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
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
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.
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.