Three steps to creating an RFP

Part two of a two part series

Three steps to creating an RFPBuilding a fundraising program – or preparing for a campaign – often requires contracting for services. These can include campaign counsel in general, or more specific services such as a feasibility study, major gifts strategy, marketing services, proposal writing, strategic planning, campaign planning, and/or social media management. Contracting is often the right way to secure the services you need for a specific project, but which you don’t need to retain on staff.

When preparing to contract for services, issuing an RFP can be a fair and equitable way to identify the right vendor or consultant. As noted in part one of this series, it also takes time. When you are ready to craft an RFP, here are three things to consider.

First, do not use a “cookie-cutter” RFP to represent your needs. You can use other RFPs as a guide, but make sure the document represents your needs. And, when blending language from other RFPs, have someone from outside your team proofread it to make sure the questions are clear and nonrepetitive.

Second, when it comes to actual content, ensure your RFP includes the following:

    1. Three steps to creating an RFPA short introductory description of the goods or services you want to contract for.
    2. A concise description of your organization, its mission, vision, impact and strategic goals.
    3. Qualifications (if any) that are required by proposers
    4. Page limit for respondents (if any)
    5. Number and type of references required
    6. Selection criteria. Describe how proposals will be evaluated and what weight will be given to each of the selection criteria.
    7. RFP schedule. Include the date the RFP is released; date by which questions from proposers should be submitted; date by which you as the issuer will respond; due date for proposal submission; date by which decision will be made; date by which all responders will be notified; date that work is anticipated to begin. Note: selecting a vendor is the first step in getting a vendor under contract – be sure to allocate time in your schedule to negotiate and sign a contract for the proposed goods or services.
    8. Financial proposal. Many organizations ask that the proposal be submitted in two separate documents. The first is the response to the RFP questions. The second is the financial proposal. This allows the team who is reviewing the proposals to evaluate them based on the services offered first, and to then evaluate the associated costs.
    9. Define how you want the proposals submitted. For example, do you want six printed copies or do you want the document emailed?

Three steps to creating an RFPThird, schedule your team to keep with the timeframe included in the RFP. Ensure everyone has time to read the responses. Create an evaluation matrix that each reviewer can use to document their assessment. Then bring everyone together to discuss, and as appropriate interview.

Issuing an RFP and evaluating proposals can be the first step in building a team and creating a discipline that will carry you through your fundraising. Enjoy the process.

Part One – RFP exposure: good or bad?

Don’t forget:

Copyright 2019 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Saad&Shaw are hosting a fundraising workshop at the Ocean City Jazz Festival July 4th through 7th in North Top Sail, NC. Join us there. Learn more at

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