Skip to main content

How to apply for and manage an IDRC research grant

How to apply for an IDRC research grant

What financial support does IDRC offer to international development researchers?

IDRC offers grants, funding, and awards to researchers and institutions to find solutions for global development challenges.

There are two basic types of grants: competitive grants and institutional grants.

How do I know if my proposal is eligible?

How do I apply for a research grant?

The information requested in the kit is the minimum required by the Centre, therefore every response is mandatory (unless indicated as optional). Failure to provide all of the mandatory information and required documents and/or providing unsigned documentation will result in processing delays and/or your application may be rejected.

Applicants should consult the funding opportunity or follow guidance from IDRC on whether the application must include a Data Management Plan (DMP). If so, complete the Stage 1 or Stage 2 DMP.

Before you apply

✔ Read the full Application for an IDRC Research Grant form to learn more about the information you will need to provide.

✔ Read and complete DMP template as directed by the funding opportunity or IDRC staff.

✔ Review the General Terms and Conditions of the Grant Agreement to ensure that your organization understands and has the capacity to respect the terms. These terms represent the standard working practices of IDRC and reflect the underlying financial and governance framework in place.

✔ Verify the legal status of your organization. IDRC can only provide funding to legal entities. Canadian organizations must be a legal entity with a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) number.

✔ Ensure that your concept/idea is aligned with IDRC’s priorities and programming.

The IDRC grant application kit: a quick tour

General features

The kit provides hyperlinks to documents that are required or that provide essential guidance in preparing the application. 

  • IDRC will not reimburse any costs incurred for the preparation and submission of an application or for any cost incurred before the Centre’s approval of the grant.
  • All information in your application (including supporting materials) is subject to release upon request under Canada’s Access to Information Act and/or the Privacy Act.
  • IDRC accepts project proposals written in English, French, or Spanish.
    • A certified translation must accompany any original document that is not available in English, French, or Spanish.  
    • If the original proposal is in Spanish, the proponent must prepare an executive summary in one of IDRC’s official languages (English or French).
  • Documentation should clearly indicate the name of the institution.


Notification of approval

Timelines for funding decisions vary. They are based on the date of receipt of the final full proposal and final proposal budget.

Before the final signature

Special considerations: country procedures

In some cases, IDRC has scientific and technical cooperation agreements with the governments of the countries where we support projects. Where such agreements exist, IDRC may require additional or alternative approval processes to be followed in order to comply with such agreements. Otherwise, grantees must follow the prevailing approval procedure as required by the government authority. This is often administered by a coordinating or nodal agency of the government and varies by jurisdiction.

An IDRC grant administration representative will advise the selected applicant if any country procedures need to be followed. A grant agreement will only be issued if country clearance(s) is/are obtained beforehand. In cases where the recipient will manage sub-grantees, the country requirements that apply to sub-grantees are also documented in the grant agreement. It becomes the responsibility of the IDRC grantee to ensure that sub-grantees meet these requirements.

How to manage your IDRC research grant

What am I responsible for now that the grant agreement is signed?

IDRC has approved a project grant for your institution. Once the grant agreement is signed (indicating that you accept the terms and conditions), the funds are deemed legally committed and can be expensed.

As an IDRC grantee, you are expected to:

  • manage the technical aspects of the activities; and
  • exercise adequate financial controls.

Project administration is an integral part of the research process. Accurate and timely financial and administrative information helps to monitor the progress of ongoing activities and ensures that project activities have the necessary resources to proceed on time and within budget. It also allows IDRC staff to see how the research, administrative, and financial aspects of your project are evolving. This information is critical to IDRC’s own accountability when reporting to Canadian taxpayers and funding agencies.

A clear understanding of administrative procedures is the best way to ensure the timely disbursement of funds. Everyone involved in administering IDRC funds at your institution must read this document in conjunction with the grant agreement that you received from IDRC. Collaboration between researchers and their administrative counterparts is essential to ensure that substantive and financial aspects of projects are administered effectively.

Your base document: the grant agreement

Your accountability: Reporting on project performance

Project outputs and technical and financial reports must be submitted on time — they are a condition of receiving your advances. Missing or insufficient documentation will lead to delays in project payments. IDRC’s grant agreement specifies the type of outputs and the frequency of the technical and financial reports that must be submitted.

As noted below, all project outputs and technical and financial reports must be submitted within the schedule established in Part 3: Schedule of project milestones of the grant agreement. All project outputs, including technical and financial reports, must be submitted electronically through IDRC Connect.

How IDRC grants are disbursed

IDRC grants are disbursed on the basis of a schedule of milestones outlined in the grant agreement (Part 3: Schedule of project milestones).

The schedule of payments reflects the IDRC grantee’s expected cash flow as indicated in the proposal budget or, if submitted prior to approval, the project work plan. The initial payment is contingent on the signing of the grant agreement by all parties. Interim payments are released based on the progress of project activities and after the Centre receives and approves the required project deliverables.

Payments during the lifecycle of the project are determined by the forecast submitted by the IDRC grantee. The forecast is submitted in the working currency of the institution and the payment is converted to Canadian dollars at the exchange rate in effect at that time. Therefore, it is important to record and report all expenditures and project payments in the working currency of the project. When the project is closed, the final project payment is adjusted to account for exchange variations. Any shortfall must be absorbed as part of the institution’s contribution to the project.

Importance of reports

Technical and financial reports are a condition for further advances of funds and/or the final project payment. Missing or insufficient documentation will lead to delays in project payments. IDRC analyzes technical and financial reports to determine their technical and financial accuracy and completeness.

IDRC’s analysis of financial reports focuses on three aspects:

  • grant receipts and exchange rates;
  • variances in actual expenditures and forecast expenditures, and explanations of these variances; and
  • cash flow to determine the amount of the next payment.

The technical or administrative contact person at IDRC may seek clarification on the details above. Once all of the missing information is provided, IDRC’s analysis will be completed and the next payment will be processed (if the cash need is demonstrated and supported).

Grant monitoring

Monitoring is a mechanism by which IDRC ensures that grantees use the funds they receive for their intended purpose, and thereby produce the desired technical (and ultimately development) outcomes. 

Monitoring also helps to manage the risks identified before a project begins and that arise during the course of research. The learning generated through monitoring contributes to meeting project objectives and achieving results. It also provides essential information to IDRC about the evolution of scientific and policy issues and the performance of institutions in carrying out the research.

What to expect when IDRC monitors your project

Project monitoring typically occurs at set times during the project’s lifecycle and on any other occasion when significant opportunities or challenges arise. Project monitoring at IDRC can take many forms, including:

  • project/site visits by IDRC or consultants;
  • attendance at workshops, conferences, or other events;
  • reviewing technical and financial reports;
  • exchanging emails;
  • telephone or Skype calls;
  • conducting institutional visits;
  • preparing reports to external funders;
  • reading communications products, such as articles or scholarly works, or viewing and listening to audiovisual works;
  • examining technologies developed in the project;
  • creating log frames;
  • conducting surveys and circulating questionnaires.


How do I deal with unforeseen changes?

While all conditions specified in your grant agreement must be respected, IDRC recognizes that situations outside the grantee’s control may occur. Please contact IDRC immediately if you encounter significant difficulties during the execution of your project. Dependent on the situation, an amendment to your grant agreement may be considered.

Project changes must be documented and requested in writing as early as possible. Project extension requests should be made before the project research completion date. It is important to note that any deviation from the project’s original work plan and approved budget must be pre-authorized by the IDRC technical contact person. Project changes are documented in an amended grant agreement signed by all parties.

Project completion and closure

Need help?

Please contact the responsible officer or the administrative contact person identified in your grant agreement for additional questions about procedures and conditions.

Appendix 1 – Checklist for Financial Reporting

Your report will only be accepted if you have included all of the necessary information listed below. Incomplete reports will be returned and payment processing will be delayed.

⛔ This checklist must be attached as the covering page to your financial report. ⛔

As you work through the steps, check ✔ for each applicable item

All guides and forms

Locate the guides and forms you need as an IDRC research grant applicant, successful grantee, and fellowships and awards applicant.