Operating Framework – SmileAL

Operating Framework

Program description

The smile.al program is a pioneering initiative for the promotion of social and developmental banking. For the first time in Albania, an online platform has been created that enables the gathering of resources from the “crowd” – from anyone interested, wherever they may be in the world. The resources gathered are then directed to specific projects undertaken by implementation bodies. The core philosophy of crowdfunding, that smile.al program is based,  aims to enhance awareness among the public and to motivate people to contribute, as much as they can, to the implementation of actions that are needed by Albanian society. The Smile.al program is governed by Credins Foundation

Guidelines to candidate action implementation bodies 

The various smile.al actions are being implemented by bodies with a solid track record in such activity, through the program’s website www.smile.al, by leveraging the potential of the crowdfunding financing model. The funds raising through the smile.al are donations from individuals or enterprises in Albania.

Each action is implemented by a specific body, e.g. agency, public or private (NGO, foundation, company etc.). The implementation bodies  submit their initial proposals for crowdfunding, which include all the key parameters, including but not limited to the overall budget for funding, the  beneficiaries of the action, the timeframe for implementation, and so on.

The contribution of the implementing bodies to the program is decisive, as their know-how, experience and scientific competence serve as guarantees for the successful outcome of each action and the effective allocation and management of the resources gathered.

Eligible action implementation bodies 

Eligible implementation bodies of smile.al actions are legal entities based in Albania or abroad that comply with the following general conditions:

  • They are non-profit legal entities.
  • They are of established legal status, in contrast with informal or ad hoc groups and configurations, and they have articles of association or other founding documents that set out their mission, objectives, aims and area of activity.
  • They possess the administrative, organizational, financial, scientific and operational competencies to see the proposed action through to completion. 
  • They are creditworthy pursuant to the criteria each time applicable for commencing a banking relationship with credit institutions, and have adequate resources to operate.
  • They comply with the applicable regulatory framework regarding AML/CFT
  • They are independent of political parties.
  • The following exclusion criteria also apply:
    • The agencies should not be under any court restrictions.
    • The partners, legal representatives, board members or managing persons of the bodies must not have been convicted of any offence related to their professional duties. In addition, there must not be any irrevocable court ruling against the agency and/or its legal representatives in respect of fraud participation in criminal organizations, corruption and money laundering.
    • The agencies should not have failed to meet their obligations in respect of contributions to social security funds or taxes.
Eligible thematic areas and the proposed actions

The applications regarding proposed actions should fall within the scope of the following thematic areas of the smile.al program:

1) Health and Solidarity, 

2) Promotion of Cultural Heritage, 

3) Environment, 

4) Innovative Entrepreneurship, 

5) Social Entrepreneurship, 

6) Education and Training,  

7) Sporting Activities.

  • Each proposed action shall be self-contained as regards its implementation, shall be described clearly and fully and shall fall exclusively within one of the aforementioned thematic areas. (Detailed description of the proposed action, purpose, geographical scope of activity, beneficiary group, place and proposed time frame of implementation, problem or need that the proposed action seeks to address, description of how it will be ensured the sustainability of the results, publicity, communication and promotion actions, planned actions to collect the required resources, the main indicators monitoring the achievement of the qualitative and quantitative objectives of the proposed action). 
  • Each implementing body can submit more than one proposed action related to one or more action areas of the smile.al program. However, only one of the proposed projects can be approved for each agency.
  • The implementing body submitting the application can work in collaboration with one or more bodies (the partner bodies) in implementing the proposed action.
  • Each implementing body can participate as a partner in the implementation of, at most, one proposed action submitted via the smile.al platform within the operating framework.
  • Partner bodies cannot participate in more than two proposed actions submitted via smile.al platform within the operating framework.
  • Priority is given to promoted actions whose implementation is planned to take place within Albania at a local, regional or national level.
Budget and implementation timeframe of the proposed action
  • The budget of each proposed action cannot exceed €50,000 or equivalent in Albanian Lek from the public. A detailed breakdown of the budget should be given, and its amount should reflect and ensure a sound balance between the cost of the proposed project and the desired outcome. This amount does not include amounts that have been secured under agreements with sponsors.
  • Once the proposed action is approved, its budget can be increased or reduced only under exceptional circumstances on the basis of specific documentation. Upon approval by the program’s Management Committee, internal amount re-allocations (not exceeding 10% of the total budget) between expenses categories are possible, on condition that they are justified and documented.
  • The implementation timeframe of the proposed action should not exceed twelve (12) months or, on certain substantiated and justifiable grounds, 18 months.
  • The length of time that an action can remain on the smile.al platform is four (4) months with the possibility of a 2-month extension, depending on the action. These limits can be changed by virtue of a relevant decision by the program’s Management Committee.
Eligible expenses

The proposed action should state clearly the envisaged expenses required to implement it. In particular, with regard to expenses:

  • They should be linked exclusively to the implementation of the proposed action. Staff salaries, travel costs, supplies, equipment, subcontracting, publicity, marketing, advertising, etc. can be included in the expenses. The expenditure on staff salaries shall not exceed 10% of the total budget of the proposed action.
  • They should meet effectively, efficiently and transparently the objectives of the proposed action.
  • They should be effected within the implementation period, as set out in the start and end dates for the action.
  • They should be included in the budget of the proposed project.
  • They should be in line with the applicable Albanian accounting standards and generally accepted accounting principles.
  • They should be in line with the applicable tax and insurance legislation.
  • The smile.al program shall withhold 5% of the financial target of each action or of the amount gathered if the financial target is not achieved solely for the purpose of promoting and disseminating the smile.al initiative, i.e. for the overall benefit of the implementation bodies and the furtherance of their actions.

The following expenses are not eligible:

  • Interest expenses, debt payment expenses and default interest
  • Charges for financial transactions and other purely financial expenses
  • Expenses related to purchase of property
  • Provisions for losses or contingent future liabilities
  • Debit foreign exchange differences
  • Doubtful claims
  • Recoverable VAT
  • Expenses covered by other sources
  • Fines, penalties and legal fees
  • Excessive or unjustified expenses
Action evaluation process

Applications must be duly submitted online, through smile.al platform and by the submission date and time stated by Management Committee. Applications sent by regular post shall not be accepted.

In the first phase, the Management Committee will check:

  • the timely submission of the application,
  • the fullness of the application as per the invitation and
  • any formal impediments for the implementation bodies and/or proposed actions as per the open call.

Applications that are submitted after the deadline, are not full, or present formal impediments shall not be taken into consideration.

In the second phase, the Management Committee, in collaboration with a group of experts coming from different scientific and business backgrounds, reviews the proposed actions and ranks them in descending order, on the basis of the overall evaluation criteria. The review criteria taken into consideration are described below.

Thereafter the Management Committee submits the evaluation scores to the Strategy Committee, which then selects the actions that will be included in the smile.al program.

The final selection of actions that have been accepted by the smile.al platform shall be made by the program’s Strategy Committee. According to the program’s Regulations, the shortlist of proposed actions is made by the Management Committee on the basis of the criteria set out in the table below.

Adequacy and experience of the implementing agency 30%Points 
Previous experience in the action area of the proposed action
Human resources who will implement the action (quantity and quality criteria, involvement of volunteers)
Does the Applicant have sufficient experience and capacities in the management of projects of comparable grant size. 

Funding and budget of the proposed action 20%Points 
Budget review (clarity, details, feasibility – need for expenses)
Correlation – proportionality of the expected results with the funding amount
Methodology for implementing the proposed action 30%Points 
How relevant is the proposal to the needs and constrains of the target region and those involved (target-groups and beneficiaries)?
Have their needs been clearly defined and does the proposal address them appropriately?
Is the project proposed feasible and clear?
Does the project have a clear and relevant visibility
Sustainability 20%Points 
Does the expected outcomes have an impact on target groups?
Does it ensures viability?
Collaborations with other bodies at a local, national or international level
Actions aiming at promoting, communicating and disseminating the proposed project 
Performance indicators for controlling the target achievement

Final Score


The Strategy Committee’s decision shall be final and cannot be appealed.

On completion of the evaluating process, the Management Committee shall inform, by email, each implementing agency of the result of the evaluation of the application it submitted.

Audit and monitoring
  • As stated in the smile.al Regulations, the Management Committee, with the assistance of an outside auditor, prepares and submits at the end of each year a report on each action to the Credins Foundation relevant bodies and the Grant Thornton governing Authority, as required by law.
  • Each implementation body  shall submit to smile.al final progress reports regarding the project’s implementation, as well as financial reports. The specific timeframe regarding the submission of the reports, and details regarding their content will be defined through consultation between the implementing agency and the smile.al Management Committee.
  • Each implementation body  should be ready, when requested by the competent smile.al  bodies, to accept on-site audits, submit any extra interim reports besides the final progress reports as above, and provide further information at any moment during implementation of the action.
  • An implementation body that cancels its action while posted on the smile.al platform before the proposed action has reached its crowdfunding target shall be excluded for two years from the smile.al platform.
Collaboration Agreement

The smile.al Management Committee and the implementing body  shall sign a Collaboration Agreement for each action approved for inclusion in the smile.al platform. Depending on the legal form of the implementing agency, legalization documents may be required, as the case may be.

The said Agreement’s terms shall include at least the following:

  • The description and budget of the action.
  • The duration and the implementation timeframe of the action.
  • The obligations that the implementing agency undertakes
  • The eligibility of, and supporting documents for, expenses
  • The start and end dates for effecting eligible expenses.
  • Possible amendments to the action.
  • The procedure for paying the amounts, and the prospects in the event that the necessary funds are not raised.
  • The policy for publicizing, communicating and promoting the action
  • Terms ensuring the necessary provision of access, without any delay, so as to enable effective monitoring, auditing and evaluation of the action.