Assessment criteria 

To be considered, the total annual programme portfolio in ODA-approved countries must be at least NOK 100 million OR a minimum of NOK 50 million in grant from Norad/the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/the Ministry of Climate and the Environment for programme activities in ODA-approved countries in at least one of the past three calendar years/fiscal years. Both Norwegian and international civil society organisations may be considered for strategic partner cooperation. For international federations and membership organisation established in Norway, the assessment will solely focus on the Norwegian part of the operations. 

The following criteria applies to Norad's assessment of which organisations qualify as a strategic civil society partner: 

  1. The applicant has expertise in one or more of the thematic and geographical priority areas in Norwegian development policy and Norad’s thematic portfolios.

    The applicant must specify the thematic and geographical areas they seek to be assessed on. Only areas in line with the priority areas in Norwegian development policy and Norad’s thematic portfolios are eligible. Expertise will be assessed based on previous experience and results.  

    The applicant must be able to document competence and capacity in thematic and geographical areas throughout the entire grant management cycle, including sub-grantees/implementing partners. 

  2. The applicant takes an overarching strategic programme approach to its development cooperation work. Norad will emphasise its previous experiences with the partner’s ability to focus on the effect for large target groups (outcome level) and to organise the project portfolio into overarching thematically and logically structured programmes.  

    The applicant must demonstrate the ability to communicate their efforts at an overarching and strategic level. The applicant must have clear objectives, a strategy to achieve the objectives, and the ability to implement the strategic plans into operations.

  3. The applicant has an established and sound results management and learning system (for example, documented in an MEL plan). 

    The applicant must be able to document its system for results-based management through policies, templates, guidance's etc. that covers the entire grant management cycle, including sub-grantees/implementing partners. The applicant must describe responsibilities and systems in place for obtaining results information, including process documentation. The applicant must describe systems to ensure learning, including process documentation and lessons learned.

    The applicant must be able to document competence and capacity in results-based management, learning and evaluation throughout the entire grant management cycle, including sub-grantees/implementing partners. 

  4. The applicant has integrated climate and environmental considerations throughout its operations. The applicant has a plan which allows for documenting year-by-year progress in reducing its principal negative impact on climate and the environment and to increase its positive environmental impact. The documentation focuses on actual compliance. 

    The applicant must be able to document that climate and environmental considerations have been integrated throughout its operations. If no specific objectives or plans are set (which allows for documenting progress), the applicant must document long-term goals and a schedule for integrating climate and environment considerations.

    The applicants must be able to document competence and capacity in climate and environment. 

  5. The applicant has good procedures on risk assessments and appropriate controls, to prevent, detect and respond to misuse of funds and corruption in projects and programmes. Norad will emphasise concrete examples of handling corruption and misuse, with a zero-tolerance policy and concrete improvement measures having been implemented and followed up. 

    The applicant must be able to document a risk assessment process that covers the entire grant management cycle, including sub-grantees/implementing partners. The applicant’s ethical guidelines must be in line with Norad’s minimum standard (guide). The applicants must have a whistleblowing channel where internal and external parties can anonymously report suspected financial irregularities throughout the entire grant management cycle, including for sub-grantees/implementing partners. The applicant must be able to document the follow-up of whistleblowing reports and the practicing of a zero-tolerance policy. On request, the applicant must provide Norad with documentation of the follow-up. Appropriate handling and follow-up of whistleblowing reports will be a requirement for strategic partner certification. This includes, among other things, technical competence, integrated arm’s length approach while dealing with whistleblowing reports and the protection of whistleblowers.

    The applicants must be able to document competence and capacity in whistleblowing and anti-corruption throughout the entire grant management cycle, including for sub-grantees/implementing partners. 

  6. The applicant has holistic and documented corporate governance, including strong financial management and risk management procedures where risks are analysed, managed, and monitored. Norad will especially focus on the management of risks associated with human rights, women’s rights and gender equality, climate and environment, anti-corruption, and partner follow-up. The establishment of an internal audit function will be viewed favourably.   

    The applicant must be able to document a risk management process that covers the entire grant management cycle, including sub-grantees/implementing partners. The applicant must have a risk assessment and an action plan that sets out deadlines and apportions responsibility. The applicant must be able to demonstrate a link between identified risks and established key controls in their organisation. There must be a degree of monitoring activities for the internal control. The applicant must have a division of labor in relation to critical functions such as cost approval, standard data changes and bank payments. The applicant must have guidelines that ensure compliance with Norad’s requirements for procurement, as well as agreement templates for partners to ensure that Norad’s contractual requirements are reflected throughout the entire grant management cycle, including sub-grantees/implementing partners. The applicant should have a partner strategy and differentiated partner follow-up. The applicant must have a whistleblowing channel where internal and external parties can anonymously report sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment throughout the entire grant management cycle, including for sub-grantees/implementing partners. The applicant’s ethical guidelines must be in line with Norad’s minimum standard (guide). If SEAH is not included in the applicant’s ethical guidelines, there must be a separate guideline for this. These must be in line with Norad’s minimum standard.  

    The applicant must be able to document competence and capacity in risk and financial management throughout the entire grant management cycle, including for sub-grantees/implementing partners. In addition, competence and capacity to handle cross-cutting issues must be documented. 

  7. The applicant’s participation in and leadership of civil society consortia as well as experience cooperating with other development aid actors (including public agencies, research institutions, the UN, and the private sector) will be viewed favourably.  

  8. The applicant will be favourably considered if in possession of valid, internationally recognised certifications (e.g., the EU Humanitarian Partnership Certificate) and/or have achieved good results in partner assessments by other major international donors. 

    If the applicant shares the basis for internationally recognised certifications, this can be used as documentation to meet the above criteria. 
Published 13.10.2022
Last updated 13.10.2022