USAID encourages a large number of applications and competition to ensure high-quality proposals and solutions. To this end, USAID issues solicitations and asks the organizations to respond to them. After this, the organizations whose response best meets the evaluation criteria outlined in the particular solicitation, get selected. However, this is not the end of the process. The various types of solicitations by USAID to assess your organizational capacities, select potential partners, and get a detailed understanding of the planned work are (Source: USAID):
- Request for Information (RFI): A call for organizations to share technical or other requested information before issuing a formal solicitation.
- Pre-Solicitation Notice: A notification that the Agency will be issuing a solicitation.
- Sources Sought Notice: A notice to determine the number of organizations interested in a possible funding opportunity, their level of experience and qualifications, and the suitability of activity for a particular type of small business set-aside.
- Draft Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO): A draft of the NOFO, released before the formal solicitation is announced; its purpose is to receive feedback and input.
- Draft Scope of Work: A draft of the planned scope of work that enables organizations to provide feedback and to get a better understanding of a planned activity.
The actual funding opportunity solicitations involve the following steps and aspects. Once funding is available and USAID is interested in offering funding to organizations in various domains, the USAID issues a ‘solicitation’. There are different types of solicitations:
- Request for Proposal (RFP): An official call for proposals with complete details about the projects and areas to be funded, evaluation criteria and all necessary information related to the RFP. All RFPs are posted on SAM.gov.
- Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO): An official solicitation for assistance awards, also called the ‘grants and cooperative agreements’. All NOFOs are posted on gov.
- Annual Program Statement (APS): A “call to action” released by USAID on gov, usually once a year, that outlines the need for a specific kind of program and encourages the submission of a wide range of concept papers.
- Broad Agency Announcement (BAA): This entails a competitive and collaborative research and development process used to seek innovative solutions to development challenges from public, private, for-profit, and nonprofit partners. BAAs can result in contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements and are posted on both SAM.gov and Grants.gov.
Each of the above have separate application processes and guidelines. So it is important to read the solicitation thoroughly, conduct deep research and also get in touch with the previous USAID partners in the region and domain to understand the best practices, building on past successes and have samples to help you in your application process.