Trends in Global Affairs Canada’s Partnerships with CSOs
Updated November 2017
1. Overview of Global Affairs Canada’s support for CSOs Go to this section
1.2 Broad trends in support for CSOs from Global Affairs Canada
2. Global Affairs Canada Branch Disbursements through CSOs Go to this section
2.1 CSO disbursements through Partnerships for Development Innovations Branch
2.2 CSO disbursements through Geographic Regional Bilateral Branches & Global Issues and Development Branch
3. Global Affairs Canada Disbursements through CSOs for Humanitarian Assistance Go to this section
4. Calls-for-proposals with CSOs by Global Affair’s Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch: Impacts on CSOs since 2010 Go to this section
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have been key partners in development cooperation with CIDA/DFATD/GAC (Global Affairs Canada) over the past 45 years. These partnerships have evolved from one-off grants in support of CSO projects in the 1970s to significant and diverse programmatic funding relationships since the mid-1980s.
However, in July 2010, the Minister for Development Cooperation decided to end programmatic funding for many Canadian CSOs. Following this policy shift in 2010, CIDA/DFATD (now Global Affairs Canada) implemented a number of competitive “calls-for-proposals,” which benefited some CSOs able to apply and successful in their bids. But for many Canadian CSOs long-standing partnerships with CIDA/DFATD were not renewed, and funding for many organizations from this source has declined.
Since the Liberal Government assumed power in October 2015, there has been increased support for “unsolicited proposals,” but calls-for-proposals” remain an important funding mechanism for the Government.
a) Partnerships for Development Innovations Branch,
b) Geographic Branches (bilateral programs supporting the priority countries), and
c) Global Issues and Development Branch (support for multilateral initiatives and humanitarian assistance).
a) Partnerships for Development Innovations Branch (PDI) Since 1968, a wide diversity of Canadian and International CSOs have received primary support through a dedicated Partnership Branch of CIDA, since renamed Partnership with Canadians Branch (2010) and then Partnerships for Development Innovations (2014).
b) Regional Geographic Bilateral Programs Branches In the mid-1980s, the President of CIDA, Marcel Massé, initiated bilateral “country focus” programs through which CSO-initiated large-scale projects received support from a variety of bilateral country programs in CIDA/DFATD/GAC Geographic Branches. While initiated by CSOs, these projects have been consistent with GAC’s bilateral country priorities and strategies and are considered part of the portfolio of Canada’s bilateral country-to-country programs. There are currently four regional geographic Branches in Global Affairs — 1) Sub-Saharan Africa, 2) Europe, Middle East and Maghreb, 3) Americas, and 4) Asia Pacific.
c) Global Issues and Development Branch CSOs also have received support for emergency and humanitarian assistance programming through CIDA’s Multilateral Branch, now Global Affairs Canada’s Global Issues and Development Branch. In recent years, a number of Canadian CSOs, with considerable humanitarian experience, have had a standing relationship with the Branch for quick disbursement of funds in sudden-onset emergencies.
1.2 Broad trends in support for CSOs from Global Affairs Canada
Increasing total disbursements through CSOs, particularly since 2014/15 Total disbursements by Global Affairs Canada (formerly DFATD and CIDA) through CSOs have been on an upward trend since 2010, both in current dollars (increasing from $685 million in 2010/11 to $943 million in 2015/16 or by 38%) and in the value of these disbursements in constant 2015 dollars (increasing from $745 million in 2010/11 to $943 million in 2015/16 or by 27%). The value of these disbursements in 2015/16 are the highest level since 2008/09 ($916 million).
Since 2010 disbursements through foreign CSOs has been an increasing proportion of CIDA/GAC’s disbursements to CSOs, growing from 15% in 2010/11 to 21% in 2015/16. Much of this growth in foreign CSO disbursements has been related to the delivery of humanitarian assistance (see below).
Nevertheless, Canadian CSOs have also experienced this trend in increased levels of disbursements, albeit more modestly, in current dollars (from $583 million in 2010/11 to $741 million in 2014/15 or by 27%).
In the year since 2014/15, the value of Canadian ODA in constant 2015 dollars, delivered through Canadian CSOs, has grown significantly by 17%. This growth has been a sharp reversal of the trend from 2010/11 up to 2014/15, when this value had declined and then stagnated at $657 million in 2014/15, similar to the level in 2010/11 (under the former Conservative government).
See History of Disbursements through Canadian CSOs in Current Dollars (excluding disbursements through foreign CSOs)
See Value of Disbursements in 2015 dollars through Canadian CSOs (excluding disbursements through foreign CSOs)
Disbursements through CSOs for long term development projects declines CSO delivery of GAC humanitarian assistance has played a very large role in recent increased GAC disbursements through CSOs (see below). The value of GAC disbursements (in 2015 dollars) through Canadian CSOs for long term development projects and programs has been declining since 2008/09. In 2015/16 the value of these disbursements were $560 million, down 12% since 2010/11 ($501 million). However, 2015/16 represented a significant reversal of this downward trend, increasing from a low of $456 million to $560 million in one year.
The impact of the increasing role of Canadian CSOs in humanitarian assistance is also evident when examining the annual share of disbursements through CSOs (all Branches) as a percentage of total GAC program disbursements. For Canadian CSOs (and for all CSOs, including foreign CSOs) this share has varied considerably from year to year due largely to changes in levels of humanitarian assistance.
Recently, for Canadian CSOs, their share of GAC disbursements has increased from a low of 15% in 2011/12 to a current share of 22% in 2015/16. But when humanitarian assistance is excluded (i.e. looking at funding for long term development through CSOs), there was little variation in this share between 2010/11 and 2013/14 (16% to 17%) for Canadian CSOs’ programming. But since 2013/14, this share has increased slowly from 17% to 21% in 2015/16.
Trends in CSO financing as reflected in GAC Branch disbursements through CSOs Finally, these trends are equally visible in an overview of the level of disbursements through CSOs for the various Branches of Global Affairs Canada. Since 2008/09, there has been a significant increase in disbursements to CSOs from Global Issues and Development Branch, which manages Canada’s humanitarian assistance. Other Branches remain relatively constant with yearly variations (Geographic Bilateral Branches) or have been in a long term decline in the value of disbursements since 1990 (Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch). See below for more on the trends in disbursements through these various Branches.
Data calculated and posted November 2017.
2.1 CSO Disbursements through Partnerships for Development Innovations Branch
Dedicated support for CSO partnerships has been the mandate of this Branch (formerly Partnerships Branch in CIDA) for more than four decades. It is the primary, and often the only, source for CIDA/DFATD/GAC financing for the majority of small and medium sized Canadian CSOs. Larger CSOs have had a long history of support in their evolution as development actors from this Branch, but have also had access to specific country and humanitarian resources from other Branches of CIDA/DFATD/GAC.
Since 2010, total disbursements to all CSOs (Canadian and Foreign) through this Branch had been declining, particularly since 2012/13. But for 2015/16 disbursements increased by 37% over 2014/15, representing a high since 2010/11:
2010/11: $217 million
2011/12: $239 million
2012/13: $237 million
2013/14: $210 million
2014/15: $175 million
2015/16: $239 million
Declining value of disbursements from Partnerships Branch These trends in disbursements for Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch are part of a longer trend of decline in the value of disbursements for CSOs (in 2015 dollars) from the Branch, whose mandate has been exclusively focused on CSO partnerships. Even in 2000/01 the value of these disbursements was just over $300 million. By 2014/15 these disbursements had declined in value to $177 million, a decline of 32% since 2005/06 ($259 million). But with the significant increase in 2015/16, the value of these disbursements has recovered to the level achieved in 2010/11 ($236 million).
Partnership Branch’s declining share of GAC programming disbursements Another measure of the Branch’s importance for GAC’s partnerships with CSOs is its overall share in total GAC programming disbursements. Prior to 2000/01, this share was above 10%. But since 2005/06 it has been declining from 8% to a mere 5% in 2014/15. In 2015/16 Partnerships Branch share recovered to 7%.
Numbers of CSOs supported by the Branch have sharply declined In 2000/01 the Branch provided support for 382 Canadian CSOs. An additional number (53) of international Foreign CSOs were also supported. By 2010/11 the number of Canadian CSOs supported had declined to 257 organizations. In 2015/16 a mere 134 Canadian organizations had a partnership with the Branch, a decline of of close to 50% over 5 years since 2010/11. These shifts in organizational priorities for GAC’s Partnerships Branch have had a profound impact on the long term financing for many Canadian CSOs, particularly for small and medium sized CSOs (SMOs). The latter have been largely frozen out of GAC support, particularly since 2010/11 when then CIDA shifted to an exclusive call for proposal financing mechanism (see below). This trend for SMOs may be reversed in 2017/18 as GAC implements its $100 million special fund, over five years, dedicated to small and medium-sized Canadian organizations.
Share of the top 10 CSOs in disbursements by Partnerships Branch has increased While the number of organizations supported by the Branch has declined markedly, a corresponding concentration of Branch disbursements in the top 10 CSO recipients has increased, from 35% in 2005/06 to 47% in 2015/16.
The number of smaller contributions from the Branch has also decreased significantly The total number of contributions have shrunk significantly between 2010/11 (257) and 2015/16 (134). Smaller Branch grants and contributions are the main target for reductions and these tended to be directed to small and medium sized organizations. The number of contributions of less than $500,000 has fallen by 66% between 2010/11 (181) and 2015/16 (62). The number of disbursements over $5 million have remained relatively constant (9 in 2010/11 and 13 in 2015/16), which tend to go to larger CSOs. The number of contributions between $500,000 and $5 million have also shrunk somewhat from 67 in 2010/11 to 59 in 2015/16.
Support for development education and public awareness drops off precipitously Promoting development awareness is supposedly an important aspect of the mandate of the Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch. However, disbursements through Canadian CSOs for this purpose has been an insignificant and declining priority for GAC since 2005. The value of these disbursements (in 2015 dollars) reached a low of $8.2 million in 2014/15. The highest value of these disbursements was in 2008/09 at $18.6 million.
This declining support is also indicated on the side of Canadian CSOs, with a declining proportion of GAC-funded CSOs allocating more than 10% of their GAC disbursements to promotion of development awareness. Between 2010/11 and 2015/16, the numbers of Canadian CSOs allocating more than 10% has declined both in absolute numbers (from 87 to 13) and as a share of the number of GAC-funded CSOs through the Branch (from 34% to 10%).
Disbursements by the Branch for development awareness were also increasingly concentrated in a few organizations. By 2015/16, half of disbursements for development awareness went to the Provincial and Regional Councils and Volunteer Sending Organizations, leaving 48% implemented by other CSOs. [AidWatch Canada calculations based on GAC Historical Projects Dataset, various years]
Data calculated and posted, November 2017.
2.2 CSO Disbursements through Geographic Regional Bilateral Branches & Global Issues and Development Branch
Regional Geographic Bilateral Branches
The Bilateral Branches of Global Affairs maintain Canada’s country-to-country assistance programs, which are established through GAC’s country strategies. Historically these programs have been concentrated in a number of priority countries. But since 2015, the Liberal Government has abandoned the notion of priority countries. While developing country governments are a primary implementing partner for bilateral country programs, CSOs have also become significant implementing partners for projects on behalf of Global Affairs Canada. These projects must fall within the programming priorities of GAC’s country program strategies.
Value of bilateral disbursements through CSOs has varied over time The value of disbursements (in 2015 dollars) from the Bilateral Regional Branches to Canadian CSOs is variable from year to year as country programs consider particular CSOs as partners to deliver GAC country program priorities. The overall trend line for the value of these disbursements over the past 15 years has been in the $200 million to $300 million range. In 2014/15, the value of these disbursements ($215 million) was at the same level as 2010, but had recovered from a low of $174 million in 2012/13. It increased to $294 million in 2015/16.
Increasing trend in the share of bilateral disbursements Within these Branches, the share of CSOs in disbursements has increased slightly over the past 15 years. As a share of total bilateral disbursements, those through CSOs have increased from 15% in 2010 to 24% in 2013/14, and a high of 29% in 2015/16.
Global Issues and Development Branch
The main purpose for disbursements to CSOs for the Global Issues Branch is in support of humanitarian assistance and emergency relief implemented by these CSOs.
CSO disbursements by Global Issues Branch has been growing steadily The trend for CSOs disbursements through Global Issues has been increasing over the past 20 years. But there has also been considerable variation from year to year given the episodic nature of natural disasters and humanitarian responses. Between 2012/13 and 2014/15, the value of these disbursements increased substantially for Canadian CSOs by 75% (from $145 million to $253 million), largely due to increased requirements to respond to humanitarian situations in the Middle East. But in 2015/15 these disbursements through Canadian CSO dropped by 16% to $213 million.
Since 2010/11 Global Issues Branch disbursements through foreign CSOs have been increasing steadily from $53 million to $117 million in 2015/16. These disbursements to foreign CSOs grew from 21% of Branch disbursements to all CSOs in 2010/11 to 35% in 2015/16.
Share in Global Issues disbursements growing A more accurate measure of the importance of CSOs in Canada’s humanitarian responses has been the share of CSO disbursements from Global Issues as a percentage of total Global Issues disbursements. In 2015/16, CSOs (both Canadian and Foreign) are implementing 18% of Global Issues Branch total disbursements, up from between 11% and 13% in 2011 and 2012 fiscal years. This share in 2015/16 was down slightly from 20% and 21% in 2013 and 2014 fiscal years.
Number of Canadian CSOs supported by Bilateral and Global Issues Branches
Steep declines in the numbers of CSOs receiving funding from Bilateral Branches Despite the robust support for CSOs by both Bilateral Branches and Global Issues Branch, there has been a concentration of this support among fewer CSOs. Similar to the trend in Partnerships Branch, there has been a significant decline in the number of Canadian CSOs funded by the Bilateral Branches – a 50% decline since 2005 and 20% since 2010. In 2010/11, 84 Canadian CSO received funding from the Bilateral Branches, while in 2015/16, this number was 67 organizations (up from 38 in 2014/15). However, the number of Canadian CSOs financed through Global Issues Branch has remained relatively stable in comparison – declining by 40% since 2005, but rising slightly from 44 organizations in 2010/11 to 51 organizations in 2015/16.
Data calculated and posted, November 2017.
3. Global Affairs Canada Disbursements through CSOs for Humanitarian Assistance
Canadian and international (foreign) CSOs have increased their roles in responding to humanitarian emergencies across the world. Increased attention to humanitarian action is reflected in GAC disbursement through CSOs.
CSO humanitarian disbursements have been rising in recent years The value of humanitarian assistance (in 2015 dollars) has increased by 74% from 2010 to 2015, from $167 million to $290 million. But the types of CSOs delivering humanitarian assistance has changed during this period. Foreign international CSOs have increased their role in GAC humanitarian assistance, increasing from $35 million in disbursements in 2010 to $97 million in 2015. Nevertheless, the value of humanitarian assistance disbursements through Canadian CSOs has also increased significantly since 2010, by more than 45% (from $133 million to $193 million).
Disbursements to CSOs for humanitarian assistance increasing as share of GAC humanitarian assistance By 2015, CSOs were implementing a record share (42%) of GAC’s humanitarian assistance, up from 34% in 2014/15. But as noted above, much of this increased role is accounted for by increased disbursements through foreign international CSOs since 2010, growing from 6% in 2010 to 14% in 2015. For Canadian CSOs, humanitarian disbursements were 22% of GAC humanitarian disbursements in 2010/11, 24% in 2014/15, and 28% in 2015/16.
Humanitarian action has been a growing area for CSO partnerships with GAC Disbursements for humanitarian action on the part of CSOs has been a growing share of disbursements for CSOs by GAC. In 2010 23% of total GAC disbursements through CSOs (both Canadian and Foreign) was for humanitarian assistance and this percentage has grown to 31% in 2015/16. For Canadian CSOs, these humanitarian disbursements represented a mere 9% of CSO disbursements from GAC in 2005/06, but 21% in 2010/11, and 26% in 2015/16 (down from a record 33% in 2013/14. The corresponding trend towards a decline in GAC support for long term development programming by Canadian CSOs is noted above.
Modest growth in support by Canadian CSOs for disaster preparedness and longer term reconstruction from GAC While timely, sufficient and immediate humanitarian response is essential, many CSOs globally call for increased investment in disaster preparedness to minimize natural disasters when they occur and longer-term reconstruction following an emergency. Since 2010/11, there has been an increase in GAC disbursements through Canadian CSOs for relief coordination, reconstruction and preparedness, representing 20% of GAC CSO disbursements for Canadian CSO humanitarian assistance in 2015/16. This performance represents an increase from 11% in 2014/15. Investment in disaster preparedness and prevention alone has been more modest, rising from almost nothing to 7% of Canadian CSO humanitarian disbursements in 2011/12, and increasing to 8% in 2015/16.
High concentration among large Canadian CSOs for humanitarian disbursements There is a high concentration of GAC disbursements for humanitarian assistance among select large Canadian humanitarian actors. Ten Canadian CSOs have been the avenue for 74% of these disbursements over the six-year period from 2010/11 to 2015/16. GAC has a standing offer with a number of proven humanitarian actors for quick action responses to humanitarian emergencies. As noted above, Canadian CSOs have been providing more than 25% of all humanitarian assistance in the past three years (2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16), which is driven in recent years by Canada’s commitment to support refugees and displaced people in the Middle East.
In the past three years (2013/14 to 2015/16), the International Committee of the Red Cross received a cumulative total of $190 million in humanitarian disbursements from GAC and Mercy Corporation received $27 million. These two organizations accounted for 78% and 11% of total GAC humanitarian disbursements for foreign international CSOs for these three years. As noted above these GAC contributions have been grown for foreign CSOs relative to Canadian CSOs in recent years.
Country priorities for CSO humanitarian assistance shifts with GAC and global humanitarian priorities The country allocation of GAC humanitarian assistance delivered through Canadian CSOs is well represented by significant humanitarian emergencies from Haiti and Pakistan in the early part of this decade, to the Philippines, the Middle East and South Sudan in recent years. The most significant scale of assistance over the six years has been to the Middle East, with disbursements through Canadian CSOs to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq making up 30% of the six-year total of humanitarian disbursements through these CSOs.
Data calculated and posted, November 2017.
4. Calls-for-proposals with CSOs by Global Affairs’s Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch: Impacts on CSOs since 2010
CIDA/DFATD/GAC (subsequently referred to as Global Affairs Canada) has supported the programs and projects with a large number of Canadian CSOs for more than 40 years. As noted in sections above, since the 1980s, these organizations have had access to funding windows in bilateral country programs, in multilateral humanitarian assistance as well as in a dedicated Branch, which is now called Partnerships for Development Innovations (PDI) Branch.
Since the late 1980s, CIDA’s Partnership Branch supported multi-year contribution agreements in support of the development programs of a wide diversity of medium-size and large Canadian CSOs, which had a strong track-record in development cooperation. For smaller organizations, CIDA had a number of funding windows that focused on specific projects proposed by these organizations, including projects in public engagement in Canada.
All of these funding mechanisms were highly responsive to the programmatic and project priorities of Canadian CSO partners and their counterparts in developing countries.
But in July 2010, Bev Oda, the Minister for International Cooperation, announced that Partnership Branch would disburse its funding for CSOs exclusively through the “call-for-proposal” mechanism, abandoning the diversity of responsive funding modalities that had existed over these 40 years. For a reaction and defense of prior funding modalities see an analysis from the Canadian Council for International Cooperation in 2010.
What has been the impact on Canadian CSOs with this dramatic change of approach?
The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) has implemented two surveys of its membership (2012 and 2014) on the impacts of the call-for-proposals and the abandonment of diverse funding modalities. Access and read the key findings of these two surveys.
The 2014 CCIC study concluded that in the three years since implementing this funding policy many Canadian CSOs faced sharp funding reductions from Global Affairs Canada. Sudden drops in revenue required more than half of 138 surveyed CSOs in 2014 to make significant cuts in the diversity of activities that they supported in developing countries, with 46% cutting long-standing partnerships, and 43% implementing major staffing reductions.
Several additional trends are noted in these surveys:
A significant reduction in the stability of funding from Global Affairs The CCIC/Councils’ Members Survey in 2014 noted that 41% of Canadian CSO members of these Councils, which had had a sustained history of many years receiving CIDA/DFATD funding, were not receiving funding in 2014. No successful, or unable to compete, many of these CSOs have had significant reductions in the resources available for their work. But in addition, episodic access to GAC funding through calls-for-proposals, largely on a project basis, has affected their capacities to plan long term partnerships based on these resources. It is notable that 71% of small organizations that had received CIDA/DFATD funding were no longer receiving DFATD funding in 2014.
Close to half of Canadian CSOs surveyed had declining revenue between 2010 and 2014 Just over half of the organizations surveyed reported that their revenue increased or stayed the same between 2010 and 2014. The remaining 44% reported declining revenue during this period. This decline in revenue was unevenly distributed among these CSOs. Among large organizations, only 8 out of 28 (13%) reported that their revenue had decreased. While 48% of small organizations and 29% of medium sized organizations reported decreased revenue over these three years. Declining revenue from CIDA/DAFTD were the primary reasons reported for declining revenue, while improved private fundraising was the most common reason for increased revenue.
See Changes in Total Revenue for Surveyed CSOs between 2010 and 2014 (CCIC/ICN Survey)
See Trends in Total Revenue by Size of Organization between 2010 and 2014 (CCIC/ICN Survey)
Large organizations much more successful in calls-for-proposals The outcomes of calls-for-proposals for Canadian CSOs has been highly biased towards larger CSOs (those with total revenue greater than $5 million). Between 2010 and 2014, 56% of these organizations in the CCIC/Councils Survey were successful in a call competition, compared to 33% of medium sized organizations (total revenue between $500,000 and $5 million), and only 15% of small organizations (total revenue less than $500,000). Among small organizations, almost 80% indicated that they were not able to submit a project in a call, compared to 51% for medium organization and 40% for large organizations.
Data calculated and updated March 2017.