responsible for submitting a number of reports. Please indicate the point of contact responsible for submitting the Mid-Term Progress Report, Final Narrative Report and certified financial reports. Financial audits must be conducted by an external and independent entity, such as a chartered accountant or a financial consultancy firm.


Three financial reports, certified by an independent auditor, will have to be submitted to UNDEF during the project implementation period:  after milestone 2, after milestone 3, and finally at the end of the project. Please provide the name of the external, independent entity responsible for financial auditing and certification of reports. Costs for such auditing and certification should be included in the project budget (under "Miscellaneous").


When sending the project document, the Implementing Agency must also provide:

·        Annual reports, including operating budgets and audited financial statements for the last two (2) years;   

·        A letter from an auditor stating that the Agency has the requisite financial systems, internal controls and capability to manage project funds. A sample of the required "comfort letter" is attached in Annex VIII.


c. Evaluation and Baseline Data


UNDEF is responsible for devising the project evaluation modalities, with input from the Implementing Agency. Evaluations will be undertaken by independent consultants.  In some cases, the evaluation will be commissioned by UNDEF, in other cases the Implementing Agency will be requested to commission an independent evaluator who will be paid by UNDEF.


10% of the grant amount (up to a maximum of US$ 25,000) will be retained by UNDEF to pay for the representatives appointed to monitor milestones and to evaluate the project.


The Implementing Agency is responsible for collecting baseline data to be used for the evaluation. Baseline data are collected prior to the commencement of the project to serve as the starting point for measuring performance. They provide a measurable way of looking at the specific situation in place at the project's inception.  


Baseline data must relate to project activities; for some projects this may require national statistical data, for other projects it may require local data. Data may be in the form of statistics or, where these are not readily available or not appropriate, in the form of an assessment of the specific situation the project is dealing with.  In this section:

·        Present the baseline data gathered for this project consistent with what is indicated in the results framework. If it is not currently available, please indicate the type of data and how it will be collected.

·        Provide any relevant additional information about the project evaluation strategy.


Additionally, in the results framework, please indicate the baseline data available for each intended output. If not available, provide a short description of the situation.



For example:


1) A project whose objective is to increase the participation of indigenous populations in elections may show as baseline data that only 10% of the indigenous population in town X is registered to vote.  The project will enable indigenous voter registration and then at the end see if the increase in voter registration has led to an increase in indigenous voter participation in elections.


2) A project whose objective is to empower women to take part in local politics may show as baseline data how many women are involved in politics at the community level.  After the project has taken place, we need to see whether that figure has increased.



9.     Legal Commitments (max length: one page)


All project documents must contain the set of legal commitments outlined in Annex VII as a final attachment.  These commitments cannot be modified.



10.    Budget)


The Implementing Agency is required to present the project budget in three ways:


a) Project budget by activity in the Results Framework (Annex III)

Please refer to section 5 and Annex III of this document for additional information.


b) Project budget by resource/input using the Excel template (Annex IV)

Please prepare a project budget by input using the Excel budget template (Annex IV), also available on the UNDEF website. The budget must be sent electronically to UNDEF in Excel format along with the project document.


c) Detailed breakdown of the project budget by resource/input (Annex V)

The Excel version of the project budget by input (Annex IV) should be further broken down, detailing the different resource/inputs lines. This should be prepared using the template provided in Annex V. Add as many lines as necessary for each of the categories.


Please note that the total UNDEF grant amount is broken down as follows:


Total UNDEF grant amount = Total project cost s+ M&E component retained by UNDEF (10% capped at 25,000 USD*)


All budgets should be in US Dollars and should not exceed the grant award amount. Fluctuations in exchange rates (either up or down) will not result in a modification of the total grant amount. Kindly round all figures, preferably to the nearest US$100.


UNDEF funds projects, not CSOs, and expects the bulk of the grant to be used for project delivery.

As far as budget allocations are concerned, UNDEF anticipates that salaries would be a modest component in relation to the other budget items. Rent for office space should also be a modest component of the budget. Kindly note that audit costs are part of the 'Miscellaneous' expenditure category and must cover the preparation of Financial Utilization Reports (FURs) after the completion of milestones 2 and 3 as well as the final audit. Finally, UNDEF does not normally approve the purchase of motor vehicles.


***Budgets that are incomplete, inconsistent or not in the right format will not be accepted and will delay final approval of the project document***


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