2 min Read
October 8, 2014

Five things to include in your next RFP

Big Duck

There’s nothing I like more than a well-thought-out, comprehensive request for proposals (ok, that might be an exaggeration, but I’m trying to make this fun). We’ve read hundreds of RFPs here at Big Duck, and we see nonprofits using them more and more to solicit proposals from potential communications agency partners—often in an attempt to assess different firms with standardized criteria.

If you’re preparing an RFP for a communications initiative now or soon, I’m here to help. Here’s five things I’d encourage you to include:

1. The problem you want to solve. What’s causing you and/or your organization pain, when it comes to communicating? Write up a summary of what success looks like, or the pain you’re trying to soothe, rather than a list of project deliverables. It’s the consultant’s job to recommend the process and deliverables you go through to solve your problem, and chances are each firm will have its own approach. At this stage, you don’t yet need to worry about everything it will take to get to success.

2. Your budget. If you’re issuing an RFP to a range of firms or vendors, it’s likely that you’ll get a range of responses in terms of cost. If possible, reach out to each firm first to get a sense of what they charge. It’ll save you time.

3. Your timeline. Also, an explanation of what’s driving it, if there’s something specific driving it. If you’re in a rush because you’re just plain eager to get the work done, that’s helpful to know too.

4. A deadline that’s at least two weeks out. It takes time for an agency to craft a thoughtful response to your RFP, so make sure you leave enough time in your RFP calendar for that to happen. Two weeks tends to be sufficient, but more time is always better. I’ve received RFP’s due the next day, but since I’m probably busy eating oysters under the DUMBO archway, it’s going to be hard for me to turn that around.

5. Your digits. Be willing and available to talk about your RFP, at least for a few minutes over the phone. Blasting it out and only having real conversations after you’ve received proposals can be like going on a blind date and expecting the other person to show up with an engagement ring. Even more ideal? We’ve chatted before you distribute the RFP.

Consider these things when you’re writing, and you’ll make all of your RFP recipients’ dreams come true!