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FY 2008 General NGO Guidelines for Overseas Assistance

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

(updated June 6, 2008)


These guidelines provide an overview of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration’s (PRM) mission and overall priorities and are meant to augment region- and issue-specific guidelines issued throughout the year.

PRM has primary responsibility within the U.S. Government for formulating policies on population, refugees, and migration, and for administering U.S. refugee assistance and admissions programs. PRM’s mission is to provide protection, life-sustaining relief, and durable solutions for refugees and conflict victims, working through the multilateral humanitarian system to achieve the best results for refugees and conflict victims on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer.

PRM’s primary activities support the efforts of the key multilateral humanitarian organizations responsible for displaced people, conflict victims, and migrants, including the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). We collaborate closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to ensure our efforts are mutually reinforcing. We fund non-governmental organization (NGO) programs that fill critical gaps and are coordinated with the multilateral system.


Policy Priorities

Coordination: PRM places a high priority on coordination and collaboration with the host nation, UN agencies (especially UNHCR) and other international organizations (IOs), other NGOs, other USG agencies, and other donors in project design and implementation. Proposals should demonstrate the extent to which an NGO already coordinates and cooperates with the host nation, relevant UN and USG agencies and other NGOs. Projects must target critical gaps in UN/IO programs.

Vulnerable and Underserved Populations: PRM focuses on meeting the needs of vulnerable and underserved populations. Vulnerable groups may include women, children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, and minorities, among others. PRM strongly promotes women’s equal access to resources and their participation in managing those resources.

Codes of Conduct: PRM strongly supports the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s (IASC) Plan of Action to protect beneficiaries of humanitarian assistance from sexual exploitation and abuse. PRM partners must have Codes of Conduct consistent with the IASC’s six core principles signed and implemented within their organizations. (IASC’s six core principles can be found at http://www.interaction.org/library/detail.php?id=848.)

Minimum Humanitarian Standards: NGO proposals should use the Sphere Minimum Standards in Disaster Response as the basis for design, implementation, and evaluation in emergency settings, including proposed objectives and indicators. For non-emergency settings, proposals should refer to relevant international standards, e.g., Sphere standards, UNHCR standards and indicators, IASC guidelines, etc.

Security: PRM strongly recommends that NGOs adhere to the UN’s security guidelines in any given location and use InterAction’s Security Planning Guidelines. PRM will consider requests to fund security requirements on a case-by-case basis. Failure to maintain adequate security precautions may result in suspension of PRM funding.

Cost-sharing: PRM looks favorably on cost-sharing efforts and seeks to support projects with a diverse donor base and/or resources from the submitting organization.

Proposal Submission and Review Process

PRM accepts NGO proposals at any time, but for many regions and issues the Bureau announces specific policy and program priorities and invites NGOs to submit proposals within a limited period of time. (To receive PRM’s funding announcements, go to the top of the right highlight bar on PRM’s website at http://www.state.gov/g/prm/ and subscribe to PRM’s listserv.)
PRM only provides funding for a twelve-month period and cannot make commitments to fund projects in successive years. Applicants with continuing programs must reapply and compete for PRM funding each year. PRM conducts internal formal competitive reviews of all proposal submissions based on the proposal evaluation criteria and PRM’s priorities.

How to Apply

PRM posts all funding opportunities on Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov), PRM’s website (http://www.state.gov/g/prm/fund/announcements/), and in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). PRM's CFDA numbers are:

  • 9.510 - U.S. Reception and Placement Program
  • 19.511 - Overseas Refugee Assistance Programs for East Asia
  • 19.517 - Overseas Refugee Assistance Programs for Africa
  • 19.518 - Overseas Refugee Assistance Programs for Western Hemisphere
  • 19.519 - Overseas Refugee Assistance Programs for Near East and South Asia
  • 19.520 - Overseas Refugee Assistance Programs for Europe
  • 19.522 - Overseas Refugee Assistance Programs for Strategic Global Priorities

PRM prefers to receive proposals via Grants.gov. The Bureau may accept applications via other methods only if they are coordinated in advance with the relevant program officer.

When responding to a PRM funding announcement please start early to avoid missing the submission deadline. Organizations that have waited to submit proposals until the day of the deadline have experienced difficulties causing them to miss deadlines; and, as a result, their proposals were not considered for funding. Because of the time it takes for proposal submissions, once submitted to Grants.gov, to be registered and validated by Grants.gov, PRM recommends that you consider submitting your proposal at least a week before the deadline listed in the respective funding announcement. Grants.gov guidance notes that it can take 48 hours, and sometimes longer, for a proposal to be validated as received by the Grants.gov system. Submitting your proposal in advance is the best way to ensure that your proposal makes the deadline cutoff.

If your organization has never applied for PRM funding before and is not registered with the government-wide Central Contractor Registry (CCR) and/or does not have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number you will need to get a DUNS number and then register with CCR before you can submit a proposal to Grants.gov. The CCR and DUNS registration process can take some time so we recommend you start as early as possible.

Preparing to apply via Grants.gov is a three-step process which can take up to two weeks for U.S. NGOs and considerably longer for non-U.S. NGOs.

NGOs must:

  1.  register with the government wide Central Contractor Registry (CCR) at 1-888-227-2423;
  2.  become authenticated through Grants.gov Credential Provider to receive a user name and password; and
  3. register with Grants.gov as an AOR, Authorized Official Representative.

    PLEASE NOTE: Each organization must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number in order to register with CCR. For DUNS assistance, please call 1-866-705-5711.

NGOs that have never received U.S. Government funding must be prepared to demonstrate that they meet the financial and accounting requirements of the U.S. Government by providing copies of the following:

  1.  the most recent external financial audit;
  2. proof of non-profit tax status including under IRS 501 (c)(3), as applicable;
  3.  Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number; and
  4. Employer ID number (EIN)/Federal Tax Identification Number.
    (Note: It may take some time to acquire these documents if an organization doesn’t already have them.)

International organizations (IOs) that apply for funding opportunities on Grants.gov are subject to PRM administrative authorities and procedures for voluntary contributions to IOs.

In addition, each official submission to PRM must include the Standard Form (SF) 424 Version 02 that shows an expiration date of January 31, 2009 at the top right corner. PRM also requires that Box 21 of the SF 424 Version 02 be checked. The SF 424 Version 02 can be found at www.grants.gov using the following steps:

  1. from the Grants.gov main screen use menu to the left;
  2. click on “For Agencies”;
  3. click on “Forms Repository”;
  4. click on “Active forms”;
  5. click on “SF 424 Family”; and
  6.  select the form named “Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424).
The SF 424 Version 02 can also be accessed directly at:http://www.grants.gov/techlib/424_20090131.doc.

Applicants who are unable to submit via Grants.gov due to technical difficulties should contact the Grants.gov Help Desk at 1-800-518-4726 or support@grants.gov at least one week prior to deadline to secure a trouble ticket. Applicants may then contact the specific PRM point of contact identified in the respective funding opportunity announcement in order to determine whether an alternative method of submission is appropriate.

Proposals should be no more than ten pages in length (not including budget summary, budget detail, budget narrative, and certified SF-424 Version 02 form). Descriptions of background information should be succinct. Proposals should provide information on the organization’s experience in the particular region in past years. The budget for the proposed program should identify not only the PRM request, but also those portions funded by the applicant itself, UNHCR or other UN/IO agencies, USAID, or other donors as well as funding being sought from other donors. The proposed budget should also include budget amounts by sector, when possible. In addition to a budget summary, the proposal should include a budget narrative with sufficient detail by sector and objective.

Contacting PRM

Specific regional or cross-cutting issue funding announcements will specify a point of contact at PRM, typically a program officer in Washington, and, as applicable, a locally-based PRM Refugee Coordinator.

Applicants may address general questions and proposals to:

Arlissa Reynolds
NGO Coordinator
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
2401 E ST NW
Suite L505, SA-1
Washington, DC 20522-0105

Phone: (202) 663-1482
Fax: (202) 663-1002

Email: ReynoldsAM@state.gov

Proposal Format

Proposals submitted to PRM must be written according to the following format unless otherwise specified in region- or issue- specific funding opportunity announcements.

Please be as clear and as concise as possible. If your application consists of multiple files you should pay careful attention to Grants.gov’s guidance for file naming conventions (http://www.grants.gov/applicants/submit_application_faqs.jsp#6)

A few tips:

  •  Limit file attachment name. File attachment names longer than approximately 50 characters can cause problems to Grants.gov processing the application package.
  •  Use numbers to indicate correct sequence. ( example, 1_proposal.doc; 2_budgetnarrative.doc)
  •  Do not use any special characters (example: %, /, #) or spacing in the file name or for word separation. The exception is an underscore which Grants.gov says can be used in naming attachments. (example: my_Attached_File.pdf)

If these guidelines are not followed, Grants.gov may reject your proposal.

  1.  Executive Summary

    The executive summary should include the following information and be limited to one page:
    • Name of organization
    • Contact information (headquarters and in-country)
    • Point of contact, titles
    • Project title
    • Countries/regions targeted by project
      · Number and description of direct beneficiaries
    • Proposed period of activity
    • Total dollar amount of project – include a breakdown of the dollar amount requested from PRM, the dollar amount provided through other sources, and the dollar amount of any in-kind contributions
    • Budget summary
    • Brief project description – in one succinct paragraph, describe the problem and how it will be addressed. Also state the goal, expected results and intended impact of the project
  2. Problem Analysis

    This section should provide the rationale and justification for the proposal as follows:

    A. Background
    Describe the anticipated and/or known elements of the humanitarian emergency and/or problem, but only as they relate to the proposed project. Do not provide a general description of the humanitarian situation.

    B. Analysis
    Provide a synthesis of assessments or other descriptive and analytical efforts that have been conducted to determine the nature of the problem. Indicate dates, sources of information, and describe the most critical needs, vulnerabilities, or capacities that were identified.

    C. Profile of the Target Population
    At-risk populations should be qualified by number, current location, health status, length of time in country of first asylum, percentage of beneficiaries who are refugees, IDPs, returnees, etc., demographic characteristics including gender, age, and ethnicity (where political circumstances allow), and any other unique or germane factors distinguishing the population. Please explain, where appropriate, the relationships between direct and indirect beneficiaries. If possible, please use the most recent data and cite sources.

    PRM understands that many NGO projects will focus on mixed communities composed of refugees (or returnees), IDPs and members of the local populations. Nevertheless, a project receiving PRM funding must demonstrate that refugees, returnees and/or displaced persons (the latter in areas where PRM’s IO partners play a lead role) constitute at least 50% of its beneficiary population.

    D. Need
    Show how this proposal fills a gap in UNHCR or another IO’s coverage of the beneficiary population.

  3. Program Description

    This is the core of a proposal. It should clearly and concisely outline the implementation plan for each objective including those elements described below, as appropriate. It should reflect a thorough understanding of the problem described in Section 2.

A. Implementation Plan

For each objective, provide a detailed implementation plan. Identify the targeted population. Describe any goods and services to be provided, and the standard of delivery used (i.e. Sphere). If the standard of delivery differs from an accepted international standard, provide justification for the variance.

B. Suggested Elements

  1.  Context-Specific Programming
    Ensure that the proposal reflects an understanding of the characteristics of a particular humanitarian emergency.
  2. Beneficiary Interaction and Capacity Building Explain how the activity enhances the existing capacities of the beneficiary population. Indicate how the program supports traditional coping mechanisms and involves the targeted population in its design and implementation.
  3. Coordination Effort

    Indicate if this program is part of a larger country program or if it will stand alone. Describe how the program fits into the broader country program, if applicable. Explain efforts to coordinate with UNHCR and other IOs or NGOs to prevent overlap and duplication. Explain how the program will interface with and complement these programs, as applicable.

    Describe what other NGOs and IOs are doing in the same region. Identify any links between their programs and yours, and explain how your activities are coordinated. Describe the proposed program’s possible regional (cross-border) implications.

  4. Local Awareness

    List the precise locations – including camps, provinces, districts, and villages – in which you are proposing to provide assistance. If the locations are not yet known, please explain how the sites will be chosen.

    The proposal should also explain how the NGO will draw upon and support traditional coping mechanisms and involve the targeted population in its design and implementation. Why is the program appropriate to the target population? What efforts are being made to ensure buy-in from the beneficiary population and the host community? Are there some appropriate types of assistance that can be provided to host populations in addition to refugees?

  5. Transition Strategy

    Since PRM provides grants for a maximum of one year, where appropriate (e.g. return and reintegration situations), organizations should explain how their projects will be concluded, handed over to another organization, or financed by other means after PRM funding ends.
    PRM will prioritize proposals that show evidence of coordination with development organizations and that demonstrate transition strategy.

C. Program Goal and Objectives

A. Program Goal and Objectives

Define the goal and describe the objectives of the program. The goal should be your overall statement of intent. The objectives should specify the activities to be undertaken, including the conditions and standards under which they will be accomplished. Organize the proposal based on the stated objectives that, in turn, should be distinct, quantifiable and measurable.

B. Indicators

Provide indicators for assessing progress toward achievement of each objective and explain how they are to be measured. Indicators should be informed by data gathered in baseline surveys. PRM recommends using five indicators or less for each objective. For PRM’s purposes, an indicator should include a target, not merely a measurement category. Thus, if an overall objective is, for example, “provide secondary education to students in Kailahun District,” an appropriate indicator would be “rehabilitate 3 schools” not “number of schools rehabilitated.”

Identify each indicator as an input (process), output, or impact indicator. Input indicators measure activities that help achieve an objective (a level of activity, knowledge or material action). Output indicators measure the extent to which program objectives are being met. For example:

Input indicator - 5 health education sessions conducted in schools targeting 2,000 students
Output Indicator – 2,000 students complete 3 hours of HIV/AIDS education

Impact indicators measure the extent to which the overall goal of a program is being met. For example:

Impact Indicator – 75% of children enrolled in school demonstrate a 50% knowledge gain on methods of HIV transmission as demonstrated in pre- and post-test scores

Impact indicators are the strongest measurement of a program’s impact on beneficiaries and we suggest focusing on impact indicators as much as possible.Each objective should have at least one impact indicator that can be measured in a twelve-month timeframe.

Projects with a health component are strongly encouraged to measure the Crude Mortality Rate for the population and Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in children under age five – two core indicators of the impact of humanitarian assistance. GAM is defined as weight-for-height ratios that are less than 2 standard deviations below the mean (Z score of less than -2), or less than 80% median weight-for-height, or the presence of nutritional edema. PRM requests that, in addition to required program reports, partners share data on CMR, GAM and other health indicators with the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) for inclusion in the online Complex Emergencies Database (CE-DAT) by emailing it to contact@cedat.be. The CE-DAT database can be accessed online at http://www.cred.be/cedat/index.htm

If PRM funds your project, these objectives and indicators will be formally written into the cooperative agreement and be used by PRM to evaluate the impact of your project. We expect that your organization will also self-evaluate based on the same set of indicators in your program reporting requirements. Consultations between PRM and the NGO may be necessary in order to arrive at an effective and mutually satisfactory set of objectives and indicators.

C. Monitoring and Performance Measurement

A. Monitoring and Evaluation Plan

Describe your monitoring and evaluation plan. Include, at a minimum, the following elements in the description:

1. A timeline to help PRM track the program’s progress.

2. Indicators and details on how they will be measured, including frequency of the measurements, units of measure, dates when indicators will be met, etc.

3. Monitoring and evaluation tools such as clinic records, rapid assessment surveys, site visits, key stakeholder interviews, focus group discussions, interview logs, timelines, progress reports, etc.

4. Organizations that recently received PRM funding should also include an assessment of their programs’ success in meeting their goals and objectives with an up-to-date, cumulative progress report against indicators as outlined in the cooperative agreement. Organizations should describe problems they encountered and explain how they were addressed.

B. Performance Measurement

Establish, where possible, performance baseline data and expected performance targets for each objective, by which indicators are used to measure progress and assess impact.

D. Codes of Conduct

Proposals must include a copy of the NGO’s Codes of Conduct (which should be consistent with the IASC’s six core principles), and a discussion of how the codes of conduct will be reflected in project implementation.

PRM encourages NGO partners to attach a separate document or include a narrative with the organization's procedures for responding to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of beneficiaries by staff. If you do not yet have a plan or procedures in place, please contact the Bureau for information on contacts and resources.

E.  Management and Security

A. Program Management

Provide details on the following areas of the program’s management:

1. Describe the organization’s management structure and how it will be used to achieve the stated objectives.

2. Provide examples of past performance that demonstrate the

organization’s success in implementing similar programs.

B. Security

All proposals should briefly describe the security environment in the area of operation, how the organization manages risk to its international and national staff and how the program would respond to a deterioration of the security situation. PRM strongly recommends that NGOs adhere to the UN’s security protocol in any given location and use InterAction’s Security Planning Guidelines. PRM will consider requests to fund security requirements on a case-by-case basis. All security incidents or threats involving NGO staff should be promptly reported to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Office of the U.N. Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD), in addition to the relevant U.S. Embassy. Failure to maintain adequate security precautions may result in suspension of PRM funding.

D. Budget

A budget summary should include major categories, such as personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual, other direct costs, and indirect cost. Also, include a detailed budget that is broken down by each objective of the proposed program. Where possible, indicate budget lines by sector of activity. Staffing and office needs often cannot be easily allotted to specific objectives/sectors and can be given for the whole program, if more appropriate. Be sure the budget also includes a breakdown of the dollar amount requested from PRM, the dollar amount(s) anticipated or received from other sources (including your own organization and other donors) and the dollar amount of any in-kind contributions. Indicate clearly the funding source for each activity.
The proposal must include a budget narrative with sufficient details by sector and activity.
Identify subgrantees and the dollar amount to each, if applicable, and in the case of health/family planning activities, indicate whether those subgrantees are foreign-based.

E.  Administrative Requirements

All submissions must include the following:

  • Original proposal
  • Copy of the organization’s U.S. Government Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA), if applicable
  • Completed SF-424 Version 02 showing expiration date of January 31, 2009 (Application for Federal Assistance)
  • Completed budget summary and detail along with a budget narrative
  • Information in support of any cost-sharing/cost-matching arrangements
  • Information detailing the source of any in-kind contributions
  • Details on any sub-agreements associated with the program (should be part of the budget submission as noted above)
  • Copy of the organization’s Code of Conduct, which should be consistent with the IASC’s six core principles
  • If the organization has not previously received funding from PRM prior to the USG fiscal year ending September 30, 2004, copies of 1) the most recent external financial audit, 2) proof of non-profit tax status including under IRS 501 (c)(3), as applicable, 3) DUNS Number, and 4) Employer ID number (EIN)/Federal Tax Identification Number

Please integrate this documentation into as few files as possible.


Most PRM offices require two program reports describing and evaluating the activities undertaken during the validity period of the agreement. The first should cover the initial four (4) month period of the agreement and the second should cover the final eight (8) month period.

Reporting requirements may vary but will not be required more than once per quarter.

Reports should include the following information:

1. Cover Page

The cover page may include the following information and should be limited to one page:

  • Program Title
  • Agreement Number
  • Name of Organization
  • Country/Regions
  • Project Duration (twelve months or less)
  • Reporting Period
  • Contact information (headquarters and in-country)
  • Program Goal
  • Program Objectives

2. Executive Summary

3. Program Objectives, Indicators, and Results

Each report should contain a statement of the goal and objectives of the program and the extent to which they were accomplished based on the indicators set forth in the proposal, including achievements, shortfalls, changes in the target population and its composition, and information regarding any obstacles encountered and measures that were taken to resolve the problems. The Recipient should also describe how the refugee context may be changing (e.g., repatriation accelerating or stalling), and recognize any staffing limitations, security arrangements or other situations that may impact the timely implementation of the program.

It is useful to list each objective, followed by the indicators for that objective (as outlined in the cooperative agreement). Please identify whether the indicator is an input (process), output or impact (outcome) indicator and describe the specific results and activities accomplished for each of the indicators outlined.

4. Collaboration/Coordination

Information on program involvement with the host government as well as other NGOs, UN and IOs should be included. The reports should also describe how the activities relate to complementary humanitarian assistance funded by other USG agencies.

5. Conclusion

Each report should also note any changes made or anticipated with regard to staffing requirements, security arrangements or other aspects of the funded program. Should any change or anticipated change affect the use of funds or the rate of expenditure, special mention should be highlighted in this section.

In addition to the regular reports described above, partners are required to inform the Bureau, in writing, should any special circumstance be encountered that are likely to delay or prevent partners from meeting the objectives.

Financial reports are also required within forty-five (45) days following the end of each calendar year quarter during the validity period of the agreement. A final financial report covering the entire period of the agreement is required within ninety (90) days after the expiration date of the agreement. For agreements containing indirect costs, final financial reports are due within 60 days of the finalization of the applicable negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA).

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