Ideally, you must begin the preparation even before the opportunity is released by USAID. To have a good shot at getting shortlisted, the proposal must be of very high quality and stands out from the competition. This can only be ensured by spending time and effort in comprehensively researching, understanding the complete process, onboarding the right staff/ consultants and so on.
Many of the organizations vying for USAID grants and partnership opportunities start working at least 8-12 months in advance in order to put the relevant teams together by finding and recruiting the personnel, gather all the needed documentation for the application, find the right partners (if needed) and build local partnerships, hire grant proposal writer consultants (individual or agency- if needed) and so on.
It would help to keep a regular watch on USAID Business Forecast to understand which opportunities are upcoming in thematic areas, countries, regions or locations. You must also network with the key stakeholders and existing partners in your country or region to gather information around USAID’s goals and strategy for the country in a particular thematic area.
You should also go through the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) of USAID in your country. This document is a 3-5-year plan that each USAID country mission develops with the U.S. Department of State, and it contains the outlined objectives of the US Government and the strategic framework within the national development plan of that particular country.
USAID’s funding priorities primarily come from this CDCS document and therefore this can be certainly helpful for organizations in predicting the U.S. government funding in upcoming funding cycles. If you have found an opportunity that you would like to apply, you must also network and find information about the previous partners and qualifying proposals in your region and domain