In the Trenches: The RFP Process
A word about spec creative. Be mindful that providing spec creative costs an agency time and money. Consider requesting creative in a second phase after you have eliminated those you no longer are considering. In the first phase, request a variety of examples of past work to get a feel for the agency’s concepts and ideas, communication style and relevance to your particular mission. Requesting spec work after this phase indicates to the agency that you are seriously considering it.
5. Keep the lines of communication open. Do your part to keep all parties informed, and encourage agencies to call you with questions. If one agency has a question, share it with the other agencies whom you have invited to submit a proposal, as they are all likely to have the same concern. Remember that agencies will call you to determine if your organization would be a good fit for them. My agency has invested many hours researching and crafting responses to RFPs, ranging from “vague” to really “buttoned-down.” Frankly, there is a tendency to work extra hard on a proposal for someone to whom you have actually spoken.
And finally, let agencies know why they did — or did not — make it to the next phase. We’ve often learned more about how to improve our fundraising services from frank discussions with organizations that didn’t choose us, than continuing on with a seemingly happy client that does not provide feedback.
6. Select a registered agency. Your fundraising agency should feel the same responsibility for good stewardship as you do. Be sure you choose one that adheres to the code of ethics published by The Association of Direct Response Fund Raising Counsel, The Direct Marketing Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Issues of donor privacy, contracts and accountability are too important to involve those who do not understand them. And make sure that your fundraising counsel is registered in every state that requires it.