Like many of you, our team is feeling the pace of business activity approach pre-pandemic levels. At moss+ross, this means we are seeing multiple Request for Proposals (RFPs) each week. Campaigns that were being considered in early 2020 are being revived; strategic plans and development plans need adjustments to incorporate new ways of delivering programs and engaging with donors; and clients are assessing staffing needs for an increased level of activity.
As we determine our capacity for responding to campaigns, searches, assessments, or other consulting projects, the quality of the RFP helps guide those decisions. The best RFPs have three things in common:
A deadline date. RFPs with defined deadlines for submission and selection will help your organization get to your real goal – starting the project! We have seen RFPs with no deadlines and those with too short of a response window (please allow at least 10 days). A reasonable RFP deadline date will inform your Board and staff that this project is really happening (and not just a 4th quarter project to be undertaken if time allows — and it never does!). You want to convey a sense of urgency that you’re ready to get started and give your potential consultant enough time to respond thoughtfully.
A budget range. Publishing a budget for the requested work will help your organization evaluate its commitment to the project by identifying how much it will really take and where those funds will come from. The RFP budget will need Board input and that will begin to engage Board members in the work ahead.
A concise scope of work. Don’t include the entire history and programmatic menu of your organization. RFPs for successful projects have a succinct needs statement – why the organization is pursuing the project and what it seeks from counsel. Creating this statement will bring clarity to staff and Board about the project’s priority. Is this a Board member or staff’s pet project, or is this something rooted in strategic organizational goals? Knowing the why and what will help those of us responding to your RFP do a better job with the how.
When we see RFPs with these key elements, then we know a project is more likely to be a success, and we want to be a part of it. We look forward to reading your RFPs and more importantly, helping you achieve the goals of those RFPs.