How to Write a Request for Proposal for New Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Software
Last month, I wrote about how to know when it’s time for new peer-to-peer fundraising software. Once you’ve identified that it is indeed time for new software, then it’s time to find the right software for your nonprofit.
One of the best ways to do this is to issue a request for proposals, or RFP. An RFP is a document that helps you gather proposals and understand how well potential products meet your requirements. It provides details about your project and requests bids from vendors.
A well-developed RFP can go a long way toward the success of your peer-to-peer fundraising software selection.
Eight steps for a successful RFP
Here are eight key steps for creating and issuing an RFP that will get you the most high-quality responses to choose from:
1. Gather stakeholders
Your peer-to-peer fundraising software is used by multiple people. To ensure your new software meets the most needs, pull together a team of stakeholders to create a list of pain points from your current platform as well as a list of requirements and nice-to-haves for your new platform. Your team might include:
- Software administrators
- Past top participants of your peer-to-peer events and campaigns
- Top fundraisers from your past peer to-peer events and campaigns
2. Create your RFP document
Some things that your RFP document should include:
- Non-disclosure agreement (if applicable)
- Your organization’s mission and background
- Your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign history, including online and offline fundraising goals and results as well as challenges with your current software
- A complete list of your software requirements
- A list of your nice-to-haves
- Your RFP timeline/deadlines, including vendor questions, RFP response, product demos and selection timeline
- Preferred/required implementation start and go-live dates
- Your RFP response requirements, including proposal format/outline and RFP questions/responses that you’re requesting
- Your criteria for evaluating RFPs
- How to reply/contact information
3. Send the RFP
Send the RFP to a short list of your top vendor candidates. There are dozens of peer-to-peer fundraising software platforms on the market today. You can narrow the list by doing some initial research online or by working with a software services firm like Cathexis Partners that can help you quickly focus on a handful of technology options that will work best for your organization.
4. Answer vendor questions
Respond to vendors’ questions as quickly as possible so they can provide you with a thorough and accurate proposal. Consider sharing the questions and answers with the other vendors as well so that all vendors have the same information.
5. Review RFP responses
Review all RFP responses with your team of stakeholders. Aim to reduce the number to your top three choices to make the final selection process easier. Notify the other vendors that they were not selected.
6. Schedule product demos
Ask your top vendors to provide demos of their products. To ensure you see the areas of the product that are most important to you, consider providing vendors with a prioritized list of functionality you would like to see. Plan for about 1.5 to 2 hours for each demo. To help evaluate each product, give your stakeholder team a score sheet that lists requirements and nice-to-haves. Ask the team to score the vendor on each item and take any additional notes to help them remember each product’s features. Compile the scores and meet with your team to discuss any lingering questions that you might want to ask each vendor.
7. Make your selection
Pull your stakeholder team together to make a final selection. Have your demo scorecards handy for reference. Discuss the pros and cons of each platform. Keep in mind that pricing is important, but not always the most important factor. In fact, many vendors will negotiate on pricing to win the business, so be sure to select the technology that meets most of your organization’s functional needs.
8. Negotiate the contract
Don’t assume that the initial contract is the final word. As I mentioned, software vendors are often willing to work with you on costs, such as contract length, annual fees, and transaction rates, as well as other points in the contract. Talk with them about your organization’s needs and concerns, and ask what they can do to adjust the contract, if needed.
Mark founded Cathexis Partners in 2008 to help nonprofit organizations get the most from their existing technology tools, implement new technology to address gaps and find the best overall approach to using technology to support their missions. He previously served as director of IT consulting at a fundraising event production company focused on nonprofits.
Mark also serves on the editorial advisory board for NonProfit PRO, where he contributes monthly to his blog, “Nonprofit Tech Matters.”