November 27, 2023
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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Like any smart business decision, purchasing donor management software (often called a fundraising CRM or constituent relationship management system) for your nonprofit involves a good deal of forethought and coordination. There are a wide variety of platforms to choose from and a number of people who will be affected by your choice. Writing a request for proposal (RFP) allows you to effectively navigate this process by ironing out details of the decision, like your budget, pain points with your current solution, and must-haves in your new software.
If you’ve never heard of a request for proposal before, it is a written document outlining your nonprofit’s service or software needs. You then distribute your nonprofit RFP to companies that can potentially fulfill your requirements. The RFP will clearly outline the steps the service or software provider needs to complete in order to submit a proposal to your nonprofit. Let’s review what your RFP might look like to uncover its potential benefits.
Below you will find the essential components of a nonprofit request for proposal, but remember this is your document and should be flexible to meet your organization’s needs.
Start by introducing your organization. Take this opportunity to discuss the services you offer to your community and outline the types of fundraising you conduct, as this will be pertinent to your software needs.
This is also a great place to outline your current pain points with your existing solution. With this information, those submitting proposals will be better able to evaluate if they are a good fit and can highlight how they will meet the needs of your nonprofit.
Benefits: Uncover the pain points that hinder your operations. This will help you rank what features will be most important to you when evaluating possible solutions.
It is helpful to include your budget so that those submitting a proposal know the parameters they can work within to meet your software needs.
Divulging your spending limit may feel uncomfortable, but organizations need to know what services and features you can afford when they’re writing their proposal to you. The very nature of submitting an RFP should help keep competitors and their prices fair, as each knows they are vying for your business.
In the project requirements, you want to be very specific about what you need from the CRM software provider. This could include things like how many users will need logins and training, data tracking requirements, and timelines you need to work within. Below are some ideas of the types of items you may want to include in this section.
Benefits: Each stakeholder will come to an agreement on what your project requirements are and what budget you have to work with. This is the right time to come to an agreement rather than during any negotiations with outside vendors.
If you have specific questions you want the vendors to answer, make sure you ask them in the RFP. Here are some ideas for the types of questions you may want to ask:
Benefits: Take the opportunity to write down every question you have to complete a thorough investigation into potential software companies. This takes the pressure off of you during sales calls, so you can focus on demonstrations and the proposal.
In your request for a proposal, it’s important to outline the process of submission. There are some essential components to include:
Benefits: You’ll have multiple comparable documents on hand to make a smart decision that will work best for your organization.
RFPs are a great place to start your search for a new fundraising solution, but your evaluation shouldn’t just be about finding the right software features. It’s also about your mission and your staff. When your fundraising software choice is based on your goals and how to achieve them, your investment will be the right one. For more guidance, download our free How to Buy Fundraising Software guide below!