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Grant application kit: a quick tour

General features

The kit provides hyperlinks to documents that are required or that provide essential guidance in preparing the application. 

  • IDRC will not reimburse any costs incurred for the preparation and submission of an application or for any cost incurred before the Centre’s approval of the grant.

  • All information in your application (including supporting materials) is subject to release upon request under Canada’s Access to Information Act and/or the Privacy Act.

  • IDRC accepts project proposals written in English, French, or Spanish.

    • A certified translation must accompany any original document that is not available in English, French, or Spanish.  

    • If the original proposal is in Spanish, the proponent must prepare an executive summary in one of IDRC’s official languages (English or French).

  • Documentation should clearly indicate the name of the institution.


Section A: Checklist

The Corporate Documents section lists the legal documentation required to establish your institution/organization’s eligibility for funding, such as letters patent, articles of incorporation, or founding legislation.

Any of the aforementioned documents or other information may be requested at a later date if they are not provided in the application package. Please refer to the call document for guidance on applying for funding through a competitive call.

Section B: Summary of proposed research project

Applicants must provide a research abstract, identify research partners, and indicate any parallel contributions. It is important to highlight all countries where programming activities will occur or where potential recipient institutions are located.

Section C: Details of research projects

This section provides guidelines for the research problem and justification; objectives; methodology; project schedule; results and dissemination of findings; and the institutions and personnel involved in the project.  

Section D: Proposed budget and timeline

  • Applicants must complete IDRC’s Proposal Budget as part of their submission.

  • Applications must be submitted in the applicant’s working currency (the currency in which the books of accounts are maintained). However, as a Canadian Crown Corporation, IDRC restricts all of its contractual obligations for grants and contributions to the approved Canadian dollar amount. 

  • The amount of an IDRC grant is based on the forecasted costs of the project at the exchange rate between the working currency of the project and the Canadian dollar at the time the project is approved.

  • Budget notes are an essential part of IDRC's due diligence and form an integral part of the approval process. The rationale and support for arriving at each budget figure allows IDRC to understand the activities to be undertaken, their impact on project costs, and the reasonability of the cost estimates.

  • Without budget details that clearly support the cost estimates, the grant approval process and any subsequent financial reporting and payment cycles may be delayed. Delays in funding can impact project outcomes.

  • Please note that when the law limits banking transactions by Canadian financial institutions in a particular country, IDRC will not undertake any form of programming in that country that results directly or indirectly in Canadian funds flowing to it.

Budget categories

All project costs must be allocated to the eight budget categories. Each budget category must include sufficient line items and detailed notes to relate the budget to the proposed plan of work.

  1. Personnel
    Includes all remuneration, allowances, and benefits paid to project staff and advisors hired for a specific project. Note that salaries should not exceed 25% of the project budget (without a detailed rationale approved by IDRC).

  2. Consultants
    Includes details of the consultants or subcontractors needed to provide expert professional advice on a fee-for-service basis.

  3. Evaluation
    Includes expenses related to the systematic assessment of the project, program, policy, or strategic issue to determine progress toward achieving objectives or the quality and effects of IDRC-funded activities.

  4. Equipment
    This includes equipment that has a useful life of more than one year and costs more than CA$5,000 per item. Equipment not meeting such criteria can be included as a “Research Expense”.  Please note: 

    • IDRC funds should never be used to pay any direct or indirect form of taxation for equipment purchased outside of Canada.

    • The IDRC grantee institution is responsible for all insurance coverage and IDRC does not assume responsibility for any losses.

    • Equipment should not exceed 20% of the project budget (unless a detailed rationale is pre-approved by IDRC).

  5. International travel
    Includes all costs related to international travel incurred by the project personnel listed in the personnel category of the budget proposal.

    Your institution's travel-management processes should be used to make travel arrangements, but the class of travel is limited to economy and per diems must not exceed IDRC's schedule of per diems for non-employees, as stipulated in the General Terms and Conditions of the Grant Agreement.

  6. Training
    Includes any trainee’s registration and tuition fees; living and other allowances; research and training expenses; and travel costs during the trainee’s participation in degree or diploma programs, short courses, student fieldwork, postdoctoral training, or other scholarly activities.

  7. Research expenses
    Includes all services and materials required to carry out the research.

    All research proposals submitted to IDRC must include an Open Access Plan. Costs related to publishing open access are eligible expenses budgeted under the “Research expenses” category (learn more in IDRC’s Open Access Policy).

    Where the proposal includes a competitive grant scheme, the amount allocated to the eventual sub-grantees is budgeted under this category. Similarly, when the applicant will act on behalf of a consortium or on behalf of the members of a network, transfers to the other members of the consortium or network must be budgeted under this category. In both cases, when the name of the sub-grantees is known, detailed information must be entered in the proposal budget as instructed in the template.

  8. Indirect costs
    IDRC expects grantees to absorb the overhead or administrative costs of a project as part of its IDRC grantee contribution. Where an organization has a supportable indirect costs recovery policy, IDRC may allow indirect costs (see below) of up to 13% of all IDRC grantee-administered costs. The indirect cost rate proposed in the budget should not exceed the grantee’s organizational rate and should be verifiable. 

    Where a project includes sub-IDRC grantees who are administering a portion of the project, the maximum contribution may be shared between the proposing institution and the collaborating institution, but it should never exceed 13% of the total budget in aggregate. 

    Indirect project costs consist of administrative costs that are not directly related to the research. Indirect cost items are limited to:

    • salaries and benefits of personnel who support and administer the project, such as secretaries, clerks, and accountants;

    • stationery and other office supplies;

    • telecommunications (unless the nature of the project has warranted a specific budget line item for that purpose); and

    • computer equipment used for the administration or accounting of the grant disbursements.

Other donor contributions (parallel funding)

This includes the portion of funds that will be directly provided to the applicant by other international funders in support of a project that is initiated or co-initiated by IDRC.

IDRC does not administer parallel funds.

Local contribution estimates

It is a funding condition that the applicant financially contributes to the project. This is known as the recipient contribution and must be estimated and recorded in the proposal budget. The distinction between cash and/or in-kind contributions should also be reflected in the project budget:

  • Cash amounts expended from the recipient’s own resources, from private grants, or from grants received from local, provincial, or national authorities for the project.

  • In-kind contributions such as employee salaries, equipment, infrastructure, and overhead costs.

Disallowable expenses

Where IDRC does not have tax exemption clauses in its general country agreement with the host country, applicants must absorb the cost of all duties (at the point of entry when project-purchased goods are imported) and other forms of local direct taxation (including capital equipment taxes for physical plants and equipment). Communicate with your grant administration contact for more details.

IDRC funds cannot be used for the purchase or construction of new office space or any other building. Any leasehold improvement and/or office renovation must be approved by the Centre.

Section E: Qualifications and experience of the research team

This includes:

  • a profile of the project leader, including contact details;

  • curriculum vitae; language skills;

  • a list of key research team members; and

  • organizational affiliation and role in the project.

Formal funding request

In addition to the application form, all applicants must provide a written formal request that clearly demonstrates that the institution stands behind the proposal submitted to IDRC. The formal request can be made in the form of a letter or an email requesting funding and outlining the applicant’s commitment and contribution, either in-kind or in-cash, to the research proposal’s success.

The formal request must come from the legal signatory of the institution to which the grant document will be addressed.

Notification of approval

Timelines for funding decisions vary. They are based on the date of receipt of the final full proposal and final proposal budget.

Financial and administrative assessment

Applicants with approved proposals may be asked to produce the following to determine the timing of reporting and payments:

  • most recent audited financial statements*;

  • if not audited, the latest financial statements duly authorized by a financial officer;

  • an up-to-date organization chart;

  • table of contents of the policy and procedures manual, if any;

  • a list of current external donors and their contributions;

  • the latest annual report; and

  • proof of registration to a social security scheme and/or a summary of human resources policies.

*Includes but not limited to balance sheet; statement of income and expenses, or profit and loss; notes forming part of the financial statements; auditor’s report; and auditor’s management letter.

Where financial and administrative documents are available publicly via website, please provide the direct link.

Special considerations: country procedures

In some cases, IDRC has scientific and technical cooperation agreements with the governments of the countries where we support projects. Where such agreements exist, IDRC may require additional or alternative approval processes to be followed in order to comply with such agreements. Otherwise, grantees must follow the prevailing approval procedure as required by the government authority. This is often administered by a coordinating or nodal agency of the government and varies by jurisdiction.

An IDRC grant administration representative will advise the selected applicant if any country procedures need to be followed. A grant agreement will only be issued if country clearance(s) is/are obtained beforehand. In cases where the recipient will manage sub-grantees, the country requirements that apply to sub-grantees are also documented in the grant agreement. It becomes the responsibility of the IDRC grantee to ensure that sub-grantees meet these requirements.