Pooled fundingQuality features of pooled funds
To galvanize collective action towards the Sustainable Development Goals pooled funds must be used in an efficient and effective manner. As the United Nations center of expertise in pooled financing, the MPTF Office has made investments in developing and diffusing necessary management features across its entire portfolio. These 12 features, informed by Funding Compact Commitment 14, are an integral part of each inter-agency pooled fund.
Common Management Features across pooled funds
*Common management features: well-articulated strategy, including innovation features where relevant, clear theories of change, solid Results-Based Management systems, well-functioning governance bodies supported by effective secretariats, quality assurance on issues of United Nations norms and values; risk management systems and strategies; operational effectiveness/reporting/visibility/transparency standards; and planning and funding for joint and system wide evaluations that meet UNEG norms and standards.
1. Innovation features
Innovation is a core tenet of MPTF Office processes and functions. Our design experts have pioneered results and performance-based payment tools for humanitarian and development spaces that rely on blended capital and mixed modalities of finance. Feeder-fund modalities help stakeholders align global and country pooled funds and expanded implementation modalities have proven useful for non-United Nations organizations. In most cases, the MPTF Office aligns multiple sources and types of funds to support countries across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.
2. Clear theory of change
Theories of change are at the heart of our design support and requirement for all new funds, which is why fund advisors created a design manual full of examples and recommendations on how to institute a clear theory of change. Secretariats can request online support for development and ways of translating certain theory of change components into uncomplicated and engaging visualizations.
3. Results-based management system
A new results-based management (RBM) system is now available for all funds administered by the MPTF Office. This system allows for real-time monitoring of programmatic and financial performance indicators according to financial data reported in line with United Nations and International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) data standards. Mainstreamed data standards on the SDGs make it easier to link all funded projects or initiatives to the Global Goals, as well as measure the operational performance of each fund (and overall MPTF Office portfolio) against key performance indicators.
4. Well-functioning governance bodies
Effective governance arrangements in place are imperative for upholding quality fund design and achieving results that can be replicated elsewhere. Governance structures include secretariats, executive boards, steering committees, or fund management units and are consist of stakeholders responsible for programmatic oversight and related management functions. Separating the roles in this way allows for a clear delineation of functions and varying levels of accountability.
5. Supported by effective secretariat
Secretariats receive support from the MPTF Office through direct service provision and the development of new client-facing digital tools, templates, and platforms. Raising the bar in its role as pooled funding knowledge hub, MPTF Office analysts also guide fund stakeholders on the use of the Partners Gateway to gather lessons learned and share good practices across countries and programmes.
6. United Nations norms and values
Quality assurance on UN norms and values are enshrined in our standard legal agreements, acting as programmatic safeguards for a range of critical issues. Specific text related to sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment was incorporated into legal agreements in 2019, while the new grant management system (piloted in 2020) tracked contributions for gender equality through mandatory gender equality markers at the project level.
7. Risk management
Risk management systems and strategies feature prominently in all pooled funds, and the fund management platform includes a universal marker for managing risk. These tools contribute to monitoring and due diligence processes and mitigating risks related to the multi-stakeholder nature of inter-agency pooled funds, particularly in high-risk environments where many pooled funds operate.
8. Operational effectiveness
Recent investments in operational effectiveness have led to greater efficiency gains we expect will yield system-wide results by 2022, if not sooner. Measures implemented include the updated MPTF Office Design Manual (Designing Funds for Performance), a revised MPTF Office Fund Administration Manual, and the launch of our revamped flagship platform, Gateway.
Improved reporting standards benefits everyone: MPTF Office staff, our clients, contributors, and fund beneficiaries. In 2020, we delivered 100% of certified financial reports (sources and uses of funds) on time while an increasing number of United Nations partners submitted quarterly reports, which is above and beyond the required annual statement. Although narrative reporting remains the responsibility of participating organizations, the Partners Gateway has now a module feature for secretariats to report at the project-level, but aggregate results the fund.
The MPTF Office 360° approach to visibility raises the profile of fund partners, contributors, participating organizations alongside the issues of focus and progress made. But while the new Partners Gateway is designed to provide greater visibility for all stakeholders, partners are encouraged to use other digital platforms and social media to acknowledge efforts being made to accelerate the SDGs and achieve sustainable humanitarian-development outcomes at the country, regional, and global levels. Governance bodies should adopt visibility guidelines unique to their fund at the country level to better support context relevant advocacy and public outreach campaigns.
Data availability and access to information is a core tenet of MPTF Office management and administration of blended financing. The second generation of Gateway features additional tools, dashboards, and data visualizations that allow for better access, analysis, and visual representation of financial and narrative content across the entire humanitarian-development nexus of pooled funds we administer.
12. Joint and system wide evaluations
Evaluations promote good practices that ensure sufficient resources are invested in evaluation measures. Members of our office collaborates closely with those from the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) to track and share pooled funds evaluations in the UNEG reports database. Another step up, we share joint work streams with the United Nations Development Coordination Office (UNDCO) and flagship funds to align system-wide evaluations, create a channel for guidelines, and to share best practices on how to evaluate pooled funding, inclusive of budget allocations.