cerrado-flower-header.jpg

Close-up of purple flower.
Caption: 
Flower in the Cerrado Biodiversity Hotspot.
Credit: 
© Aryanne Amaral

If you are a CEPF grantee, the most important step in preparing to manage the financial requirements related to your project is to review your grant agreement. (If you are an applicant, you can review the template version of the agreement.) 

In Attachment 1 of your agreement, you will find the project activities and budget approved by CEPF. Our funds can only be used for the approved activities and project scope.

Below you will find additional information and resources to help you navigate CEPF's requirements. Preparing now for how you will organize your supporting documentation will help you in the long run!

We know this may feel like a lot, but don't panic. We're here to help! Your grants manager is always available to answer your questions. 

Mandatory Online Training Course

For large-grant recipients only. If you are a small-grant recipient, ask your regional implementation team about requirements.

CEPF has developed a short online orientation training course to help grantees understand the financial requirements of their grant. Anyone from your organization who is involved with the financial management of the grant and/or the implementation of project activities funded by CEPF should complete the course. The self-guided program should take no longer than an hour and allows you to pause and complete later, if needed.

New grantees will receive an email invitation to register for the training. If you have not received the email or are a new team member for an already active CEPF grant, please contact your grants manager.

Note that the course is only available in English. If you or someone on your team prefers to complete the training in French, Malagasy, Portuguese or Spanish, please contact your grants manager. 

At least one person from your project team must complete this training and pass the quiz at the end, otherwise, CEPF will not disburse additional payments to your organization.

Report Templates

Templates for common reports and tracking of typical expenses are found below. If your organization already has established procedures and documentation requirements in place, you may continue to use those, provided that they include the required information.

Detailed Transactions Report

A detailed transactions report—also known as a general ledger transactions report—is an Excel spreadsheet that tracks the expenses incurred to your CEPF project for the specific quarter. It supports the quarterly financial reports that large grantees submit through ConservationGrants by listing the details of each expense that was incurred during the quarter.

The detailed transactions report is due at the same time as the quarterly financial report, which is 30 days after the end of the quarter: 30 April, 31 July, 31 October and 31 January.

If your organization has an automated accounting system, you will generate the report through that system. Tracking the information manually is fine, too.

Whether you are using an automated or manual accounting system, the report should be submitted in an Excel spreadsheet. Each transaction should include the following:

  • Invoice date
  • Payment date
  • CEPF main expense categories (found in your online quarterly financial report) 
  • Payee
  • Description of the expense
  • Exchange rate used (if you are not managing your project in US dollars)

If helpful, you may choose to use one of the CEPF templates below.

Timesheet

Per your CEPF grant agreement, you are required to keep track of the actual time that staff in your organization spend working on the CEPF grant. Estimates of time, or charges of staff time based on budget, will not be approved. If there are staff members working on the CEPF project part time, their timesheets should include all of the other projects' donors they are working for, too.

Below are four templates, which you are welcome to use or modify. You may also use your own form, provided it contains the same information.

Vehicle Logbook

Vehicle logbooks are used to track fuel usage and maintenance of a vehicle that is used for the CEPF grant. Vehicle logbooks need to include:

  • Trip date
  • Start and end locations
  • Start and end odometer reading
  • Distance traveled
  • Reason for the trip
  • Traveler's signature
  • Driver's name

Below are three templates, which you are welcome to use or modify. You may also use your own form, provided it contains the same information.

Sub-Contracts and Sub-Grants (Flow-Down Terms)

If you have sub-contracts (i.e., consultancies) and/or sub-grants in your budget, you will need to enter into a legally binding agreement with that person or organization. Sub-contractors and sub-grantees are required to comply with the same terms and conditions defined in the CEPF grant agreement. 

We request that these agreements include the CEPF flow-down terms and code of ethics. You can find these clauses in your grant agreement. They include the sentence "Grantee hereby expressly binds itself to include this provision in all sub-contracts and sub-awards issued under this Agreement." The necessary clauses are also available below.

Procurement Policy Guidance

Procurement Flowchart

Before purchasing any goods or services with CEPF funds, carefully review your grant agreement. Pay close attention to Section 7 ("Use of Funds and Resources"), Section 11 ("Procurement of Goods and Services") and Attachment 2 (the procurement policy).

Once you become familiar with your grant agreement's procurement policy, review your proposal budget and identify with your team all services or equipment expenses equal to or greater than US$5,000. These will require approval so plan for enough time to follow the proper procurement procedures.

If the procurement process is not done correctly, CEPF may not approve your expenses. Therefore, please reach out to your grants manager to help guide you. You can also refer to the below diagrams.

If you are a small-grant recipient, note that additional requirements may apply for your hotspot. Please contact your regional implementation team for further guidance.

Sole-Source Justification Template

Purchases of goods and services that equal or exceed US$5,000 must go through a bidding process (explained above). However, in some exceptional cases, these purchases can be sole sourced. In the rare case where a competitive process is not possible, your expense must be approved in writing by CEPF prior to purchasing. You will need to submit a justification to CEPF for the sole-source selection using the below template. 

Please remember that failure to obtain written approval prior to purchasing a good or service on the basis of sole-source selection will result in a declaration of disallowance.

If you are a small-grant recipient, note that additional requirements may apply for your hotspot. Please contact your regional implementation team for further guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are a small-grant recipient, please consider the below information as general guidance, but request confirmation from your regional implementation team as some processes differ from hotspot to hotspot.

Procurement

Do we need to go with the cheapest of the three bids, or can we provide justification based on other factors?
CEPF expects you to choose the best offer in terms of quality and price; it doesn’t necessarily need to be the cheapest. We trust your judgment. Please keep the justification of your decision on file.

Is it sufficient to request three price quotes, or do I need to obtain three price quotes?
You need to obtain at least three price quotes. We suggest that you request at least five to ensure you obtain the required minimum of three relevant quotes.

I would like to sign more than one consultancy agreement under the same CEPF grant with the same consultant. Is that allowed? 
Yes, however, the assignment, scope of work and period of performance must not overlap.

As a follow-up to the question above, if I sign more than one contract with the same consultant under one CEPF grant and each contract is less than US$5,000but the total combined amount to the consultant is equal to or greater than US$5,000what do I need to do?
In this situation, you will need to obtain at least three quotes for the services required before you enter into a legally binding agreement with the selected consultant. 

Reporting

Will I receive a response from CEPF that my report has been submitted (in addition to the ConservationGrants automated response)?
You will only receive an automatic confirmation. Your grants manager and/or grant director will follow up with you if additional information or revisions are needed.

Can I go back to the reports submitted and fix them if the reporting period has passed?
No. Please always fix a past report by including the correction or clarification in the current report. Once a report has been approved, it is locked for editing.

Is there any special format for reporting (financial and performance)?
Yes, large-grant reporting is done through ConservationGrants. Once your grant is active, you will be able to access your reporting schedule through the same login information that you used to develop your project proposal.

Financial Report

How do I request a payment?
For your initial payment, CEPF will release the amount defined in your grant agreement based off your approved initial cash flow in the section called “payment” upon reception of your countersigned grant agreement. Subsequent payments will be made in accordance with the “payment” section of the grant agreement using the projected expenditures box in your quarterly financial report.

How is my payment calculated?
In each one of your quarterly financial reports, there is a “projected expenditures” box to input the amount you estimate you will spend in the five months following the quarter you are reporting on. With this information, the system will calculate your payment based on what you communicated to us that you need as well as the amount you still have in your bank account. CEPF retains the right to reduce this amount prior to releasing payment.

Does CEPF need to see the originals of all receipts?
Always keep the originals on file, but you don’t need to send them to CEPF with your reports unless it’s required by your grant agreement or your grants manager. If receipts are requested or required, copies are fine. Originals should be made available to CEPF during site visits or audits.

How should I manage exchange rates on my CEPF grant’s expenditures?
We suggest you use the same exchange rate you received your last payment on. You can also follow your organization's policy regarding treatment of exchange rates, provided the method you use remains consistent throughout the term of your grant and that you exchange funds at the best available rate authorized by applicable laws and regulations.

Can I transfer funds between budget lines (e.g., furniture to equipment) and within budget lines (e.g., flight to accommodation)?
You are able to transfer funds from a direct-cost line item up to 15 percent of the total amount of your grant. Beyond that, including revision to the management support cost-line item, you need to request approval from your grant director, and CEPF will need to process an amendment.

What happens to funds that are remaining in my budget from one year to another?
Unspent funds from the previous year automatically carry forward into the current year. If you weren’t able to accomplish an activity during one period, you won’t lose those funds and will be able to spend the money during the next period. Make sure to communicate any delays on your project plan to your grant director.

If I was charged bank fees, where should I record them?
Record bank fees in the “Bank and Insurance Fees” budget line.

When I spend less than planned for certain activities, am I allowed to spend those funds on other activities, or design new activities that are in line with my project's objectives?

You are able to transfer funds from direct-cost line items up to 15 percent of the total amount of your grant. If the funds transferred represent more than 15 percent, you need to request approval from your grant director.

If approved, an amendment will be processed. Please notify your grant director if you would like to use funds for new activities to ensure it does not require an amendment to the project log frame.

Is it possible to use grant funds for an exceptional expense that is related to the project but which was not planned as part of the proposal and work plan?
All grant funds must be used for the activities and budget approved in your grant agreement. If you would like to use CEPF funds for activities not originally planned, you will need CEPF approval prior to beginning these new activities. CEPF will advise if an amendment to your grant agreement is required.

Audit

Is my audit scheduled at an appropriate date?
If you are required to submit an institutional audit under your grant, it is due to CEPF within 120 days after the end of your organization's fiscal year. If that due date presents difficulties for you, please contact your grants manager to discuss.

Who chooses the auditor?
If a project audit is required, the grantee will select an independent audit firm, which CEPF will then approve. Each year, the auditor will evaluate expenses incurred and activities carried out as part of the grant.

Does CEPF have a preferred format for audit?
For the institutional audit, CEPF prefers to receive the document in PDF format. For the project audit, please review and follow the "scope of work" attached to your grant agreement.

Does the audit need to be certified?
Yes, the audit needs to be certified, which means that it should be done by a fully accredited and independent auditing firm.

Should the audit be carrying out only on the project's accountability or on the whole organization?
It depends on your grant agreement, which should specify “project audit” or “organization audit.” A project audit will only test transactions related to the CEPF grant, while the organization audit will test transactions on the whole organization’s activities.

Should the co-fundings be audited, too, knowing that those funds do not necessarily transit via our project's account?
For an institutional audit, they are automatically subject to testing. Project audits should not include co-funding.

Contacts

If you have questions about any of the above, please contact your grants manager.

Caroline Borek for:
- Wallacea
- Mediterranean Basin
- Multi-hotspot

Deborah Miller for:
- Cerrado
- East Melanesian Islands
- Eastern Afromontane

Eric Ramarijaona for:
- Guinean Forests of West Africa
- Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands

Florencia Renedo for:
- Indo-Burma
- Tropical Andes

This page was created to help CEPF grantees navigate the financial requirements of their grant. If you have feedback regarding the usefulness and clarity of the above information, please send it to cepf@cepf.net. Thank you!