Skip navigation.

Core Concepts - Resources: Getting an Early Start

Initial discussions with donors about possible financial support for electoral assistance should start during the needs assessment phase. More detailed negotiations will ensue once programme arrangements, the related project budget and donor positions have become clearer.

Donors may choose to fund electoral assistance in different ways. Usually, they work through direct bilateral support of the respective governments, through civil society or the UN, or a combination of the two. Regardless of how funding is channeled, close coordination and information sharing among all partners helps keep assistance timely and efficient.

There are several basic scenarios for support. Programmes should be prepared for factors such as potential shortfalls and delays.

Scenarios for support
When donors decide to provide funding through UNDP, it is received and managed based on several scenarios:

  • Cost-sharing is a co-financing modality under which contributions can be received for specific UNDP projects in line with UNDP policies, aims and activities. One of its main advantages is that funds are relatively easy to manage. Cost-sharing arrangements are the primary means through which basket fund are operationalized (see below).
  • Creation of a new trust fund is another possibility, though not common for electoral assistance projects, unless dealing with a donor who only uses trust funds (such as the European Commission which only contributes to UNDP baskets through the closed trust fund modality). A trust fund is a co-financing modality established as a separate accounting entity under which UNDP receives contributions to finance UNDP programme activities specified by the donor. To be established, trust funds must go through a clearance process involving various units at headquarters including clearance from the Associate Administrator.
  • UNDP's Global Programme on Electoral Cycle Support (GPECS) was launched in July 2009. It is a three-year programme that is designed for support to initiatives that take an electoral cycle approach. It has a provision of Country Window to support country-level electoral cycle projects financially. See GPECS Project Document and GPECS Country Window Guidelines for programme detail and procedure for utilization of Country Window component.
  • Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF) is another means through which electoral assistance projects can be supported. DGTTF is managed by the Bureau of Development Policy and since the inception of the DGTTF fund, about 10% of the fund have been allocated for various electoral assistance projects of UNDP.

Basket fund arrangements, where donors and partners provide funding through a UNDP project document (often under a common memorandum of understanding), can be established to better coordinate programme implementation, particularly in complex and politically sensitive environments. They can use either cost sharing or trust fund modalities.

Under the second scenario for funding, resources are received and managed on the basis of a multi-donor trust fund that includes UNDP. This is established based on pass-through arrangements under UN Development Group joint programmes. The legal basis is the joint programme document or terms of reference for the trust fund that have been developed by participating UN organizations and the country government. UNDP standard cost-sharing and trust fund templates cannot be used.

Multi-donor trust funds apply mainly to large peacekeeping or UN political missions in post-crisis or transition environments. A multi-donor trust fund is being used in Sierra Leone to support the electoral cycle there from 2010 to 2014.

"Parallel Funding" is another Option
There are some donors/development agencies that normally do not channel funds through UN electoral assistance projects. Typical examples are USAID and JICA, but other donors may prefer direct implementation depending on implementation capacities they have in a country.

In such situations, parallel funding is an option. By having a well-coordinated approach with donors, UNDP and donors/development agencies can simultaneously offer electoral assistance with a clear division of labor. Well-planned parallel funding can release UNDP from the funding burden of particular project activities, and therefore allows UNDP to deploy its own core and non-core resources to other activities, resulting in a similar effect to cost-sharing in resource mobilization.

Being prepared
Funding options should be discussed with potential donors early on, and agreements drafted accordingly. Be prepared for initial delays by discussing the possibility of allocating more TRAC resources with senior management in the country office. Keeping senior managers apprised of the volume of disbursements helps ensure that adequate administrative support is in place.

Funding arrangements can be time consuming and subject to delays that affect project delivery. Under-subscription is also a risk. Programme documents should anticipate these issues, including in terms of providing guidance on priorities if shortfalls arise.

See also Steps to Mobilize Resources for Elections. Additional information on resource mobilization and donor coordination is provided in UNDP’s Resource Mobilization Toolkit.

Elections, Electoral, Electoral Cycle, Electoral Law, Voter registration, Civic Education, Voter Education, Public Outreach, Turnout, Voter, Political Party, Political Parties, Electoral Observation, Basket funds, Resource Mobilization, Fund Management, Electoral Procurement, Election Materials, UNDP, United Nations Development Programme, Implementation, Electoral Assistance, Partnership, Capacity Development, Needs Assessment, Risk Assessment, Terms of Reference, ToRs, Electoral Budget, Electoral Planning, Electoral Management Body, EMB, Project Development, Note of Guidance, Guidance, ACE Electoral Knowledge Network, ACE, BRIDGE, Building Resources in Democracy Governance and Elections, EC-UNDP Partnership, EC-UNDP Operational guidelines, Electoral Administration, Gender