This is the USAID Proposal You Always Wanted to Write

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We know the pain of USAID proposals. The intense RFP jargon, passive RFI sentences, and endless pages of obtuse contract requirements that spring forth around holidays. Oh and its not just your imagination – GovTribe found a conspicuous increase in USAID solicitation postings just before holidays and in proposal due dates just after.

We also know that deep in the midst of writing a proposal to USAID, you are dying to get cheeky and tell USAID exactly what you think of their Expression of Interest. So we did.

The JadedAid Proposal to USAID

Deep in the midst of our Kickstarter last year, we submitted a crowdsourced proposal to USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) funding mechanism that runs a year-round competition for innovative innovators innovating innovation.

We think you’ll kinda like it. USAID surely did!

We’re done pleasing the donor at any cost!
Be sure to download the free print-at-home PDF or buy a card game or t-shirt now to ensure our sustainability.

Annex 1: Expression of Interest (EOI)

Development Innovation Ventures Expression of Interest Form

All applicants MUST use this form to apply

By submitting this EOI, your organization is certifying that the answers to the questions are accurate to the full extent of your organization’s knowledge.    

  1. Organization Information
    • Organization legal name: JTW Productions, LLC
    • Organization type: For-profit Company
  1. Overview Information
    • Project title: JadedAid Country-Centered Catharsis (JAC3)
    • DIV stage. Stage 2: Testing and Preparing to Scale
    • Total funding requested (USD): 1,000,000
    • Proposed cost share (USD) : Whatever wins us this award
    • Which of the following best describes the sector your solution addresses? Development Sector
    • Secondary sector, if any:
    • Partner organizations: Local Resource Partners to be suckered in to join us or whoever is the hot partner this week, but definitely a women-owned meerkat milk farming collective.
    • Primary country where the project will take place: 100+ USAID Mission countries prioritized by per diem and danger pay level
    • Secondary country/countries (if any) where the project will take place: Tropical countries w/ pristine beaches (the browner the people, the better) and high end mixed drinks and cocktails
    • Expected duration of project activities (months): 1,000 Days
    • Expected source of financial support at scale (long-term widespread implementation): Commercialize without donor or government support
    • Has the applicant ever received USAID funding in the past? Not directly, but we’ve been living off The Man for years
    • Has the applicant received USG funding for this or a similar project? If only!
    • Has the applicant received DIV funding for this or a similar project? No
    • How did you initially hear about DIV? Vague memory the morning after an ICT4Drinks happy hour
    • Please specify the DIV staff member who referred you to submit this LOI, if applicable: Unpaid intern behind the DIV@USAID Twitter account who tweeted this.
  1. Project Information
    Please review the information available on our website and any stage-specific expectations before answering the following questions.

    • What is the problem your innovation addresses?
      We see a crisis in the Development-Industrial Complex. Hardworking staff are not laughing enough. Instead of enjoying luxurious housing, limitless mobile data plans, shiny new luxury SUVs, and global shopping trips like government ministers, they are overwhelmed by delusional fits from antimalarials as they swerve around corrupt cops looking for a bribe while trying to get the perfect picture of an ex-child soldier attending a donor-branded school.
    • Describe your specific innovation and the outcomes you expect. Who are your customers/beneficiaries? How will your innovation significantly address the problem at lower cost in a way that has not been feasible before? Note: Some might describe this as the theory of change.
      We believe that by introducing JadedAid, a card game for aid workers to be the cynicism they want to see in the world, in conjunction with copious indigenous refreshments and fat per diems, we will save more humanitarians than mefloquine. This unique combination will induce belly laughter that melts away the frustrations of working tirelessly for little pay.
    • What are the possible avenues (public, commercial, hybrid) for scaling up over the next 3-10 years, and what are your plans to achieve greater scale?
      We see JadedAid scaling to millions of past, present, and future aid workers through unique and innovative local community sensitization sessions in every USAID presence country. We will utilize a global network of consultants to parachute into self-organizing teams of local development leaders, training them on grassroots outreach best practices that will unleash personal initiative to be the cynicism they wish to see in the world. This activity is currently being piloted. Initial pilot testing has proven quite fruitful thus far with further design parties scheduled to take place in more than 5 countries on 3 continents.
    • What are the characteristics and estimated number of direct and indirect beneficiaries? Provide the most appropriate estimate of who the innovation will directly affect, including income groups and other demographics. Please explain your calculations, including relevant assumptions. DIV recognizes that precise estimates may be difficult, especially for early-stage applicants, and is most interested in the underlying assumptions to generate what you think represents a reasonable number.
      We expect to impact just over 7 billion people. Our key target market is development professionals, which includes all underpaid staff and unpaid interns with international development actors (donor, implementer, self-funded, and religious organizations, Beltway Bandits, gap year kids, and disillusioned lost souls trying to find themselves in Africa). Our secondary market is the 1.2 billion people in fully developed countries that achieved societal perfection, who support development workers through direct donations or federal taxes. By directly impacting these first and secondary markets, we will increase their effectiveness in developing a sense of humor among the entire global population.
    • Describe current solutions that exist in the geographic area where you will implement your innovation and outline how your solution will be a better alternative.
      JadedAid knows no geographical boundaries. We are Cyniques sans Frontières and we see a global problem. Aid workers everywhere resort to offline emotional releases like dating beneficiaries or humble bragging on social media like Facebook and Snapchat. JadedAid seamlessly integrates with all of these options, increasing their efficacy and through repeated use, expanding the aid worker community’s resilience against persistent clouds of pessimism. Or in some cases, users that have emotional angst may choose to use JadedAid to serve as a distraction from such behaviors.
    • What activities will you execute under this grant and what results do you anticipate achieving with DIV funds?
      The DIV funds will be leveraged to engage in innovative community sensitization and capacity building sessions in select high per diem locations in partnership with self-organizing teams of humanitarians. We will motivate our unpaid interns to upskill themselves to become Train-the-Trainer consultants who will support the humanitarian teams in deploying our proven JadedAid methodology across development sectors, breaking down inherent power structures that are restraining humanitarian innovation, like micro-loans for village brothels or iPads for poor schoolchildren.
    • Explain how you intend to assess the innovation, given your stage and scaling path (e.g.. how you will assess proof of concept, commercial viability, causal impact and cost effectiveness, etc.)
      Through the proven JadedAid methodology, which includes a triptych of feigned optimism, cynicism, and alcoholism, humanitarians will be able to access intrinsic innovation and motivation resources, such as trying to pee while an audience of children watch or successfully navigating the World Bank’s online proposal submission interface.
    • What are the relevant metrics you will use to judge the success of this grant and how will you convey those regularly to DIV?
      We will develop our M&E plan in the last 6 months of the program based on the number of helpies (selfies while helping poor people, preferably with flies in their faces) taken by overly-earnest youth or hipsters on the Humanitarians of Tinder network. Helpies will be disaggregated by number of Facebook likes and Twitter favorites. We will send every crowdsource-verified sexy helpie to DIV as part of routine monitoring. This will contribute to a number of Mission level indicators under DO3: No one died and DO5: all photos make USAID look good.
    • Explain how this innovation can be sustained and scaled (operationally and financially) while maintaining impact and cost effectiveness, and how you intend to support the next step in the transition to scale?
      JadedAid is already financially sustainable, as evidenced by our Kickstarter which was funded in less than 48 hours and is currently nearly 250% funded by date of proposal submission. By the time you even respond to this proposal, the card decks will be printed and shipped, and if you do fund us, we expect your funds to clear our accounts while we’re developing the 23rd expansion pack. Really, this is about how quickly your support can be scaled and sustained. You don’t want the one success story to slip through your hands so the Gates Foundation gets the credit again, do you?
    • Lead Organization: Briefly describe the lead implementing organization, including their mission statement (if applicable) and any relevant experience.
      JTW Productions’ mission is to transition ourselves into sweet jobs with donor organizations so we never have to write proposals like this one again. Until then, we seek to scale JadedAid into a profitable business that will support our indigenous alcohol addiction. Oh yeah, and help humanitarians hate their world a little less by laughing at it.
    • Project Team: Describe the composition of the project team including key personnel, discussing the skills and experience they contribute to the proposed objectives, and how they can address potential risks and challenges associated with the proposed project. Specify their % level of effort for this project.
      JTW Productions is the equal efforts of TMS Ruge, an honest-to-God African working on delusions of relevance, Wayan Vota, who found his calling in convincing poor schools to buy shiny gadgets, and Jessica Heinzelman, a noted expert in cultural appropriation of African dress.
    • Partners: Describe partner organizations (if any) and what skills and experience they contribute to implementing or scaling the project. Please distinguish between partners that have already agreed to participate, organizations (or types of organizations) that you will target, and organizations providing financial support.
      We are in the process of identifying local resource organizations who are foolish enough to promise to organize local capacity building sessions and provide indigenous refreshments, and a live goat, as cost-share without dedicated budget line items in our proposal. We promise to adhere to industry standards of keeping a minimum of 20% to feed our NICRA, and 70% for our staff salaries and per diems, leaving them 10% or less to accomplish what we are asking.
    • Please provide up to three past performance references that can speak to the ability of the applicant to work effectively as part of a team, achieve results, or successfully implement projects similar in magnitude, complexity, objectives and in contexts within the past three years. Please provide applicable awards numbers or other details if relevant, as well as contact information for the primary point of contact. Newer organization or applicants will little or no prior related grant awards may provide alternative references, e.g, professional references for key personnel. When applicants have received a previous DIV award, DIV will also consider the applicant’s past work with DIV. – USAID reserves the right to obtain past performance information from all relevant sources, including those not named here.
      Principal staff past performance indicators include Teddy Ruge’s 14,100+ Twitter followers, 1.5 times as many as USAID DIV, Wayan Vota’s United Airlines 100K status, maintained for 6 years now, and Jessica Heinzelman’s naming as “most likely to be a game show host” by her 8th grade peers. Obviously, they are over-qualified to attend any school or clinic opening without at least two rounds of indigenous singing and dancing. References include the 800+ JadedAid Kickstarter backers and the principles’ loving parents, especially Ms. Sarah Vota, as evidenced by her liking every single one of Wayan’s Facebook posts.
  1. Citations Please list citations for above sections below (only content written in the LOI will be reviewed as part of the application; these citations will be used to verify factual accuracy if necessary).
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That Time We Asked USAID for $1 Million in JadedAid Funding…

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Deep in the midst of our Kickstarter last year, we got a cheeky tweet and decided to submit a crowdsourced proposal to USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) funding mechanism that runs a year-round competition for innovative innovators innovating innovation.

Our proposal was pure JadedAid, and included zingers like:

G. Explain how you intend to assess the innovation, given your stage and scaling path (e.g.. how you will assess proof of concept, commercial viability, causal impact and cost effectiveness, etc.)

Through the proven JadedAid methodology, which includes a triptych of feigned optimism, cynicism, and alcoholism, humanitarians will be able to access intrinsic innovation and motivation resources, such as trying to pee with an audience of children or successfully navigating the World Bank’s online proposal submission interface.

Contrary to our previous experience with US Government procurement processes, DIV’s response was lightening fast and, wow! Their determination letter is epic.

We’ve been holding on to this for just the right moment… so with the primary season wrapping up and Jimmy Fallon slow jammin’ Obama’s contributions, we’re joining in to celebrate the creativity, humor and innovation that the current administration has brought to DC!

Below is their response to us, verbatim.

We love you, DIV! – Jessica, Wayan & Teddy

We’re done pleasing the donor at any cost!
Be sure to download the PDF or buy a deck now to ensure our sustainability.


From: DIV Applications (USAID)
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2015 16:59
Subject: An Update on the Status of Your DIV Expression of Interest (EOI)

Dear JTW Productions,

Thank you for your application to the Development Innovation Ventures program. We appreciate you taking the time to review our solicitation and submit a response.

Unfortunately, your project was not selected for award. Organizations are able, however, to address deficiencies and re-apply with a new Expression of Interest (EOI). There is no deadline for EOI submission, because DIV is now on a rolling application process. Please note that, due to the competitive nature of the process, addressing the weaknesses provided in the debriefing below does not guarantee acceptance in subsequent rounds.

Please see below for strengths and weaknesses noted by DIV.

*Evaluation Factor 1: Cost-effective Innovation* Potential to address a significant development challenge in a cost-effective way.

Factor 1 Rating: Good – Meets requirements. While the applicant demonstrates an ability to complete the work in some areas, there are some significant deficiencies. However, these combined weaknesses still represent a manageable performance risk.

*Evaluation Factor 2: Monitoring and Evaluation* Ability to generate data or evidence to prove development impact.

Factor 2 Rating: Meh. Fair – Minimally meets basic requirements or demonstrates a limited understanding of the requirements. Implementation of the proposed project would likely lead to unsatisfactory performance. Contains deficiencies and significant weaknesses that may negatively affect performance.

*Evaluation Factor 3: Implementation and Scale Plan* Potential to scale operationally and sustain activities beyond USAID financial support

Factor 3 Rating: Fair – Minimally meets basic requirements or demonstrates a limited understanding of the requirements. Implementation of the proposed project would likely lead to unsatisfactory performance. Contains deficiencies and significant weaknesses that may negatively affect performance.

*Evaluation Factor 4: The Team* Capacity of the Innovator/Innovation Team to successfully implement the innovation

Factor 4 Rating: Very Good – Demonstrates overall competence, meets all minimum requirements and exceeds requirements in some areas but not all. Despite some identified weaknesses, the applicant demonstrates that it can successfully complete all deliverables in a timely, efficient, and economical manner.


  • Potential impact could be more than Teddy Ruge’s 14,100+ Twitter followers or all of the people Wayan Vota reaches in his first-class cabin using his 100K status. We also see this as a direct call to improve our Twitter game. We will tell our full-time, adult colleague who runs our Twitter handle to step it up.
  • The application used the word “triptych” in a sentence. Clearly someone on your team has been waiting for years for an opportunity to do that. So, bravo.
  • Correct usage of the word “schoolchildren” in the phrase “iPad for schoolchildren” instead of the improper deployment of a space between “school” and “children”
  • There is a strong pathway to scale, though perhaps in the wrong market — we would all buy this. Some of us may have secretly already supported the Kickstarter. Don’t tell anyone.


  • The application could be strengthened with improved evidence of assumptions supporting the theory of change. While the development professionals contract-management experts reviewing this application appreciate any and all opportunities to consume alcohol, it is unclear whether belly laughter or soul-crushing despondency will result from daily reminders of the inner workings of the Development-Industrial Complex.
  • Please submit a mitigating and monitoring plan for the risk of soul-crushing despondency in beneficiaries. The mitigating and monitoring plan must include several subscriptions to wine of the month clubs to be delivered weekly to Washington, DC.
  • The Expression of Interest submitted includes neither glossy, well-lit photos of smiling beneficiaries nor helpies with said beneficiaries. Small et. al 2007 has shown that well-lit photos and helpies generate more funding than text-based, and data-driven presentations of complex, global problems. Therefore, the inclusion of well-lit photos would better demonstrate your commitment and ability to address your theory of change and would strengthen your application.
  • Please include a Results Framework that clearly lays out the vision, goals, objectives, sub-objectives, results, intermediate results, sub-intermediate results, proxy-sub-intermediate results, surrogate-proxy-sub-intermediate results, outcomes, incomes, outputs, inputs, underputs, and sideputs for your activities, with outyear targets for 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, and Saved By the Bell: The College Years.
  • Please describe how the JadedAid methodology is “proven”. What are the results from your pilot test? How is “feigned optimism, cynicism, and alcoholism” measured among beneficiaries? Furthermore, the application lacks sufficient evidence the cards are truly effective at convening the capacity building sessions. The application would be strengthened with sharing data and tangible results of the pilot test (published research paper, youtube video, facebook photos, etc.).
  • The pathway to financial sustainability is not clear. The applicant relies on the assumption that aid workers will continue to buy and use the game and periodic card expansion packs. This does not adequately account for development fad fatigue. Is JadedAid more than just the flavor of the week?
  • We appreciate your references to new technology platforms such as The Facebook and Kick Starting. However, we have recently been told that the Youths are using Snapchat. We don’t know what that is, but please find a way to incorporate it so we can tell our bosses that we are on the cutting edge. Cutting Edgeness will be assessed in our Annual Evaluation Form personnel assessments.
  • It was noted that “JTW Productions” sounds like a company name made up by a wannabe music entrepreneur with a microphone and Macbook set up in his mom’s garage. Please ensure that all appropriate systems to receive US Government funding, including: registration at, audited financials as described by OMB Circular A-133, NCAGE, DnB, GarageBand for Mac, and compatibility with Microsoft Internet Explorer 95.
  • Too many hyperlinks in the application. Not enough youtube videos of cats, which some scientists claim lead to increased happiness and boosted energy.

We appreciate your time and effort, and will happily accept a EOI from your organization if you decide to resubmit. Should you resubmit, you are encouraged to complete certifications and audits to ensure that you are in compliance with the Fly America Act, the Cargo Preference Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Whiskey Act of 1791, the Guano Islands Act of 1856, the Sister Act, the Sister Act II, and the Ryan Gosling Eat Your Cereal Act.

Warm regards,

DIV Team

*  These comments reflect the views of a lowly contract management specialist on the DIV team who is technically employed by a USAID contractor who shall remain unnamed and do not reflect the views of USAID, the Global Development Lab, or any programs contained therein. We appreciate your sense of humor, we hope you’ll appreciate ours. But on the real: this is a formal notification that your application has not advanced to the next stage in our selection process and will no longer be considered for funding.

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