Budget for the Integrated SBCC Program
Several budgeting and financial considerations are unique to integrated SBCC programs. Think through all of the cost implications of integrated SBCC programs, and be sure to budget for them appropriately from the beginning.
Bear the following in mind when preparing budgets, establishing financial systems and tracking expenditures:
Integrated programs typically require additional inputs (e.g., human resources, funding, processes and time) for effective management, coordination and implementation. As such, costs are often frontloaded more so than in vertical programs, requiring you to budget for higher start-up costs than normal. Because coordination is so critical in integrated programming, be sure to dedicate adequate resources for the continuous engagement of stakeholders at multiple levels. The cost efficiencies due to integration, versus the redundant effort required common for vertical programs, can potentially make up for these added costs of coordination at a later point.
The donor may require you to separate out costs by health area or activity. This can be particularly difficult for integrated programs, which, by definition, address more than one health or development topic at a time. Work with your donor to set realistic expectations on the degree to which costs can be accurately disaggregated and agree on how costs will be reported.
In order to accommodate donor requests for disaggregated cost data to the extent possible, programs might need to experiment with ways to track budgets for reporting purposes, such as expenditure tracking by topic area. Keeping a potentially complicated intervention schedule on track through timely reporting becomes even more crucial with integrated programs.
In most cases, the topics included in your program will have varying levels of funding. To further complicate matters, the levels of funding may vary from year to year. Funding for topics the program started with may be cut in later years, or new topics may be introduced as the program goes on. Regardless, donors and/or activity managers often want to see activities, results and indicators that match their funding commitments. Does an activity level proportional to the annual amount of funding for each topic make strategic sense for your program? Be prepared to justify and advocate for the most strategic allocation.
Determine if your program can successfully make the case for basket funding that allocates the budget according to strategic needs and requirements. For example, can a proportion of the funding be used for overall or combined costs, such as coordinating body meetings, formative research, the launch of an overarching umbrella campaign, integrated SBCC capacity building interventions or staff time?
Integration may be established prior to project start-up by the RFA/RFP, or may come about during the proposal or strategic design stages. Budgets that are tied to deliverables or timelines set before the decision to integrate might warrant renegotiation with the donor. Otherwise, funding, rather than formative research and logic, might dictate the phasing or priority of topics.
Funding timelines may differ between partners, donors, projects and/or the government (e.g., start dates, end dates and fiscal years). It is critical to take those specific funding timelines into consideration as you plan activities and the disbursement of funds. It may help to set up a tracking system to help manage these timelines and plan ahead.
Integrated SBCC programs have found it useful to budget in a way that allows for iterative strategy development and implementation. A certain degree of flexibility in budgeting can help accommodate changes over time, as implementers determine what type of integration works best.
There is often an expectation in integrated SBCC programs that the host government will allocate a proportion of the national budget to program activities by some pre-determined point in the future. This can be particularly difficult to manage in integrated programs that likely have multi-system financing. You may be working to obtain funding commitments from multiple sections within a single ministry (e.g. from the National AIDS Control Program, National Malaria Control Program, Reproductive and Child Health Section and the Health Promotion Unit within the MOH), or cross-sectorally (e.g. from the MOH, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture). Consider working with the Ministry of Finance, as well. This ministry is often overlooked in integrated SBCC programs, but may in fact need to be one of the ministries that is most engaged.
– Robert Karam
"In integrated SBCC programs, underfunded activities often get a higher return on their investment. Under the Tanzania Capacity and Communication Project (TCCP), for example, our [MCH] funding was very little compared to our PEPFAR (U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), PMI (U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative) and Population funding. MCH, however, was the ‘link’ that tied all of these areas together. A campaign grounded in healthy pregnancy, safe delivery and the first year of a child’s life would also help us address PMTCT, the prevention of malaria in pregnancy and post-partum family planning, together with early and complete ANC attendance, individual birth planning, delivery at a health facility and several other aspects of MCH. We ended up developing Wazazi Nipendeni (Love me, parents) – a huge, integrated national campaign that had a sizeable focus on MCH – with very few actual MCH dollars."
Chief of Party, TCCP
Think through all of the cost implications of integrated SBCC programs, and be sure to budget for them appropriately from the beginning.