We are in the process of updating our grant portfolio tool. Some of this information may be out of date but a new version of the tool will be available in the coming months.

Our grant-making process

We identify opportunities by talking to and meeting individuals and organisations working within our priority areas. We do not normally accept unsolicited proposals.


Transformational impact – We’re looking for ways to catalyse systemic change – through new policies, new large-scale programmes, innovative delivery, sustained behaviour change, or dynamic business models. We seek ambitious and large scale change with a clear pathway to impact which can be monitored and measured. Putting forward a compelling investment proposition with a clear theory of change to achieve large scale impact is crucially important.

Evidence-based approach – We are a data driven organisation. We look for the best available evidence and approach. Where evidence is weak (as is often the case when trying to understand high impact delivery approaches) we seek to highlight what more needs to be generated through the investment. Our focus on the use of evidence and data to drive decision making also means that robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks will be developed as part of any investment.

Cost-effectiveness – Understanding the ‘social return on investment’ for each of our programmes is critical to ensure that we continue to achieve maximum impact for children. We will look at the cost-effectiveness of each investment proposition during development to make sure that we are deploying all resources (ours and partners) in the most effective way.

Scale and sustainability – We believe that to achieve truly transformational impact for children we need to deliver long-term solutions at scale. All investment proposals should try to outline the scale and potential impact, as well as making clear any considerations for sustainability (financial, behavioural, political etc.) from the outset.

Measurement and evaluation – In order to ensure programmes are on track to deliver maximum potential impact, all investments will include robust monitoring systems, including key performance indicators, to generate data that can be used for decision-making, including course correction. We will often commission independent third party evaluations to measure the outcomes and impact of our grants as well as operational feasibility and cost-effectiveness, among other things.

When we invite a proposal which fits within our strategic priorities for funding, we will work closely with the potential partner to develop two documents:

  • A concept note
  • An investment memo

The first stage prepares a brief note for consideration by CIFF’s Executive Team. If successful, we will move onto the second stage, writing an investment memo for consideration by the Board of Trustees.


The concept note is a two-page document presenting a high-level overview of the proposed programme of work. The note also includes evidence of feasibility and highlights key risks for further due diligence. We will develop concept notes in close collaboration with prospective grantees in preparation for review by the Executive Team, which will make a decision as to whether to advance the proposal to the next stage.


Once the concept note has been approved, the relevant CIFF team will enter into an intensive due diligence phase with the partner organisation. The due diligence process provides opportunities to test the rationale, context, evidence base, detailed plans and budget of the proposal. We will work closely with the partner organisation to understand and test the programme design and theory of change, supporting development and drafting of the investment memo.

There will be collaboration and inputs from the Evidence, Measurement and Evaluation team (Data and Evidence) to review the evidence base, cost-effectiveness and develop a robust measurement framework to assess outcomes and impact along the theory of change. The Finance and Operations team will also conduct initial financial and legal due diligence, as well as risk assessment of the partner organisation.

The average time taken to move from concept note to approval of an investment memo is 15-20 weeks.

We realise that all of the above may seem a little overwhelming at first. But should a concept note be approved, we work alongside all potential partners to co-develop the investment memo and ensure it is as robust and evidence-based as possible, giving it the greatest chance of approval.