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Managing funds

What am I responsible for now that the grant agreement is signed?

IDRC has approved a project grant for your institution. Once the grant agreement is signed (indicating that you accept the terms and conditions), the funds are deemed legally committed and can be expensed.

As an IDRC grantee, you are expected to:

  • manage the technical aspects of the activities; and

  • exercise adequate financial controls.

Project administration is an integral part of the research process. Accurate and timely financial and administrative information helps to monitor the progress of ongoing activities and ensures that project activities have the necessary resources to proceed on time and within budget. It also allows IDRC staff to see how the research, administrative, and financial aspects of your project are evolving. This information is critical to IDRC’s own accountability when reporting to Canadian taxpayers and funding agencies.

A clear understanding of administrative procedures is the best way to ensure the timely disbursement of funds. Everyone involved in administering IDRC funds at your institution must read this document in conjunction with the grant agreement that you received from IDRC. Collaboration between researchers and their administrative counterparts is essential to ensure that substantive and financial aspects of projects are administered effectively.

Your base document: the grant agreement

Part 1: Specific terms and conditions

This section provides essential information regarding your grant, such as the objectives of the project, the duration, the country approvals (if relevant), the names of those party to the agreement, and any special clauses or conditions that apply.

Part 2: General terms and conditions

The general terms and conditions provide information on how the grant must be managed and detail the requirements that must be fulfilled as an IDRC grantee.

Part 2 should be read and understood by all employees working on the project. Particular attention should be paid to the issue of open access and intellectual property:

IDRC places great importance on using research. All technical reporting and research outputs delivered to IDRC are considered project outputs, including grey literature (technical reports, theses, papers, workshop reports, conference proceedings, brochures, and audiovisual products), articles, books, and publications. These outputs are added to IDRC’s research library on an open-access basis. All open access-related costs should be budgeted in the proposal submitted to the Centre.  

Familiarize yourself with the Centre’s policy on the availability of project outputs and the provisions in your grant agreement regarding patentable inventions or new intellectual property. Where new inventions are likely to occur, IDRC takes steps to enable collaborating institutions to reach an understanding regarding their ownership and use. We also ask collaborating institutions to acknowledge their intention to reach an agreement in cases where inventions are not foreseeable.

Refer to IDRC’s Open Access Policy for information about eligible costs and guidelines on licensing and project inventions.

Part 3: Schedule of project milestones

Project milestones are significant events that are planned during the lifecycle of the project. Typically these milestones are technical or financial reports, but they can also include country clearance and ethical clearance requirements, as well as project activities such as workshops or publications. IDRC refers to these milestones to schedule project payments. It is critical to meet milestones throughout your project to avoid delays in project payments and subsequent disruption to your research.

A clear understanding of objectives, related spending, and expected timing will keep you on course throughout the grant agreement. If you are unable to deliver within the project timeline, you must get in touch with your IDRC technical contact person (preferably before the research completion date indicated in your grant agreement). All project deliverables must be submitted to IDRC by the contract completion date stipulated in the grant agreement.

Part 4: Project budget

Only expenses incurred during the project and for budgeted purposes will be reimbursed. Expenses incurred prior to the project’s commencement and after completion will not be reimbursed.

Any reallocation from one budget category to another requires the prior approval of the IDRC technical contact person. 

In cases where a fund supplement is approved, the grant agreement will be amended to reflect the revised budget.

Part 5: Intellectual Property Rights Agreement

Project inventions resulting from project activities funded by the Centre are governed by the Intellectual Property Rights Agreement signed between IDRC and the recipient. Recipients are obligated to report any inventions to the Centre and must enter into an agreement with IDRC in the event an invention is created.

Your accountability: Reporting on project performance

Project outputs and technical and financial reports must be submitted on time — they are a condition of receiving your advances. Missing or insufficient documentation will lead to delays in project payments. IDRC’s grant agreement specifies the type of outputs and the frequency of the technical and financial reports that must be submitted.

As noted below, all project outputs and technical and financial reports must be submitted within the schedule established in Part 3: Schedule of project milestones of the grant agreement. All project outputs, including technical and financial reports, must be submitted electronically through IDRC Connect.

How IDRC grants are disbursed

IDRC grants are disbursed on the basis of a schedule of milestones outlined in the grant agreement (Part 3: Schedule of project milestones).

The schedule of payments reflects the IDRC grantee’s expected cash flow as indicated in the proposal budget or, if submitted prior to approval, the project work plan. The initial payment is contingent on the signing of the grant agreement by all parties. Interim payments are released based on the progress of project activities and after the Centre receives and approves the required project deliverables.

Payments during the lifecycle of the project are determined by the forecast submitted by the IDRC grantee. The forecast is submitted in the working currency of the institution and the payment is converted to Canadian dollars at the exchange rate in effect at that time. Therefore, it is important to record and report all expenditures and project payments in the working currency of the project. When the project is closed, the final project payment is adjusted to account for exchange variations. Any shortfall must be absorbed as part of the institution’s contribution to the project.

Technical reports

You will be expected to provide both interim and final technical reports that detail your progress toward the project’s stated objectives. The report should help IDRC staff assess:

  • the technical progress of your project; and

  • the purpose and relevance of all project expenditures to date.

If work is undertaken in collaboration with other organizations, it is expected that technical reports will be prepared jointly.

IDRC places a high degree of importance on these reports and they are included in the Project Outputs noted in the General Terms and Conditions of the Grant Agreement.

Interim report(s)

An interim (or progress) report should provide a concise description of the activities planned and completed during the reporting period (see Guidelines for preparing interim technical reports). The exact dates of the reporting period should be clearly specified.

The following information should be provided for each project objective:

  • details of the work carried out;

  • results; activities planned for the next period;

  • an evaluation or assessment of progress;

  • an outline of problems encountered and the actions to take to address them; and

  • administrative aspects (i.e., changes in staffing, organizational changes in the institution, the status of trainees supported by the project, and future training requirements).

Other research outputs may be shared (such as research papers, surveys, and questionnaires), but these outputs do not replace the required technical reports.

The final report

The final technical report should:

Technical reports are reviewed closely by the technical contact person identified in your grant agreement. This officer assesses the project’s progress in achieving its stated objectives and determines whether additional project payments are justified. Please contact the responsible officer identified in your grant agreement for additional information on the interim or final technical reports.

Financial reports

IDRC’s Financial Reporting Workbook provides guidance for preparing your financial reports. Each form captures specific financial information.

The Project Information Summary identifies the project, specifies the reporting period, and certifies your institution’s endorsement of the accuracy of all statements made in the report.

The Detailed Expenses and Forecast Worksheet details all items of expenditure in each budget category and projects future expenditures, including notes to explain variations from the original budget. All variances that exceed 10% of the budgeted amount must be explained. 

The Expense and Forecast Summary summarizes the total actual expenditures and the forecast expenditures for each major budget category, as per the details provided in the Detailed Expense and Forecast Worksheets.

The Budget Balance Summary provides an overview of the project’s overall expenditures and the remaining budget.

Section 3A – Cash Receipts and Foreign Exchange and Other Income records all payments received from IDRC and the corresponding exchange calculations.

Sections 3B and 3C – Notice of Receipt of Parallel Funds and Disbursement of Local Contributions reports funds received from other donors, in addition to local contributions to your project.

​Financial reports must be prepared following the format in the Proposal Budget (included with IDRC’s approved grant agreement), which summarizes the details of your proposed budget in eight categories. This standardized format supports analysis and any future inquiries by IDRC.

It is important to note the following when preparing your financial reports:

IDRC supports project costs within the allowable expense categories. 

IDRC grantees must report total research costs. They must clearly report costs funded by IDRC, as well as costs related to the local contribution.

The final financial report must be received on or no more than 30 days after the work completion date.

In some cases, your project may draw funds from several donors. When additional resources are provided directly by another donor, you must reconcile expenses to the resources received from each donor in your financial report. 

Financial reports must indicate all income resulting from the disposal of project equipment purchased with IDRC funds, or through the sale of books, publications, experimental crops, or interest earned on grant funds deposited at the bank. This income must be considered as payment (input) to the project. This input must be reported separately and considered part of IDRC’s contribution to the project.

Financial reports must outline the actual expenditures and the forecast expenditures of your project (mandatory for interim reports).

Financial reports must provide enough detail to assess the project’s financial situation. 

Financial reports must be submitted to IDRC in the approved budget format and currency.

Certification of financial report

All financial reports submitted to IDRC must be signed by the project leader AND the chief financial officer (or his/her authorized representative) of the grantee institution. Financial reports will be rejected if they are received without certification.

For additional information about financial reporting, please contact the grant administrator identified in your grant agreement.

Importance of reports

Technical and financial reports are a condition for further advances of funds and/or the final project payment. Missing or insufficient documentation will lead to delays in project payments. IDRC analyzes technical and financial reports to determine their technical and financial accuracy and completeness.

IDRC’s analysis of financial reports focuses on three aspects:

  • grant receipts and exchange rates;

  • variances in actual expenditures and forecast expenditures, and explanations of these variances; and

  • cash flow to determine the amount of the next payment.

The technical or administrative contact person at IDRC may seek clarification on the details above. Once all of the missing information is provided, IDRC’s analysis will be completed and the next payment will be processed (if the cash need is demonstrated and supported). 


Grant monitoring

Monitoring is a mechanism by which IDRC ensures that grantees use the funds they receive for their intended purpose, and thereby produce the desired technical (and ultimately development) outcomes. 

Monitoring also helps to manage the risks identified before a project begins and that arise during the course of research. The learning generated through monitoring contributes to meeting project objectives and achieving results. It also provides essential information to IDRC about the evolution of scientific and policy issues and the performance of institutions in carrying out the research.

What to expect when IDRC monitors your project

Project monitoring typically occurs at set times during the project’s lifecycle and on any other occasion when significant opportunities or challenges arise. Project monitoring at IDRC can take many forms, including:

  • project/site visits by IDRC or consultants;

  • attendance at workshops, conferences, or other events;

  • reviewing technical and financial reports;

  • exchanging emails;

  • telephone or Skype calls;

  • conducting institutional visits;

  • preparing reports to external funders;

  • reading communications products, such as articles or scholarly works, or viewing and listening to audiovisual works;

  • examining technologies developed in the project;

  • creating log frames;

  • conducting surveys and circulating questionnaires.


How do I deal with unforeseen changes?

While all conditions specified in your grant agreement must be respected, IDRC recognizes that situations outside the grantee’s control may occur. Please contact IDRC immediately if you encounter significant difficulties during the execution of your project. Dependent on the situation, an amendment to your grant agreement may be considered.

Project changes must be documented and requested in writing as early as possible. Project extension requests should be made before the project research completion date. It is important to note that any deviation from the project’s original work plan and approved budget must be pre-authorized by the IDRC technical contact person. Project changes are documented in an amended grant agreement signed by all parties.

When additional (supplemental) funds are required

An IDRC grantee may request additional funds for activities within the scope of the work originally approved for funding. Supplemental requests are evaluated on the basis of need, strength of justification, and availability of funds.

Exchange rate variations

IDRC restricts all contractual obligations to the Canadian dollar amount specified in the grant agreement. IDRC grantees are expected to absorb variations in the exchange rate as part of their contribution to the project.

On an exceptional basis, when exchange variations may result in significant shortfalls that could jeopardize project objectives, IDRC may consider a request for supplementary funding. Such a request must be submitted toward the end of the project lifecycle, when actual costs are known and end-of-project shortfalls can be more accurately forecast.

When more time (extension) is needed

A project extension may be granted if additional time is required to assure adequate completion of the original scope of work. Extension requests based on a broadened scope or to use unexpended funds will not be considered. Extension requests must explain and justify the need and provide a date when the activities will be completed. This request must be submitted before the project’s work completion date. The Centre will provide a written approval in the form of an amended grant agreement.

Project completion and closure

Final reports

Your institution is expected to submit a satisfactory final technical report on or before your project’s work completion date. When required, IDRC must receive the final financial report within 30 days of the project’s work completion date.

Since the completion date in your grant agreement is fixed, reporting delays are likely to cause challenges in completing your planned activities and in meeting your research goals.

The final financial report must cover all funds expended by the project and must be submitted in the same format and detail as outlined in the grant agreement. Expenses incurred by your institution outside the grant duration will not be accepted.

The final technical report should review the research undertaken with project funds.

Following the review and approval of both reports, IDRC will make the final payment (if applicable) and proceed with project closure. At this point, no additional funds can be made available to your project.

IDRC may terminate the project at any time if you fail to comply with the terms of your agreement (this includes reporting and other milestone deadlines).

Grant termination

IDRC may terminate a grant agreement in exceptional circumstances. Terminations may occur for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • breach of contract by the IDRC grantee;

  • underperformance or poor performance by the IDRC grantee;

  • impropriety on the part of the IDRC grantee;

  • involvement in unlawful activities by the IDRC grantee;

  • IDRC discovers duplication of effort (i.e., the research is currently being funded by another donor or a third-party has funded the same research,

  • or substantially similar research, carried out by the same IDRC grantee or by other IDRC grantees);

  • bankruptcy or insolvency of the IDRC grantee organization;

  • research ethics issues that cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both IDRC and the IDRC grantee;

  • termination by request of the IDRC grantee because of issues that cannot be addressed by an extension or amendment to the agreement;

  • IDRC or donor partner determination that the project falls outside of mandate or approved programming direction;

  • loss of donor or parliamentary funding;

  • introduction of new priorities, regulations, or legislation that effectively prevent IDRC from continuing its support of certain IDRC grantees or project work.

Return of unused funds

IDRC funds must be used for their originally intended purpose and any unused funds must be returned to IDRC at the end of the project. Your IDRC administrative contact can provide more information about this process.

Need help?

Please contact the responsible officer or the administrative contact person identified in your grant agreement for additional questions about procedures and conditions.


Appendix 1 – Checklist for financial reporting

Your report will only be accepted if you have included all of the necessary information listed below. Incomplete reports will be returned and payment processing will be delayed.

⛔ This checklist must be attached as the covering page to your financial report. ⛔

☑ Reporting periods are clearly indicated, as stipulated in the Grant Agreement.

☑ Monetary amounts are in local currency.

☑ The report is vetted by the Project Leader and the authorized Financial Officer.

Note: the report submitted must be vetted by the Project Leader and the authorized Financial Officer so that the financial report certification by your institution (i.e. signature) can be expedited once the report is reviewed and accepted by IDRC. Please note that any delay in securing that certification will delay your next project payment.

☑ The report includes a forecast of planned expenditures for the next period.

Note: Forecast is required for interim periods. Remaining periods must be forecast as stipulated in the guideline.

☑ The budget expense line item categories match the budget submission in Part 4 (Project Budget) of the grant agreement.

☑ Variances in excess of 10% are fully explained.

☑ A list of the payments received from IDRC in local (working) currency for the period has been included.

☑ Where applicable, a list of transfers from a holding currency account to the working currency account by transaction, month, or quarter is included.

Note: This information confirms that the IDRC grantee has received the corresponding amount released by IDRC and should include all details of the transfers.

☑ All sources of project-related income have been disclosed.

Note: Other income includes, but is not limited to, interest paid on bank deposits or from the sale of publications, videos, etc. All income must be properly accounted for and reported to IDRC.

☑ Contributions received by other donors have been included, if applicable.

☑ Financial and in-kind contributions have been recorded.

Note: Please ensure that supporting documentation is maintained within your organization to support these contributions in the event that it is requested by IDRC.

Guides and forms