Demystifying the RFP Process
3. Provide accurate, complete information. You’ve heard the expression, “garbage in/garbage out.” The more data you provide to the agency, the better its response. Include such details as:
- the reason for your agency search (change, new ideas, etc.);
- current challenges;
- specifics regarding existing and past programs;
- organizational background, history and mission;
- samples of current materials and an explanation of what worked and what didn’t;
- description of current processes;
- comprehensive outline of services you need and why;
- budgeting guidelines;
- clear instructions; and
- description of the review and feedback process.
4. Ask for comprehensive short-term plans. Most likely an agency will not be adequately equipped to provide extended-term plans (five-plus years), but a one- to two-year plan may be much more feasible, depending on the information you provide. The more meaningful the data you supply, such as current membership rate, profile of top donors and lifetime value to your organization, the better equipped an agency will be to meet your current and near-term needs. But don’t judge the response by the estimated net income or number of new donors generated. Rather, look at the process by which the agency came to its conclusions and recommendations.
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.
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 that you have invited to submit proposals, 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.