Unsolicited Proposals & Grant Applications

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You never know where the next great idea will come from. That’s why USAID welcomes unsolicited contract proposals and assistance applications for consideration. We do review every submission, but can only approve only a small number, so please read this guidance carefully.


  • An unsolicited proposal refers to contracts. It is a written proposal for a new or innovative idea that is submitted on the initiative of the offeror for the purpose of obtaining a contract with the Government, and that is not in response to a request for proposals or any other Government-initiated solicitation or program.
  • An unsolicited application refers to grants or cooperative agreements. It is a written request for a grant that represents an appropriate use of Agency funds to support or stimulate a public purpose.

Unsolicited Proposals

The USAID policy for Unsolicited Proposals for contracts can be found in ADS Chapter 302, USAID Direct Contracting, section 302.3.4.2. Consult Guidelines for Submitting Unsolicited Contract Proposals for further information.

Basic Eligibility Criteria for Unsolicited Proposals

While all proposals will be received and reviewed for funding, anyone who applies must keep in mind that resources are limited. Potential offerors should be aware that USAID will be able to approve only a small number. To be legally eligible for consideration, unsolicited proposals should be:

  • Innovative and unique
  • Independently originated and developed by the offeror
  • Prepared without U.S. Government supervision, endorsement, direction, or direct Government involvement
  • Include sufficient detail to permit a determination that USAID support could be worthwhile and the proposed work could benefit USAID's research and development or other responsibilities
  • Not be an advance proposal for a known USAID requirement that can or will be acquired by competitive methods.

Required Contents for Unsolicited Proposals

Basic Information

  • Offeror’s name, address, and type of organization (profit, nonprofit, educational, small business, etc.)
  • Names and telephone numbers of technical and business personnel to be contacted for evaluation or negotiation purposes
  • Identification of proprietary data to be used for evaluation purposes only
  • Names of other Federal, State, or Local agencies or parties receiving the proposal or funding the proposed effort
  • Date of submission
  • Signature of a person authorized to represent and contractually obligate the offeror

Technical Information

  • Concise title and abstract (approximately 200 words) of the proposed effort
  • A reasonably complete discussion stating the objectives of the effort or activity, the method of approach and extent of the effort to be employed, the nature and extent of the anticipated results, and the manner in which the work will help to support the accomplishment of USAID’s mission
  • Names and biographical information of the offeror’s key personnel who would be involved, including alternates
  • Type of support needed from USAID (facilities, equipment, materials, or personnel resources)

Supporting Information

  • Proposed price or total estimated cost for the effort presented in sufficient detail for meaningful evaluation
  • Period of time for which the proposal is valid (suggested six month minimum)
  • Type of contact preferred
  • Proposed duration of effort
  • Brief description of the organization, previous experience in the field, and facilities to be used
  • Other statements, if applicable about organizational conflicts of interest, security clearances, and environmental impacts

Limited Use of Data

An offeror may restrict the data included in its unsolicited proposal by marking the proposal with the legend set forth in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Section 15.609. You can access the FAR at https://www.acquisition.gov/far/.

Unsolicited Grants and Cooperative Agreements

Guidance on unsolicited grants and cooperative agreements is provided in ADS Chapter 303, Grants and Cooperative Agreements to Non-Governmental Organizations, section 303.3.5.5, “Unsolicited Concept Papers and Applications.”

Unsolicited applications are those submitted to USAID for an award by an applicant solely on his or her initiative, without prior formal or informal solicitation by USAID.

USAID may make an award based on an unsolicited application, without the benefit of competition, when the application:

  • Clearly demonstrates a unique, innovative, or proprietary program;
  • Represents an appropriate use of USAID funds to support or stimulate a public purpose; and
  • Fits within an existing Development Objective.

When the terms of an unsolicited application fit within the scope of a published and open Annual Program Statement (APS), the application may be considered under the APS. The unsolicited application is then considered to have been competed under the APS and no justification for an exception to competition is required.

This exception may not be used for non-competitive extensions to existing awards. A recipient‘s request to extend an ongoing relationship is not an unsolicited application. One of the other exceptions in this section ADS 303.3.6.6 must apply for the recipient’s request to be granted.

To use this exception to competition, the Activity Manager must first certify that USAID did not solicit the application and that it was submitted by the applicant solely on his or her own initiative.

See Guide to USAID’s Assistance Application Process and to Submitting Unsolicited Assistance Applications for further information.

Useful Background Information

The Development Experience Clearinghouse, the Agency’s online resource for USAID-funded technical and program documentation, provides useful information for those who wish to ensure their idea is relevant.

Who Will Review My Idea? 

Both unsolicited proposals and unsolicited applications should be sent to UnsolicitedProposals@usaid.gov.

  • Unsolicited proposals are reviewed by the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs.
  • Unsolicited applications are routed from the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs to the appropriate parties for consideration. 

To make sure your idea is given due consideration, please make sure that all requested information is included, and that you've followed the guidelines provided.

Learn more about "the USAID Grant and Contract Process: A Basic Guide"  here.