Civil Society Programme Funding

Irish Aid has a track record in providing multi-annual programme support to Irish non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through a variety of funding streams.  In 2011, a number of Irish Aid NGO partners of sufficient organisational size and with a record of sound grant management were invited to apply for funding through a new multi-annual programme grant.


What is programme funding?

Our programme grant is a performance-based partnership arrangement that primarily we have with a number of Irish NGOs. The grant has a strong focus on quality programming, understanding how positive change happens and delivering results for poor households and communities in countries of operation.

The programme grant also recognises the role that Irish NGOs play in engaging with the Irish public on development issues and in building better understanding and commitment to development co-operation and global citizenship.

Why we provide programme funding?

The programme grant enables us to achieve our policy objectives under the White Paper on Irish Aid and the Irish Aid Civil Society Policy 2008 (PDF, 428kb). This includes facilitating and encouraging civil society to develop and function.

The overall aim of the programme grant is to support a programme of work that can encompass a range of countries and sectors and that also contributes to real change for poor and marginalised people. 

Through partnerships with NGOs, we support people to participate in the development of their communities and to influence decisions that affect them at local, regional or national levels. Read an overview of the purpose of the programme grant (PDF, 460kb).

How we achieve our objectives through the programme grant

Each NGO partner’s programme of work is based on its own strategic plan and it sets out a clear understanding of how it plans to deliver a positive impact for households and communities in developing countries. 

Core approaches to programme delivery include working through partners at community, district and national level. The programme grant provides support and contributes to results in a range of areas, including:

Livelihoods and hunger: tackling hunger through better agricultural production and market access for the rural poor leading to increased income

Water and sanitation: working with communities to improve and manage water resources and sanitation infrastructure and hygiene practices

Women’s empowerment and gender equality: improving women’s control over decision making, economic opportunities and access to public services

Education: working with governments to increase student enrolment, retention and completion rates in schools, and promoting a favourable learning environment

Health: improving maternal and child health and reducing malnutrition through working with governments to improve health services

HIV and AIDS: to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS, and assist those infected/affected by HIV through improving prevention, mitigation and treatment interventions

Human rights: to ensure that human rights defenders are protected from human rights abuses and violence, and to promote access to justice and human rights for vulnerable groups

Governance: empowering poor and marginalised groups to influence decisions that affect them whether at local, regional or national levels.

Disaster Risk Reduction: increasing the resilience of communities to economic and environmental shocks and improving their ability to respond to disasters. 

Programme partners

Who are our programme partners?

Eighteen NGO partners of sufficient organisational size and with a record of sound grant management were successful in applying for a new round of programme grants. 

This grant cycle will run from January 2012 to December 2015, with the end date coinciding with the end date of the Millennium Development Goals

The 2012 programme grant budget is €65 million. In 2012, the following allocations were made:

Action Aid Ireland




Camara Education


Childfund Ireland


Children in Crossfire


Christian Aid Ireland


Concern Worldwide


Frontline Defenders




HelpAge International  


Oxfam Ireland


Plan Ireland




Self Help Africa






VSO Ireland


World Vision Ireland


Focussing on results

Each programme grant is based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and an agreed set of results.  These results are monitored on an annual basis to determine if they are on track or off track.

In their annual report, programme partners outline the changes to which programme funding has contributed during the period. The annual report also highlights changes in the operating contexts for the NGO programmes that may have affected the attainment of intended results.

In summary, Irish Aid’s programme grant monitoring strategy encompass four key elements:

  1. Annual review of agreed results
  2. Annual meetings with NGOs to assess annual plans, revised results, budgets and expenditure
  3. Review of partners’ organisational, financial and governance information
  4. Monitoring of programmes at field level

Read more about Civil Society funding

See Annex 18 of the Irish Aid Annual Report 2011 for a list of organisations that received funding through the main civil society funding schemes administered by Irish Aid HQ. 

Annex 18a - AR2011Annex 18b - AR2011Annex 18c - AR2011Annex 18d - AR2011