How to Apply for a USAID Grant
The USAID (United States Agency for International Development) grant is a federal grant program for foreign countries to assist them in providing humanitarian assistance or economic development which enhances American political or economic policies abroad. Grant awards are competitive unless circumstances arise where an unsolicited proposal demonstrates a compelling and urgent need for USAID funds. Proposals should convey sustainable approaches to problem-solving in the areas of humanitarian services or economic development. Grant awards must serve emerging democratic governments or developing countries. US-based nonprofit entities, private voluntary organizations, local, state or regional governments, or foreign-based nonprofit entities may apply for USAID grant opportunities.
Review available grant announcements. These can be found at three websites: grants.gov, usaid.gov or the USAID bureau website that is specific to your area or interest. If you are a private voluntary organization, you must register with USAID before applying for a grant. If your organization intends to apply for a grant online, you must register your organization at grants.gov.
When your organization finds an available grant announcement to apply for, follow all of the instructions in the announcement's Request For Application (RFA). The RFA will list the amount of the grant awards available, due dates, format instructions, required certification and compliance forms, and specific USAID contact information for the RFA you are applying for. Submit your completed proposal online at the grants.gov by the due date. If you cannot submit your proposal online due to technical issues, contact the grants.gov helpdesk. You may have to submit your proposal by mail.
If your organization is planning to submit an unsolicited grant proposal, submit a concept paper. The concept paper should roughly outline your organization's project and include all contact information for your organization, projections of the cost of your project including a time frame for estimated completion, and any previous or similar projects you have done in the past that demonstrate experience in delivering economic or humanitarian assistance. Submit two copies of your completed concept paper by mail to your local USAID mission or the appropriate Washington Bureau office. Refer your concept paper packet to the attention of the senior program officer.
Once the concept paper is approved by USAID, submit a full proposal. The proposal should cover project goals and objectives and include timelines for completion. A full plan for evaluating your project and a detailed budget submitted on government forms (SF-424 and SF-424a) should be included in your proposal. Required certifications and compliance agreements must be attached. The certification and compliance forms are available at your local USAID office.
Unlike formal grant proposals that are submitted as the result of a grant announcement, unsolicited proposal grant awards are subject to negotiation. Once the submitted USAID proposal is approved, a USAID Agreement Officer will negotiate a grant award for your project based on the information you submitted. If the USAID Agreement Officer determines that further financial information is required, your organization will be asked to provide that information and possibly submit to a pre-award audit before getting a grant from USAID.
Tips and Warnings
- If you need technical assistance to submit a grant proposal online, contact the grants.gov help page at grants.gov/help/help.jsp
- Follow all directions printed in the RFA for USAID grants.
- Examples of concept papers and budgets are available from USAID program officers.
- Remember that grants are legally binding contracts.
- When submitting an unsolicited proposal, do not skip submission of a concept paper first. Your proposal will be rejected.
- Unsolicited proposals are rarely funded.
- Don't panic if the grants.gov website will not accept your proposal. Contact them immediately to make them aware of the problem.
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