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Organisation-wide aspects of VFM

The primary purpose of RAISE Gambia is to enhance the teaching and learning of science in Gambian schools by promoting the use of practical experiments in the classroom. We promote active learning methodologies – this is modelled through teaching development workshops both in and outside of the lab.  We enable access to the laboratory for both teachers and students. Our work  supports SDG4 (quality education), SDG8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 10 thus helping to relieve poverty (SDG1) and promoting global prosperity helping the world’s most vulnerable. Our workshops are specifically designed to support SDG5 (gender equality).

We set out these aims in our Strategic Plan, a dynamic document, that is prepared by our trustees, reviewed annually and approved or reaffirmed by the trustees. This strategic review process ensures that our strategy remains relevant to our purpose so maximising efficiency, effectiveness and equity. The delivery of our strategy is through the construction and implementation of our annual operational plan. This is  based on:

the source of funding for these activities;

who is responsible for the delivery of these activities;

evaluating why these activities are the ones that are optimal given our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

 the assignment of responsibilities and tasks, so maximising efficient delivery.

The implementation process for our operational plan is through regular face to face meetings and documented minutes.   There is an MoU with our principal implementation partner (Sifoe Senior Secondary School.) Each employee, contractor, volunteer and implementation partner agrees to the tasks assigned to him/her.  By aligning responsibilities and duties with accountabilities, we are operating at optimal efficiency.

Our accounting operations have been set up with the primary objective of ensuring that financial controls are suitable for an organisation of our size. We produce an annual financial statement and our accounts will be audited once our income is in excess of £25,000. We constantly monitor our costs and implement adjustments that save money where identified.  These controls demonstrate our efficiency and economy.

Our human resource strategy and plan is currently under development as there are no employees.  The HR strategy and plans will reflect our overall strategy and annual work plan. The alignment of overall and HR strategies and contract flexibility will ensure that we can provide optimal efficiency in this cost category.

We benchmark the cost of our contracted staff against the local market for labour, using techniques that are appropriate for our size. Our policy is to ensure that we can match the required HR capabilities with cost, balancing economy against efficiency and effectiveness.

Our management information systems  is based on written reports utilizing Microsoft Office products. The timeliness of well-informed decision making ensures  the efficiency of programme delivery as key decisions are made when they need to be, rather than delayed with potential implications on costs and results.

There is no charge made by RAISE GAMBIA  for charitable fund raising, UK overheads programme delivery, as these services are provided free of charge by the trustees.

We procure goods and services using a common standard across our charity’s activities.  All capital items are purchased following obtaining a minimum of three quotes.   Where possible consumables are purchased locally in The Gambia to support the community economy, unless items are unavailable there or of unsuitable quality. All items of cost are budgeted in advance. The procurement process is well documented and auditable. We only procure goods and services that provide an acceptable standard of utility. The net result of our procurement policy is to provide clear evidence that we provide optimal economy for our funders, both restricted and unrestricted.

We have a very clear idea from our strategy who our beneficiaries are. All of our work is directly targeted at these clients and we have the systems controls and review procedures to ensure that this targeting is upheld in practice. We look closely at our targeting mechanisms to ensure that the cost of targeting is kept as low as possible. We look to  reduce the unit cost per beneficiary, by choosing the delivery mode that provides evidence of lowest cost. In these instances, we always collect disaggregated data to ensure we are able to report accurately internally on the benefits provided to our target clients. By a combination of these techniques we are able to demonstrate equity and economy.

We are a learning organisation and we have invested in a suitably structured process of review, feedback and reengineering and refinement of our work, processes and procedures based on the findings of the review process. Our process of learning enables us to grow to become more efficient and effective.

VFM aspects relating to the UK Aid Direct Project

In general, we apply the same processes, procedures, controls and effort to our UK Aid Direct programme as we do to all of our work. This ensures that the benefits of the VFM aspects listed above apply in full to the DFID-funded programme. Where there are processes, procedures controls and efforts that are required of our grant contract that are over and above our existing standards, we will review those standards to see whether we can apply these across all of our work. The decision to do so will be based on whether the changes would realise further value for money for RAISE GAMBIA . If not, then the differences will be documented and suitable controls and processes put in place to ensure compliance. Whilst this might result in higher costs in the short to medium term, it is likely that this will provide better evidence to DFID on the matter, so improving confidence on our ability to adapt.

Our application for a grant reflects a programme that is strongly aligned to both our strategy and the strategy of UK Aid Direct, so improving both our effectiveness whilst contributing to DFID’s effectiveness.

Our grant programme is suitably described at concept and full application stage (which is one and the same for SCCF) and is responsive to the detailed requirements of the UK Aid Direct call for proposals. In doing so we can ensure that the numbers of enquiries or questions relating to ownership, completeness and clarity are kept to a minimum, so contributing to the efficiency of UK Aid Direct.

We will apply for a grant for a programme that demonstrates our ambition but at the same time is credibly capable of being delivered, supervised and controlled without significant downside risk to our future. The programme is therefore suitably sized for us. By ensuring this, we increase the chances of successful delivery and greater effectiveness.

Our grant programme is underpinned by a strong and fully articulated theory of change. The theory examines in detail the causal chains that give us confidence that we can attribute, to the greatest extent possible, the outcomes and impact of our work. The detail includes the assumptions that underpin each element of the causal chains, and the evidence that supports causality. As part of our learning agenda, we will ensure that assumptions are tested, new evidence taken account of, and the theory adapted to reflect the changes. These activities underpin the effectiveness of the programme and ultimately UK Aid Direct.

The work plan for the grant programme is provided which details the major tasks of the programme, the persons responsible for the delivery of those tasks, the expected level of effort, cost and timing of the tasks, preconditions to carry out the tasks, if any. The work plan will include activity dated milestones. The detail is at a level where management can ensure that the programme is fully equipped both financially and operationally at all times, to maximise the potential of on-time delivery. The delivery of the programmes activities on a timely basis and within the budget, strengthen both UK Aid Direct’s and our efficiency and effectiveness.

The budget for our programme has been constructed with full knowledge of the costs of goods and services that are required for successful delivery. We have ensured that we have through our experiences on the delivery of our core activities, calculated estimated unit costs with a degree of accuracy. Our skills and experience will contribute towards the delivery of the programme in a cost-efficient fashion and will limit unexpected cost variances that would undermine this.

We have paid special attention to those cost items which represent the larger part of the project costs. We have carried out research on the costs of procuring (including air fares and staffing costs in The Gambia) that are reflected in the project budget. By carrying out this research, we can confidently estimate most of the grant cost base. This allows us to demonstrate economy.

We have calculated our grant request in a way that maximises the use of UK Aid Direct grant. We can clearly demonstrate that we are not able to carry out this programme without the grant. These demonstrations clearly provide the proof of the additionality of the grant.

We have the committed financial resources to cover our contribution to the programme. These resources are from existing unrestricted funds and binding commitments received from other funders. We can show that we have exhausted other possible sources of funding. These commitments will allow the programme to advance without delay, improving the efficiency of UK AID Direct.

We have experience of working with the programme’s named implementation partners that provides comfort in their ability to deliver the goods and services in a timely manner in the context of The Gambia at a unit cost which is comparable with other possible good and service providers in that country. The combination of our due diligence, contracting, and supervision will contribute to the delivery of an efficient programme.

We confirm that the UK Aid programme will not divert resources from other important activities that our charity or others are planning to carry out. We can also confirm that the beneficiaries under the programme are not currently served by our NGO or by others active in providing these goods or service. These statements give comfort on the additionality of the programme to our organisation as well as to UK Aid Direct.

We have demonstrable experience and advantage over others in delivering the programme in The Gambia despite the clear difficulties that we will face. This experience covers not only the technical aspects of the delivery of our goods and services, but also in  many years of demonstrating adaptation to the culture and environment in a way that allows for smooth progress of project activities and improved efficiency for UK Aid Direct.

We have a risk register that conforms to the guidelines set by UK Aid Direct. Risks will be divided into those which are external and hence outside of our immediate control, including the many risks associated in the delivery of our work in The Gambia, material cost fluctuations of programme goods and services, and exchange rate variations; and internal risks such as recruitment / retention of a project manager / officer and inability of our implementation partner to continue. For each risk we will state how we intend to mitigate it, the relative importance of the risk in terms of its impact on the programme and its likelihood of occurrence. We will also independently review all aspects of these risks annually, report changes to UK AID Direct, discuss with them the ramifications of the changes and agree suitable adjustments to activities or other inputs, that respond to the changes in risk. By ensuring a dynamic approach to risk management, the efficiency of both UK Aid Direct and ourselves is improved, and timely changes to adverse risks will significantly increase the effectiveness of the programme.

Our programme work plan is flexible, responsive to changes and opportunities in increase outcome and impact. Where we spot opportunities, we will discuss them with UK Aid Direct management to agree the cost benefit ratio and agree changes to the work plan, budget or other impacted programme aspect. This flexibility offers opportunities to increase the effectiveness of the programme.

For our programme, we will recommend a set of output, outcome and impact indicators that are SMARTTD (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, trackable and disaggregated) and agree these with UK Aid Direct. We will put into place measurement capacity to ensure timely collection of data under each indicator. Data collected will contribute to base line and progress reports. Data used will be available, accessible, credible, owned and capable of disaggregation into male/female, disability and possible other population group categories. We will investigate and explain positive and negative variances and take suitable actions to ensure the programme remains on track. The combination of these activities will ensure that the project’s effectiveness can be robustly measured, contributing to effectiveness.

We will make all data available to suitably qualified experts that are mandated to carry out progress, review or impact studies. We will ensure that the methodologies of data collection are made available. The combination of all of our pledges on data will boost DFID’s economy of evidence gathering and processing.

We will draw up lessons from our work and take all opportunities available to us to share our lessons with relevant government ministries, departments, stakeholders and other donors in the Gambia. The lessons learned will be impartial and backed by solid evidence. We will ensure there are adequate resources to enable these activities to take place. Sharing the lessons with these stakeholders will magnify the effectiveness of the programme.