Social transfers have reached the policy agenda of low-income countries in Africa, where affordability is a key concern and aid dependence is high. In terms of magnitude, aid could make a substantial difference in relaxing the affordability constraint. This article addresses issues that arise as external financing is contemplated. Cash on delivery (COD) aid is discussed as an alternative aid contract when the political ownership is strong. The potential for external financing where political ownership is weak is also discussed, and the limitations of aid under such circumstances are recognised.