DFID consultation: “UK Aid Connect” (building consortia)

2 Feb 2017

DFID logo.png

The SMP was pleased to have the opportunity to feed into a meeting on the 26th January in which DFID were seeking input to the design of their UK Aid Connect programme, which looks to fund work through consortia. 

DFID are still seeking input to inform the final stages of development for this new funding programme, including the particular themes for future funding. 

If you would like to feed into these discussions, please email david(at)scotland-malawipartnership.org your input no later than 7th February.



UK Aid Connect is one of four funding programmes within DFID’s November 2016 Civil Society Partnership Review

The SMP broadly welcomes the Civil Society Partnership Review and the consultative approach DFID continues to take in its development.

Details are yet to be finalised but UK Aid Connect aims to support innovation and collaboration between CSOs, think tanks and the public and private sectors to solve key challenges in development.

On UK Aid Connect, DFID’ s Civil Society Partnership Review states:

“UK Aid Connect: Too often the global aid system operates in narrow silos. This new approach to funding will create incentives for innovation and collaboration between CSOs, think tanks and the public and private sectors to solve key challenges in development.”


“UK Aid Connect… is a new programme which will support coalitions of CSOs, think tanks, public, private, and third sector organisations to help find solutions to current complex situations whilst tackling tomorrow’s challenges. UK Aid Connect is a direct product of responses from the CSPR, where it became clear that there was a need for civil society to work better together, and with DFID, to create innovative and flexible solutions to the most important and difficult challenges.  We will invite proposals for a first phase of UK Aid Connect in March, with the first tranche of funding available later in 2017”

The Civil Society Partnership Review identified that whilst traditional development NGOs continue to play an important role in development, the civil society sector is changing. Many other organisations are bringing new skills and opportunities and driving transformative change.

There are complex development challenges that can only be addressed by consortia of diverse organisations.

No one development actor has ‘the answer’. Connect will support diverse multi-institutional consortia to find innovative solutions to complex, development challenges in DFID’s priority thematic areas.

Fund parameters

  • Duration: 2017/8 to 2020/21
  • Programmes supported:  Perhaps up to 15 over programme duration.
  • Consortia size and budget: will be determined by the theme and outcomes.
  • Funding will be tied to focused outcomes rather than outputs and will not be unrestricted

Type of consortia:

  • Diverse, multi-institutional
  • Include traditional development organisations.
  • And Think Tanks, foundations, philanthropic organisations & private sector.
  • Composition of the will be determined by the theme.

Consortia characteristics:

  • Influential
  • Effective communicators;
  • Meaningful southern  role;
  •  Mixture of practice and theoretical

DFID’s priority thematic areas may include:

  • Sexual and reproductive health and rights (including family planning),
  • Disability,
  • Civil society effectiveness & space,
  • LGBT rights
  • Leave no one behind
  • Gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls,

Indicative stages and timelines

  • Dialogue on overall fund design (December & January)
  • Dialogue on the thematic areas (February)
  • Selection of consortia (April/May)
  • Co-creation (July to September)

Key questions in which DFID is seeking input:

  • Identifying priority UK Aid Connect themes?
  • Consortia composition?
  • Focus of the work such as the balance between breadth and depth and learning and practice?
  • Funding for each consortia?
  • Will be determined by the nature of the theme and agreed outcomes.


  • What type of consortia are the most effective?
  • Is the rigorous evidence of impact?
  • Why are consortia effective?
  • What are the factors that make consortia effective?


  • What are the UK development priorities that the UK Aid Connect approach should address?
  • Within these areas, what are the key development challenges?
  • For the work of a consortium, what should the balance be between breadth and depth?
  • What should be the balance between learning and practice?


  • Which organisations need to be in consortia?
  • How to ensure southern engagement?
  • What should the balance be between southern and northern organisations?
  • How inclusive of focused should the consortia be?
  • How can co-creation and adaptive programming be managed effectively?