Addressing global challenges requires a collective and concerted effort, involving all actors. Through partnerships and alliances, and by pooling comparative advantages, we increase our chances success."
- Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

UNDEF Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We encourage prospective applicants to read UNDEF Fourth Round Project Proposal Guidelines as well as UNDEF's Feedback when preparing their application. If you do not find your answer below, please contact UNDEF at democracyfund@un.org.

ABOUT UNDEF

What are UNDEF's objectives?

UNDEF's primary purpose is to strengthen the voice of civil society and ensure the participation of all groups in democratic practices. The Fund complements current UN efforts to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide and funds projects that enhance democratic dialogue and support for constitutional processes, civil society empowerment, including the empowerment of women, civic education and voter registration, citizen's access to information, participation rights and the rule of law in support of civil society and transparency and integrity

Does UNDEF endorse one specific model of democracy?

No, the Fund does not support a single model of democracy. As echoed in the World Summit's Outcome Document (2005), as democracy is one of the “universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations”, it is not “owned” by any a single country or region, not does it follow one particular model.

Why was UNDEF established?

Democracy and democratization have long been part of the UN's overall agenda, as reflected in many UN documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Agenda for Democracy (1996) and the Millennium Declaration (2000) which put emphasis on popular participation in governance.

Specific entities of the UN System have been explicitly addressing these issues for some time, notably the UN Department of Political Affairs, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Development Programme.

In the wake of the UN reform, the wish to re-emphasize the importance of this issue and further develop efforts in this regard was materialized in the Secretary-General proposals to the 2005 World Summit. One of these proposals was the creation of the Democracy Fund at the United Nations, which was welcomed by Member States.

How does UNDEF work with other UN entities?

The Fund attempts to complement existing activities, and respond to requests that go beyond the reach of existing mechanisms. It works closely with other UN bodies to ensure coordination.

In order to do so, one of the key actors of the UNDEF's governance structure is the Programme Consultative Group (PCG). The PCG is composed of representatives from the UN Department of Political Affairs, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the UN Development Fund for Women, the UN Development Programme, the UN Development Group, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights giving substantive and scientific advice to the UNDEF Office and the Advisory Board on project proposals and funding criteria.

What are the sources of UNDEF's funding?

UNDEF is a voluntary fund, established as a Trust Fund by the Secretary-General under the UN Financial Rules and Regulations. For an updated version of the current funding, please refer to the Financial Contributors section of the UNDEF website.

Is UNDEF's funding subject to conditionality?

No, UNDEF will regularly call for proposals and these will be selected and decided on their merits. The Project Proposal Guidelines, however, specify certain eligibility criteria for funding and underline specific considerations also taken into account while selecting the received project proposals.

UNDEF aims at supporting action-oriented projects that promote democracy and whose outputs would strengthen, for instance, the relations between Civil Society and Governmental Bodies, the inclusion and participation of marginalized segments of society and vulnerable groups, or foster South-South cooperation.

On the contrary, UNDEF gives low-priority to activities where a substantial part of the budget covers institutional recurrent costs and/or personnel costs, official/UN travel and/or conference services, or research activities.

For more detailed information, please refer to the Fourth Round Project Proposal Guidelines available from this website.

Could UNDEF funding be used as a tool for political interference?

The purpose of the Fund is to build capacities for democratic governance, especially at the country level. This can only be done effectively in a supportive institutional environment. Activities funded by the UNDEF will not be imposed on a country. The approach will be one of cooperation and support. <

What are the organizational arrangements for UNDEF?

The Democracy Fund has its own Executive Head and staff. The Executive Head reports directly to the Advisory Board on substantive matters and reports to the Executive Director of UN Office for Partnerships for administrative purposes.

UN Office for Partnerships provides the necessary administrative and financial support in a cost-effective way.

Who can submit project proposals to UNDEF?

UNDEF finances projects primarily carried out by civil society organizations as well as independent constitutional bodies, regional and international organizations. UNDEF aims to support action-oriented projects to bring about measurable and tangible improvements in democracy and human rights on the ground, thereby translating the concept of "democracy" into practical solutions for people to have their voices and choices heard.

More detailed information on funding priorities and on how to submit project proposals is available in UNDEF Fourth Round Project Proposal Guidelines.

FUNDING APPLICATION

WHEN TO APPLY?

Do you accept applications throughout the year?

No. UNDEF accepts applications during a call for applications period which takes place once a year during the fall/winter. It is usually announced on the UNDEF homepage a few weeks before the opening of the call. The next application window for the Fourth Round of funding will open on 16 November 2009 and will close on 31 December 2009.

When is the next call for applications?

The next application window for UNDEF's Fourth Round of funding will open on 16 November 2009 and will close on 31 December 2009.

WHO CAN APPLY?

Who can submit project proposals to UNDEF?

The following institutions are eligible for UNDEF grant funding:

(i) Civil Society Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations, engaged in promoting democracy which are anticipated to receive the bulk of the funding.

(ii) Independent and Constitutional Bodies, including Election Commissions, Ombudsman Institutions, National Human Rights Institutions and other independent governance bodies, for project proposals facilitating the inclusion of the voice of civil society.

(iii) Global and Regional inter-government bodies, organizations and associations other than the United Nations, for project proposals which strengthen the voice of civil society.

More detailed information on funding priorities and on how to submit project proposals is available in the UNDEF Fourth Round Project Proposal Guidelines.

Does my organization need to be accredited to the UN to apply for funding?

No, UN accreditation is not a prerequisite to apply for UNDEF funding.
However, it is required that the Civil Society Organizations/Non-Governmental Organizations applying for UNDEF funding abide by the following commitments:
(i) The Applicant CSO/NGO does not intend to provide any type of support for any member, affiliate or representative of an organization that recommends or is apologetic of the use of violent means in political action in general and of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations in particular, as stated in the 2005 World Summit Outcome document (§81).

(ii) As per ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31 on consultative relationship, as well as the UNDPI criteria for associated NGOs, the Applicant CSO/NGO's aims and purposes are in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

(iii) The CSO/NGO is duly constituted nationally or internationally.

(iv) The CSO/NGO has statutes/by-laws providing for a transparent process of decision making, elections of officers and members of the Board; the CSO has authority to speak for its members through its authorized representatives identified above.

A project from my organization has already been funded in a previous UNDEF funding round. Can I submit a project application for another funding round?

Previous grantees are eligible to submit applications for new projects in subsequent funding rounds. UNDEF aims to provide grants for activities taking place during a two-year period. UNDEF does not fund the continuation of a project that has already received UNDEF funding during a previous round.

Are networks (of local NGOs) eligible for UNDEF funding?

Formal networks can apply. Informal networks cannot apply as such as there is a need for an administrative and accounting structure for monitoring and reporting purposes. However, one NGO of an informal network can be the applicant and all or some of the network members can be project partners and be listed as such in the application, with the clarification that they form an informal network.

Can an organization submit multiple applications under an UNDEF round of funding? If yes, is there any limit to the number of applications that an organization can submit?

In principle, there is no limit to the number of applications that can be submitted. However, as described in the project application guidelines and in conjunction with funding limitations, UNDEF may not be in a position to consider more than one project per organization.

Is an organization based in a high-income economy eligible for funding?

Applications from all countries as well as regional and global initiatives will be considered; there are no limitations in this regard. However, strong preference will be given to applicants from countries and regions that are in the transition and consolidation phases of democratization, in particular countries emerging from conflict, new and restored democracies, the least developed countries and low or middle income countries.

As such, an option for high-income economy based organizations is to be an Executing Agency partnering with a local organization as the Implementing Agency. For more details on the possible management arrangements please refer to UNDEF Fourth Round Project Proposal Guidelines

What is the normal duration of an UNDEF project?

In principle, UNDEF grants will be allocated for projects with a default duration of two years. However, it is fully acceptable to UNDEF if a successful applicant completes a project in less than two years.

What are the low-priority types of expenditures and activities?

UNDEF will not consider as a priority projects which focus on the following:

(i) Initiatives which do not promote democracy

(ii) Initiatives filling a funding gap for ongoing activities

(iii) Activities that can more appropriately be funded by other funding sources (e.g. Thematic Trust Funds or the Peacebuilding Commission's Fund)

(iv) Activities where a substantial part of the budget covers institutional recurrent costs and/or personnel costs, travel and/or conference services

(v) Projects focused primarily on research

(vi) Activities where the proportion of hardware purchases is too significant in the context of total project costs.

Are research activities funded by UNDEF?

UNDEF aims at funding action oriented projects. Applications focusing only on research related activities are not one of our core priorities.

Where can I find information on previous UNDEF funded projects?

Information about UNDEF funded projects in previous rounds is available on UNDEF website under the project section. You can also search UNDEF projects database.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT ARRANGEMENTS

What are the possible management arrangements for an UNDEF funded project?

Two types of management arrangements are possible for an UNDEF funded project and are left up to the decision of the applicant.

(i) CSO-Implemented projects without an Executing Agency (CSOP): Projects where the CSO or other applicant does not partner with an Executing Agency. The CSO is responsible for the overall management of the project and bears all substantive, financial, monitoring, reporting and evaluation responsibilities. The vast majority of applications are in this format.

(ii) CSO-Implemented projects with Executing Agency (CSOP + EA): Projects where the applicant partners with an Executing Agency who will oversee and monitor the project and act as UNDEF's agent for project oversight. The CSO or other applicant will bear substantive responsibility for achieving results in the project. The Executing Agency will be responsible for the oversight of the project and will bear all financial, monitoring, reporting and evaluation responsibilities.

Which management arrangement should I select for my project?

UNDEF does not prefer one implementation modality over another. It is theapplicant's decision whether or not to work with an Executing Agency. Executing Agencies can be UN Agencies, intergovernmental or regional institutions or larger, more-established international NGOs/CSOs.

Please note that CSOP+EA projects where the EA is not a UN Agency (CSOP+ non UN EA) will fall under the monitoring requirements of CSOP projects. Should an applicant decide to work with an Executing Agency the applicant must seek the consent of the Executing Agency prior to submitting their application, and must indicate in the application the contact details of the person who has given this consent.

Do I have to select an Executing Agency?

No. UNDEF does not require an applicant to select an Executing Agency. It is the choice and decision of the applicant to choose the type of management (CSOP; CSOP+EA) for delivery of UNDEF project. The vast majority of applications do not have an Executing Agency.

Who can be an Executing Agency?

Executing Agencies can be UN Agencies, intergovernmental or regional institutions or larger, more-established international NGOs/CSOs. Should an applicant decide to work with an Executing Agency the applicant must seek the consent of the Executing Agency prior to submitting their application, and must indicate in the application the contact details of the person who has given this consent.

How much does an Executing Agency charge?

The Executing Agency will normally be entitled to charge up to 7% of the Total Project Costs for its overhead cost in overseeing the project, unless otherwise advised by UNDEF. This fee must cover all financial, contractual, reporting, evaluation and other agreed services to the project.

Is an applicant entitled to use UNDEF funding to pay for programme support?

The CSO or other applicant in both management arrangement modalities will be allowed to charge the project budget with its direct costs for programme support (e.g. salaries, travel, rent, office supplies), as per local conditions and best international practice. However, such costs must be itemized clearly under separate budget inputs (e.g. salaries, travel, or miscellaneous) UNDEF expects these costs to be modest and they will impact on the assessment of the project proposal under the "Value for Money" assessment criterion (see § 5.6 of the Project Proposal Guidelines Fourth Round).

BUDGET

What are the minimum and the maximum budget amounts for an UNDEF project?

UNDEF funds projects starting at 50,000 USD and up to 500,000 USD.

What is the difference between "budget by input" and "budget by activities"?

"Budget by activities" refers to costs for the project activities themselves (such as project events, production of radio/TV programs, outreach, creating and distributing training materials, etc.). You can list up to 15 activities.

"Budget by input" refers to costs necessary for supporting the implementation of the project (such as salaries, travel, rent, office supplies, etc.).

Please see UNDEF Fourth Round Project Proposal Guidelines for sample budgets and more detailed instructions.

How can the costs for general programme support for the applicant be included in the budget?

In an UNDEF project, the Implementing Agency is allowed to charge the project budget directly with reasonable and modest costs for programme support (costs which are necessary to carry out the project such as staff, travel, rent, office supplies, etc). However, this must be itemized under different budget inputs (such as Salaries, Travel, and Miscellaneous). UNDEF expects such costs remain a modest proportion of the budget.

What is the "Executing Agency overhead fee" (CSOP+EA)?

For CSOP+EA projects, the Executing Agency is entitled to recover a fee (usually up to 7% of the Total Project Costs budget) as an administrative overhead charge for overseeing and providing financial, contractual, reporting and other agreed services to the project. The Executing Agency cannot charge the budget with any other costs. 10% of Total Project Costs will be charged for the M&E and the Executing Agency Fee.

If the submitted project is co-financed, should these costs be included in the project budget?

No, in the budgets provided you only need to specify the project costs to be funded by UNDEF. You can indicate in section 4 "Others Donors and sponsors" the details (amount, origin, etc.) of other funding sources and their contact addresses.

Does my organization keep unspent funding at the end of the project?

All unspent funds must be returned to UNDEF at the end of the project, with the exception of projects with less than 1000USD remaining.

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

What are the reporting requirements for an UNDEF funded project?

Monitoring
Monitoring of project activities will be done in several ways. All project applicants must monitor their own activities. In addition, if the project is CSOP + EA, all Executing Agencies will be also responsible for project monitoring and submission of reports. If the project is CSOP or CSOP+ non UN EA, UNDEF will appoint monitors to observe project milestones. Further information on milestones will be available at the project document drafting stage. Finally, UNDEF will monitor projects by way of review of mid-term and progress reports and will on occasion perform monitoring visits as well.

Reporting
All projects will be required to submit mid-term and final narrative and financial reports. These reports will be considered public information. UNDEF mid-term and final progress report templates and corresponding guidelines will be made available on the UNDEF website. All financial reports must include an audited or certified financial statement, reflect interest earned on funds received from UNDEF, show any parallel funds received by the recipient for complementary activities and align expenses with activities and milestones. Further details will be provided to successful applicants through the "Fourth Round Project Document Guidelines".

Evaluation
All projects must have a proposed evaluation strategy that will be further detailed in the project document.

For CSOP projects, UNDEF reserves the right to appoint monitors and evaluators and will pay for those services out of the funds that have been retained from each project. UNDEF has the discretion to use these funds for related or similar purposes as well.

The grantees will cooperate with UNDEF-appointed monitors, will be responsible for collecting baseline information and feedback forms throughout the project lifecycle and if requested, will arrange for an independent evaluation with funds covered by UNDEF.

For CSOP + EA projects, the Executing Agency will arrange for the evaluation and should discuss its scope with UNDEF prior to undertaking the evaluation.

10% of the total project costs will be kept aside for monitoring and evaluation purposes. For CSOP project, the M&E costs are the maximum of $25,000 as cap.

For CSOP +EA projects, there will be no cap of US$25,000. The 10% will be used to pay 1) the administrative overhead fee up to 7% of the total project costs (which includes monitoring, reporting, and evaluation) and 2) the balance will be used by UNDEF for third-party evaluation that may be needed for comparative or thematic evaluation.

HOW TO APPLY? THE UNDEF ON-LINE PROJECT PROPOSAL SYSTEM (OPPS)

What is the on-line project proposal system (OPPS)?

On-line Project Proposal System (OPPS) is an on-line system that allows prospective grantees to submit their applications to UNDEF electronically. The OPPS can be accessed at through the UNDEF website at www.un.org/democracyfund or directly by clicking on the link above.

In which language can I submit my application?

All applications must be in either English or French, the two working languages of the United Nations.

How do I fill out an application using the on-line project proposal system?

The fields can accommodate a limited number of characters. You need to present your project information in a concise and clear manner. When filling in the form please ensure that you do not go over the characters allowed or your text will be truncated. This affects greatly the quality of your proposal. Please note, all the fields with the symbol (*) are compulsory. For more information please refer to UNDEF Fourth Round Project Proposal Guidelines.

Can I save my application on-line before submitting a final draft?

The on-line project proposal system has a saving function which allows you to begin drafting and then save an application to continue it at a later point. Once your application is saved, you will receive an email with all the necessary information to log into the system and continue working on your application prior to submission.

How do I submit my application?

Saving your application does not submit your application to UNDEF. Your application is submitted to UNDEF once you click the "preview and submit" buttons at the end of the form. You will receive a confirmation email soon after submitting your application within 48 hours. This email will contain your application receipt number. Should you not receive the confirmation email within 48 hours, contact us at democracyfund@un.org
Further information on the OPPS is contained in the UNDEF Fourth Round Project Proposal Guidelines.

Can I submit my project application by mail, email or fax?

No, applications can only be submitted on-line through our On-line Project Proposal System (OPPS). Applications submitted by email, mail, fax or any other channel will not be considered.

Can I submit additional documents to strengthen my application?

All information which is necessary to assess your project application is required in the on-line project proposal system. Please do not send any further documents or information to UNDEF as they will not be taken into consideration.

How can I access a saved (but not yet submitted) project application?

Once your application has been saved, you will receive an email with your log-in information as well as the link to access your application. Please use this information to log-in here.

Please note that UNDEF cannot retrieve your log-in information or your saved application.

How can I view my submitted project application?

Once your application has been submitted, you will be assigned a receipt number which will be sent to you in the email acknowledging receipt of submission of your proposal. You can use this information to view your submitted application.

Please note that you cannot edit an application, once it has been submitted. Also, you will be able to view your submitted application only while the application period is open. For this reason, UNDEF recommends you also keep a copy of your project application. UNDEF is unable to send submitted applications back to applicants.

What can I do if I lose my log-in details?

Please note that UNDEF cannot retrieve your log-in information or your saved application. If you lose your log-in details, you must start a new application.

TECHNICAL PROBLEMS WITH THE ON-LINE PROJECT PROPOSAL SYSTEM (OPPS)

When I try to access the on-line project proposal system (OPPS), I get a blank screen. What should I do?

Please check if you can access other web pages, as there may be a problem with your internet connection. If other pages are working, please contact your internet provider or the system administrator to determine the problem.

My email address has been refused and I have tried several times. Would you have any idea how to avoid that?

We would suggest creating a new generic email address (such as @gmail or @yahoo) for the application.

HOW ARE APPLICATIONS ASSESSED AND WHAT IS THE SELECTION PROCESS?

How will my application be assessed by UNDEF?

All project applications submitted to UNDEF will be assessed by experienced people against the 10 following criteria:

  1. The project promotes the objectives of UNDEF

  2. The project draws on the United Nations comparative advantage

  3. The project will have a significant impact

  4. The project will encourage inclusiveness

  5. The project will enhance gender equality

  6. The project has strong prospects for successful implementation

  7. The applicant organization has a strong track record

  8. The project is technically sound in conception and presentation

  9. The project represents good value for money

  10. The project has strong prospects of sustainability beyond the project duration.

Who decides what projects will be funded?

Final decisions on funding are taken by the Secretary-General on the basis of recommendations from the Advisory Board. The Board has 19 members, composed of Member States, representatives appointed by the Secretary General including representatives from civil society and the Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships.

In the case of an organization submitting more than one project application; will any successful application in one country automatically disqualify all other project applications from the same organization in other countries?

Successful applications for one country will not automatically disqualify applications from the same organization in another country. However, UNDEF has limited funding possibilities and may not be able to fund multiple projects from the same organization, even in different countries.

How can I find out about the status of my application?

By early June 2009, all successful short-listed applicants will be notified at the electronic address indicated in their application, unless otherwise advised on the UNDEF website. UNDEF will contact the selected applicants and will invite them to draft project documents. Please note that UNDEF will contact only successful applicants (usually around June). UNDEF does not have the capacity to respond to individual queries on project status or to advise applicants that their project has not been selected.

How will I be notified if my application is selected?

By early June 2010, all successful short-listed applicants will be notified at the electronic address indicated in their application, unless otherwise advised on the UNDEF website. UNDEF does not have the resources to individually advise unsuccessful applicants.