USAID Strategies for Fundraising

author: 
comms
18 june 2019

Dóchas members welcomed Mike Shanley, from Konektid International, for a seminar on USAID funding strategies on 4 June.

Mike is CEO of Konektid, a US-based consulting firm that advises on entering and growing within the USAID funding market and supports a range of clients on building USAID funding strategies.

During the seminar, it was noted that there is a lot of interest in USAID partnerships across the NGO sector in Ireland, from both fundraising and donor compliance perspectives.

Some of the key takeaways from the session include:

  1. Value-add is most important. When looking to partner with USAID, it is most important to focus on your value-add. While your organisation type is relevant, the more important factor is what your organisation will add to a project. When approaching a USAID partner or consortium, always be ready to answer the question: “Why do they need to partner with you on this specific USAID procurement?” While there is a preference for USAID to work with local organisations or US small businesses, the more important factor is what relevant expertise the organisation brings to USAID. If an Irish NGO is best-placed to provide technical support or knowledge, then they may be considered for funding.

  2. Past performance. Konektid tells clients to focus on what they have done, not what they can do. The difference is whether your organisation has measurable past performance doing a proposed activity. Evaluation criteria for most USAID proposals will include a section on past performance. This means that in order to receive high points from USAID on a proposal, your consortium will have to have proven past performance doing similar work.

  3. Subcontracting or joining a prime contractor consortium may be the best entry approach. While the subcontractor procurement process may take longer than foundations or other donors, successful tenders will typically result in larger, multi-year agreements. There is also a shift towards larger funding amounts and contracts being awarded to consortiums in recent years, which can mean the subcontracts are also larger.

  4. Preparation is key. The partnering process and proposal writing should start before funding and procurement opportunities are announced, during what is called the ‘capture phase’ in the USAID market. NGOs that successfully win bids will typically have been preparing for months, and sometimes more than a year, in advance and are likely to have strategies and partnering agreements in place before a final procurement is released.

  5. Too small? Many Irish NGOs may believe their organisation is too small to secure USAID funding, but this is not necessarily the case. Being able to best deliver a service or expertise can place NGOs in a good position to be awarded subcontracts or funding. Proving a good fit is more important than organisational size.

  6. Be confident. As part of a procurement process, it is crucial for NGOs to show what impact and success they have had and where they excel. USAID (and many other awarding bodies) will respond to relevant and targeted information on why a contractor or subcontractor is the best candidate to receive funding.

What can you do to find out more about USAID funding strategies?

You can contact Konektid’s team directly with your USAID partnering questions at connect@konektid.com.

The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dóchas.