DIV Program is a very considerate and supportive step that works in coordination with new and innovative ideas coming from any and everywhere across the globe. It has been proven as a boon for many NGOs and for us as a society over the years.
The basics of a DIV Program
Development Innovation Venture (DIV) is an endowment program established by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that sponsors several kinds of programs started by various NGOs across the globe providing innovative and successful solutions to the world’s most unmanageable and challenging developmental changes.
The best feature of the DIV program is that it believes that a great idea can come from anyone and anywhere. Hence it does not differentiate if you are a small NGO or a massive organization and focuses on just the solutions that you are providing to the developmental challenges in various sectors. It supports and funds various NGOs around the world that are willing to try new ideas and build strategic plans that work best as solutions to challenges in the field of agriculture, climate, democracy, human rights, world peace, etc. Thus DIV impacts millions of lives by focusing on funding innovative and advanced solutions from NGOs across the globe.
The funds that DIV provides are based on a scale system. For any new project ideas it funds for up to $100,000 and then gives an upscale from $1 million up to $15 million for upgrading these ideas for a continued time period. This ensures reduction of risks at the later stages of the program and helps in making sure that the funding is provided to the most impactful, poignant and economical programs.
The major agenda of DIV is to find and fund solution based programs that support ultra careful, most impactful, vastly economical and practically applicable methods to achieve the afore said for any given challenges.
The benefits of a DIV program for NGOs
A DIV program provides numerous opportunities to different NGOs all across the world that are willing to work for bringing about evolutionary changes in the world. This program is an exclusive chance for anyone and everyone because any NGO from the entire globe is accepted and appreciated to apply for this funding opportunity.
The major benefits of the DIV program include the following:
- This program gives an equal opportunity to all the NGOs across the world irrespective of their country of origin or their area of work thereby encouraging different NGOs to come forward and work towards the environmental growth of the world.
- It welcomes and appreciates ideas from any field or area of interest, and provides funding to programs in almost every category that are working towards achieving transformative changes across the world.
- The major highlight of the DIV program is that it provides funding to new and start-up NGOs as well which is very rare when it comes to other donors. Most donors prefer to fund well established organizations only.
- If your project idea receives initial success, then you are likely to receive an additional funding from the USAID. Hence, there is a greater scope of achieving set targets in a better manner over a long period of time.
- Studies suggest that in the coming future, there will be a limited funding available for NGOs, thus it is very important to establish and execute solutions that are cost effective in nature to counter the ongoing developmental changes in the world.
How does the funding of the DIV programs works?
It is very crucial to understand certain important factors and characteristics which bind the DIV program in order to apply for this grant program. The initial funding from the USAID under the DIV program depends majorly on these factors only. Here are a few tips to understand these fine details in a better manner.
The two main pillars of the DIV program are “innovation” and “cost effectiveness”. Hence, in order to get your proposal approved for the DIV program by the USAID, you need to make sure that your idea is fresh, unique and innovative and the cost required in the project implementation is well worked out. Your idea should provide a cost for the project which is lesser as compared to what is being practiced currently.
As USAID quotes, “These ideas do not have to be technological solutions, but also new business models, new processes, or even novel combinations of tried and true techniques. We look for the solutions potential to scale big, to tens of millions of beneficiaries within ten years.”
USAID is open to projects across any sector of development; however any new project idea undergoes a thorough and ultra careful evaluation in which it is compared with the ongoing project in order to make sure that it fulfills the criteria of “innovation” and “cost effectiveness” thereby qualifying it to receive the funding.
DIV offers the funding in different stages, namely:
- Stage 1 Grants: Pilot (Up to $100,000)
- Stage 2 Grants: Test and Position for Scale (Up to $1,000,000)
- Stage 3 Grants: Transition to Scale (Up to $15,000,000)
In the Stage One, project ideas are submitted in the initial phase where they are tested for their suitability and are then qualified for the funding. DIV provides these projects a funding of up to $100,000 for a year so that the NGOs can start working on their respective ideas and achieve the set goals and also work on their future requirements which they would need for their project’s growth for a continued period of time.
In the Stage Two, the DIV program provides a funding of up to $1 million to any project idea. This generally occurs when the project has completed its stage one successfully and is ready to be spread across a larger region such as the whole country. For getting stage two project funding, NGOs should make sure that their project ideas are thoroughly tested and authenticated and are well prepared to be spread in a larger area.
In the Stage Three, funding of up to $15 million is provided by the USAID’s DIV program which is meant for much larger projects. These projects are generally the ones which have been proven to be successful and suitable for stage two. These projects are given this funding amount to grow for several years and spread across multiple countries.
How to apply for the USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures funding?
To get started with the application procedure of the DIV program under the USAID, you need to understand the two stages of the application process for the same. In the first stage, the NGOs that want to apply for the funding from DIV need to submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) and make sure that the LOI being submitted is in the prescribed format only.
This letter of interest majorly comprises of the information regarding the agenda of your project, its desired aim and the financial information related to it along with the rest of the other related criteria.
For stage two, if the LOI submitted by you is selected in the review and approval process, you will be selected to submit a full application.
The full application form requires some additional and more detailed information from your end and is available for the applicants whose LOI is selected in the process of stage one. The full application form is provided to the selected applicants with all the submission instructions attached to it.
DIV accepts applications throughout the year on a continuous basis which means that their window is always open and you can submit your application at any time.
It is very important to remember the three core principles of the DIV program: (a) rigorous evidence of impact, (b) cost-effectiveness, and (c) a viable pathway to scale and sustainability via the market or public sector. DIV assesses each applicant through the lens of these principles, commensurate to the stage or type of funding sought.
To increase your chances of success, please read the following guidance lines before applying for the program:-
Eligibility and Suitability criteria: There are certain self-screening questionnaires available from the USAID which you can utilize to your benefit and make sure that you are eligible to receive the funding from DIV.
You can go through the DIV’s portfolio to read about the past and current grantees which can help you to determine whether or not your project idea will make a good fit for the application process of the DIV. Also, once you understand the different stages of the DIV funding, you have a better idea of the stage which will be best suited for your project idea.
Step by Step Application Process
Please understand the application process in detail by reading the below steps:
Step 1: Prepare your Letter of Interest (LOI)
You can draft your application or LOI which should be in the prescribed format as laid down by the USAID and ensure to include the main agenda of your project and the information related to its cost.
Step 2: Submit your LOI through the online application portal of DIV
You are supposed to create an account on the DIV portal so that you can work on your application and keep a check on the status of the same after submitting it. DIV reviews applications received via online method only. You can copy paste your application created by you in Step 1 into your account in the portal and submit it after finishing and reviewing it thoroughly.
Once the authorized team reviews all the applications, they are either moved into the due diligence stage (Step 3) or declined. It takes approximately 2-3 months for an application to receive feedback post its submission on the portal.
- The portal is best accessed through Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safar browsers.
- Your application will keep on saving automatically and continuously as you work on the application.
- The application is plain text only.
- Once you submit your application, you will not be able to edit the application.
- Applications are limited to one per project.
Step 3: After the initial review – Due Diligence Stage
If your application is approved by the authorized DIV team, you enter the due diligence stage. Now, in this stage you are supposed to elaborate your project idea and provide the required additional information on your proposal so that the DIV team can have a finer and deeper understanding to your proposal. You may also be asked to participate in some interviews, or provide references which the DIV team can go through to completely assess your application.
It takes about 2 to 5 months for the due diligence process to get completed.
Step 4: After Due Diligence – Negotiation and Finalization Stage
Once the DIV team has evaluated your application thoroughly and have adequate information regarding your proposal, they will hold a Decision Panel which decides whether or not you will receive the funding from DIV. When the panel proposes your project for funding, you will receive an official “Notice of Intent to Award”.
After receiving this, you may start the negotiation process on your set milestones with the DIV team to conclude and settle your sponsorship amount from the USAID. This is very essential as the DIV will provide you funding only on the basis of achieving the targeted goals and milestones.
This process can take up to 2 to 3 months for closure.
Step 5: Receive the DIV Funding
After being selected for the DIV funding, the process for you to receive the funding grant shall get started. In this process, USAID will check for the funding availability along with a confirmation from the US government for the acquisition necessities and will then grant you the decided amount as approved for your proposal.
This process usually takes from 6 to 12 months from the date you submit an application to the date of award finalization to be completed.