Matthew Johnson is the USAID Industry Liaison and Communications Director for USAID's Office of Acquisition and Assistance.
With offices in more than 80 countries—and programs in more than 100—USAID sometimes can seem intimidating to new, small, and local partners. Knowing where to start to partner with such a large agency can be a challenge. If you are trying to get your foot in the door, it is important to find ways to make yourself known to USAID.
USAID’s Industry Liaison team seeks to be a front door to USAID. My colleagues and I help organizations understand how to navigate the Agency’s partnership process and connect to USAID staff around the world. You can read about the types of activities and events we do throughout the year here.
I have highlighted below seven ways (plus one bonus if your organization is a U.S. small business) that you can introduce yourself to USAID.
1. Register your organization in the WorkwithUSAID.org Partner Directory.
The WorkwithUSAID.org Partner Directory is a global listing of development organizations that enables potential partners to identify themselves to USAID. USAID staff use the directory to do market research on possible partners, as well as to invite organizations to events, Industry Days, and more.
Additionally, the Partner Directory can help you connect with other development organizations working in your country or sector. Each organization’s profile includes links to its website and social media pages, if provided. Even better, new features being developed for the Partner Directory soon will allow partners to contact each other directly through the site to collaborate on potential opportunities.
2. Respond to Requests for Information, Draft Scopes of Work, and Sources Sought Notices.
As a part of almost all funding opportunities, USAID does research to identify capable partners. One of the ways that we do this is by issuing Requests for Information (RFIs), draft Scopes of Work (draft SOWs), or Sources Sought Notices (SSNs), which are posted on SAM.gov and Grants.gov.
These offer you an opportunity to provide input into USAID's planned activities and share your organization's technical capabilities.
If you are new to partnering with USAID, responding to an RFI, a draft SOW, or an SSN is one of the most important things you can do. It helps us get to know who you are and can give you an opportunity to highlight the great work you are doing!
3. Respond to a funding opportunity.
While responding to a funding opportunity requires an investment of time and resources, it also can be a great opportunity to introduce yourself to USAID (and learn more about how we operate).
If your organization's proposal or application is not accepted by USAID, you can request a debriefing meeting with the Agency’s team to get information about why your organization was not selected. But if your organization’s proposal or application does get accepted, congratulations—you have become one of the more than 3,500 organizations working with USAID!
4. Participate in USAID events.
Each week, around the world, USAID hosts events on new policies, programs, and funding opportunities. These events can be a great opportunity to gather information and also to connect with USAID staff.
Keep an eye out for Industry Days, which are events organized by USAID to share information and connect with organizations around specific funding/partnership opportunities, often at the Mission level. Industry Day details are advertised within a specific funding opportunity’s information on both SAM.gov and Grants.gov and also noted on the Agency’s Business Forecast. If you are interested in a particular funding opportunity and there is an Industry Day happening, you should be there!
My team also hosts a number of regular events, including bimonthly Work with USAID webinars, quarterly Business Forecast calls, and more. If you sign up for our email list or follow us on one of our social media channels listed below, you will be able to stay up to date on our events.
Finally, we are working to add an events calendar to WorkwithUSAID.org to create a one-stop shop for you to find out about all of USAID’s events, so visit the site and watch for that exciting feature later this year.
5. Reach out to the points of contact for USAID’s Business Forecast activities.
Did you know that USAID has a Business Forecast that lists all of our upcoming funding opportunities? The Forecast is updated daily and includes more than 200 upcoming projects around the world. Included on the Forecast is helpful information such as a description of each planned program, the funding amount, a point of contact for each activity, and much more.
You can reach out to the point of contact to share information about your organization and your interest in the funding opportunity. Email BusinessForecast@USAID.gov to get connected to the point of contact and introduce your organization's capabilities.
6. Schedule a discussion with USAID’s Industry Liaison.
As I mentioned, my team serves as a front door to USAID. Each year we meet with hundreds of organizations one-on-one to offer advice, input, and connections to the Agency. If you are interested in taking that next step to connect with USAID, reach out to my team at IndustryLiaison@usaid.gov to schedule a discussion.
7. Connect with the Industry Liaison team on social media.
One of the ways that we try to connect with organizations and share information is through our social media channels. We have an active Work with USAID LinkedIn group, we host regular events on Twitter, and we post daily information on Facebook. You can connect with me and my team, as well as other USAID staff, on these channels.
Bonus for U.S. small businesses!
If you are a U.S. small business, you can access additional support through USAID’s great Small Business Office. Contact them (email@example.com) for help reviewing your capabilities statement and directing you to funding opportunities that are set aside for U.S. small businesses.
We look forward to hearing from you and working together to find innovative development solutions. Reach out to us today!