Demystifying the RFP Process
The request for proposal can sometimes be the official “first date” for most agency/nonprofit organization relationships. It sets the tone for the partnership and provides a road map for future success.
While each RFP is unique, there are straightforward guidelines that will help you prepare a document for effectively matching your needs with agency offerings. Here are some tips:
1. Ask the right questions. While you’re looking for an agency to support you, it’s the people who work at the agency with whom you’ll be dealing on a daily basis. There has to be a synergy in overall philosophy, personality and work style for both parties to be productive and successful.
Be sure to ask questions that will offer insight into these important relationship-building traits.
In order to transform an objective “wish list” into reality, start from the end result and work in. What is it that you wish to accomplish? And what is most important to you in getting there? Communicate what you want by asking strategic questions. For example, if agency size is important, ask the agency to not only tell you how many employees it has (in-house and freelance), but also how the staff will be organized to serve your organization after a contract is signed. You’ll protect yourself from being awed by a great presentation made by an agency that lacks commitment or resources after you say “yes.”
2. Offer a realistic time frame. Competent fundraising agencies, given the time, will dig into their pools of research and experience to provide you with keen insights on potential new strategies. Realistic observations are worth a whole lot more than hollow promises. There are cases where time is at a premium, of course, but when you can, offer a month or more. Any less and the agency might have trouble providing creative assessments and competitive quotes.