The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) works with partners around the world to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people progress beyond assistance. In fiscal year 2020, USAID obligated over $15.1 billion in foreign assistance funds through grants and cooperative agreements and $6.1 billion through contracts of which $918 million went to U.S. small businesses. We had a total of 3,047 implementing partners and worked in over 100 countries.
Preparing to partner with USAID
As USAID looks to deepen development impacts, it is important to identify capable organizations and engage them as partners in addressing local development challenges. Local organizations offer unique perspectives and skills and will remain in their countries long after USAID assistance ends, promoting sustainable development. The WorkwithUSAID.org platform is a free, USAID-funded resource hub that empowers partners with the knowledge and networks to navigate how to work with USAID.
WorkwithUSAID.org has a number of important features for current and prospective partners to utilize. For new and prospective partners, there is a “Start Here” checklist, which offers step-by-step guidance to organizations on how to partner with USAID. The checklist is downloadable and currently offered in English, Arabic, Burmese, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. A Partner Directory allows organizations to create a profile to highlight their work and seek out potential sub partnership opportunities. New and prospective partners can take a Pre-Engagement Assessment to self-evaluate their organizational capacity and readiness to compete for USAID funding. A Library of curated resources allows organizations to better understand USG and USAID partnership requirements at their own pace. Partners can visit the News and Insights Blog to learn more about successful partnership pathways, tips on how to work with the Agency, and updates on upcoming relevant events. The platform also features an Events calendar informing organizations of partner relevant USAID and international development events. Finally, there is a robust Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of the most commonly asked questions from organizations interested in working with the Agency.
Why this service was designated
Many new and local partners have reported that their biggest challenge to partnership with the Agency was that they did not know where to start. We selected this service because it is a one stop shop for partners to learn the basics of working with USAID, ultimately improving access and inviting new ideas, skills, and expertise to improve how USAID’s programs of more than $30 billion annually are implemented globally.
In FY 2022, USAID partnered with approximately 3,727 organizations. USAID wants to continue to expand and diversify this partner base. WorkwithUSAID.org will continue to help new and prospective local and underrepresented partners understand how to navigate complex USG processes and requirements, and prepare them to partner through tools like the Pre-Engagement Assessment. This platform will also help USAID identify potential organizations to partner with and help build their capacity to partner. In FY 2022, approximately 32 percent of new partners registered in the WorkwithUSAID.org Partner Directory completed the Pre-Engagement Assessment, exceeding USAID’s 25 percent goal for the year. The Agency has established a 40 percent goal for this performance indicator for FY 2023.
Competing for USAID awards
Applying for USAID awards is time and resource intensive for all organizations, but especially for small, new, and local prospective partners. Smaller organizations often have a disadvantage in terms of their ability to obtain the resources necessary to develop applications and navigate terms, provisions and conditions found in Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs), compared to larger U.S.-based and international recipients, which have more resources and experience around how to partner with USAID, including teams of staff fluent in USG procurement and financial regulations.
USAID’s Office of Acquisition and Assistance is working to help prospective local organizations navigate the USAID assistance process from start to finish, including requirements after receipt of an award. The Agency is in the process of developing systems at Missions overseas to be able to translate final applications from local languages into English. The USAID Industry Liaison External Communications and Engagement Strategy outlines a number of ongoing and new outreach activities to reach target audiences to help achieve the team’s objectives.
Why this service was designated
Local organizations across the more than 100 countries in which USAID works provide USAID with the context, expertise, and experience to drive sustainable development. However, they often do not meet the requirements such as internal accounting expertise, legal counsel, or financial systems to navigate USG regulations and USAID’s process to apply for a competitive award. Partnering with USAID has many long-term benefits for local organizations: it can open up access to future financial resources from USAID and other donors, improve an organization’s reputation as an established development actor, and help the organization develop its technical and management capacities. Through USAID partnerships, local actors are better positioned to serve their communities and achieve lasting development results long after their relationship with USAID ends.
In FY 2021, local organizations directly received 6.2 percent of USAID’s total obligations, even as awareness of the sustainable benefits of partnering with local organizations is surging. USAID has established a goal to increase the percentage of obligations to local organizations to 25 percent by FY 2025. Adapting the processes through which local partners apply for funding opportunities and subsequently win USAID awards will lead to more sustainable development results.