The Request for Proposals (RFP) is essential
to the way many organizations make grants - so improvements in the RFP
process can have a profound impact on grantmaking success. Over the
years, my experience and research have revealed 10 steps a funder can
take to help make RFPs successful:
1. Be crystal clear on what you want to accomplish with your funding initiative.
This means understanding your vision, your
mission, your objectives and strategies, and what dollar amount you want
to use to achieve your goals.
2. Envision your ideal applicants.
Who do you want to apply for this funding
initiative? What kind of organizations? What skill level and experience
do they need to have? Do you want an organization that has been doing
this work for a long time - one you can take to the next level - or
would you prefer to fund a start-up?
3. Put customer service first.
Your first customer is the beneficiary (the
person, family, or community that you seek to help); be sure that your
approach is of greatest value to that person or group. The second
customer is the nonprofit organizations that will be responding to your
RFP. Treat them like customers, not like servants; don't make them jump
through unnecessary hoops or give them unrealistic deadlines.
4. Conduct significant outreach to potential applicants.
If your RFP is open (anyone can apply), how
will your ideal applicant learn about it - what networks and
associations can help you disseminate the RFP? You face similar issues
even with an invitation-only RFP: You might need to do some initial
research to find the best nonprofits to invite - and everyone will need
plenty of time to apply.
5. Get honest feedback from people outside your organization
Share a draft of the RFP with heads of
organizations similar to your ideal applicant or with funder colleagues
from other foundations. Give them permission to give you honest
feedback, including criticism that tests your assumptions. You don't
want to solicit feedback from people who will just tell you that
everything looks great.
Want to learn the other 5 tips? Click here to read the full article.
© 2014 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.