International Small Grants Programme: review

An independent review of the Scottish Government's International Small Grants Programme conducted from January to June 2020.

Chapter 1: Introduction

The Scottish Government's Small Grants Programme was established in 2013 to help grow the international development sector in Scotland to better support some of the world's most vulnerable communities. The Programme provides funding for smaller Scottish based organisations to deliver work which enhances Scotland's contribution to the fight against poverty, with a focus on countries which are the Scottish Government's international development priorities.

The Small Grants Programme was initially developed as a pilot programme. The first phase of the pilot operated from 2014 to 2016. The Scottish Government made a commitment to extend the pilot in 2016 and a second phase of the pilot was delivered from 2017-2019. The Programme has been managed by the Corra Foundation over both phases.

The Scottish Government made a commitment to review the Small Grants Programme, and in December 2019 commissioned Arrivo Consulting Ltd with Philippa Bonella to carry out the review.

Scope and purpose of the review

The scope of the review was established in the Terms of Reference (ToR) developed by the Scottish Government. The purpose of the review, as set out in the ToR, is to determine:

  • Are the Programme aims and objective fit for purpose?
  • Does the Programme deliver value for money?
  • Are the correct structures and incentives in place to deliver on the strategic objectives of the Programme?

The objectives of the review were identified as:

  • to critique/evaluate whether the original purpose of the Programme is broadly still relevant and fit for purpose;
  • to critique the potential for tension in the Programme: the desire on the one hand to support small organisations in Scotland and build their capacity whilst on the other to support some of the world's most vulnerable communities in our partner countries, and offer viable options for alternative models to remove that tension;
  • to offer viable recommendations for improving the delivery and structure of the Programme;
  • to consider whether or not the Programme should be continued.


The methodology was discussed and agreed with the Scottish Government at an inception meeting in December and then confirmed in the inception plan submitted in January 2020. The three key elements of the methodology were:

1) Desk research

Review of Programme information:

  • Review original paper/reports which established the Programme
  • Rapid review of policy documents/reports over life of Programme to track changes in purpose/objectives, measures of success etc.
  • Rapid review of Programme documentation (objectives, criteria, processes etc)
  • Review of annual 'lessons learned' reports from Corra Foundation.
  • Review of Programme management information

2) Literature Review

  • Brief literature review to explore learning from other funding programmes.

3) Interview Programme

Consultation with the key intermediaries which support Scotland's International Development activities:

  • Scotland's International Development Alliance (SIDA),
  • Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP),
  • Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP) and
  • Scottish Fair Trade Forum.

Consultation with a sample of applicants to the Small Grants Programme.

  • We carried out 15 telephone or Skype interviews with organisations which had applied to the Small Grants Programme.
  • The sample included organisations that had applied but been unsuccessful in getting funding as well as organisations which had been successful.

Interviews with:

  • the Programme Management staff at the Corra Foundation, and
  • members of the Scottish Governments International Development Team who are responsible for the Small Grants Programme.

Interviews with a sample of other funders and funding experts to explore the funding landscape for small charities and learning from other Small Grants Programmes.

It is important to note that the scope of the review did not include primary research on the outcomes and impact of projects funded by the Small Grants Programme.



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