The United Nations Foundation (UNF) Partner Due Diligence policy provides a framework for vetting potential partners across relevant risk dimensions. This policy enables UNF staff and leadership to make informed decisions about whether to engage with a prospective partner and the appropriate nature of engagement. This policy outlines the minimum due diligence requirements for the organization but does not supersede any additional procedures necessary to comply with other donor requirements, regulations, or agreements.
Partner, in this document, is defined as any individual, vendor, grantee, funder, sponsor, or public relationship with which UNF engages.
UNF is committed to working with partners who are aligned with the values, ethics, and conduct of the United Nations (UN). It is our chief responsibility to uphold the name and reputation of the UN, and our mutual respect for human rights, dignity and social justice, across our operations. For this reason, UNF’s approach to due diligence mirrors that of the UN Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) Common Approach to Due Diligence to the greatest extent practicable. Our alignment to the UN includes: introduction of exclusionary criteria; identification of partners’ high-risk industries; and the provision of a common, transparent platform for due diligence information sharing via UNF’s Salesforce system. In addition, UNF seeks relationships with partners who comply with national and international laws, are financially and regulatory compliant, and are well-aligned with the reputation of UNF and its affiliated brands.
The UNF due diligence process is intended to allow UNF to manage organizational risk while maintaining a reasonable level of effort from program teams in ensuring that potential risks are mitigated. UNF achieves this balance by vetting all potential partners through a two-tiered due diligence process – the first largely to screen for legal and regulatory infractions, and the second to assess the partnership along more reputational dimensions. Heightened review is given for potential partners with greater monetary support and/or degree of brand affiliation. The two-tier approach allows for flexible screening methods to align with team’s existing processes and/or donor-specific requirements. Additionally, this approach allows for ensuring potential partners align with UNF’s brand and values but provides flexibility for UNF’s initiatives to incorporate their unique brand and values as well.
*This policy does not apply to any bilateral or multilateral partners, including governmental entities or UN agencies
**Thresholds are based on annualized values.
1. When UNF and its affiliated initiatives believe there is at least a fifty percent likelihood that partner funding will progress above funder/sponsor thresholds;
2. When a new grant or contract is initiated at the vendor and grantee thresholds; or
3. When a potential brand partner is identified.
As noted above, this policy represents UNF’s minimum required due diligence expectations. Teams or those responsible for managing UNF’s risks may elect to begin screening earlier in the prospecting process or at lower dollar thresholds at their discretion.
Lower risk organizational relationships undergo an initial screen (called a “Tier 1 review”). The Tier 1 review builds upon a set of UNF-determined exclusionary criteria that have been selected to align with the UN Global Compact and the UNSDG Common Approach, and excludes partners who:
• Are or have been subject to a UN sanction, have committed serious violations of U.S. or UN sanctions
• Derive or have derived revenue from the production of controversial weapons, including antipersonnel landmines, cluster bombs, or nuclear bombs
• Derive or have derived revenue from the production and/or manufacture of tobacco
However, the exclusionary criteria outlined above are not the only criteria evaluated during the Tier 1 screening. The Refinitiv World-Check tool evaluates partners against approximately 700 global databases to screen for both the above exclusionary criteria as well as human rights violations, illegal activity, and regulatory infractions. World-Check is unable to screen for negative press or other reputational factors; these will be evaluated through the Tier 2 review.
For grantees, Tier 1 review also includes an Organizational Self-Assessment completed by the grantee. The Organizational Self-Assessment verifies that the grantee is an established entity with proper legal and financial controls. This allows UNF to ensure that potential grantees will be good stewards of UNFs’ and/or its donors’ funds and have the basic organizational requirements necessary to execute projects.
The Business Services and Contracts team is responsible for reviewing the package of Tier 1 results. In the case that unfavorable, questionable or concerning findings surface for a potential partner, UNF will take care to understand the nature of the violations and ensure that the findings are not erroneous. The Contracts team will determine if additional review is necessary for a decision to made. These cases will be reviewed by the Strategic Planning & Implementation (SP&I) team to resolve or recommend an appropriate path ahead: either by requiring further screening (i.e. Tier 2) or escalating to the UNF Chief Operating Officer (COO) for a final partnership decision. The COO will consult with the UNF Leadership team and relevant program management as needed.
Partners will be monitored on an ongoing basis via World-Check. The Contracts team will review any new results which may prompt further review of any prior partnership decisions.
In addition to Tier 1 review, higher-level partnerships undergo a subsequent due diligence evaluation (called a “Tier 2 review”) to more comprehensively assess the partnership along broader strategic and reputational considerations. The Tier 2 review has several objectives, including to provide more context about the terms of the partnership, to expand upon any infractions that were cited in Tier 1, and to scan for other potential controversies that would not have been cited in Tier 1 databases, but still matter to UNF, its values, and those of its associated initiatives. The Tier 2 process also allows UNF to assess the organizational leadership of potential partners for any reputational concerns.
Initiative/program staff will be trained on how to perform Tier 2 screening, which will rely on methods such as desk research, searches through news and media outlets, referrals from established partners, or any combination of these methods. Teams will also identify if the prospective partner organization works in any high-risk industries according to those industries listed in the UNSDG’s Common Approach. Potential risks found through this process are summarized by teams into a Reputational Memo, along with basic information regarding the organization, its leadership and the proposed partnership.
SP&I is responsible for reviewing Tier 2 Reputational Memos and will then make a partnership recommendation to the COO, who, in consultation with other UNF leaders as necessary and appropriate, will make the final decision about the future of the partnership. UNF may choose to move forward with partners on a provisional or limited basis and, in some cases, may require additional requirements be incorporated into contracts or grant agreements to limit any potential risk to the organization.
Partnership decisions will expire after three years from date of resolution, unless prompted earlier by any notable change in circumstance.