How to Write an RFP

How to Write an RFP

Grant writers use a Request for Proposal (RFP) to attract vendor proposals for certain projects. These documents establish project goals, available budget, and desired provider traits. By outlining these details, grantmakers receive proposals from providers that align with their goals and desired qualifications.

Writing a good RFP requires planning and detailed writing. Here are seven RFP steps for grantmakers wondering how to write RFPs.

1. Identify Your Project Goals

Before you draft your RFP, define your project specifics, goals, budget, and other essential details. Initial planning helps you build the framework for your document. The more you prepare, the better you can shape and create your RFP.

Many organizations use bulleted lists to organize their thoughts. Decide RFP factors like:

  • Your desired product or service
  • Key requirements for the product or service
  • An implementation timeline
  • Your budget

It often helps to arrange these points into a concise paragraph. Avoid using highly technical language or industry jargon — just write a clear explanation of the services you need and when you want them delivered. You can use this paragraph as a starting point for your introduction later.

2. Write the Introduction

After identifying your goals, you can start writing the RFP. Most RFPs begin with an introductory section that provides an overview of your organization and industry. This information gives vendors a sense of your current market and the average challenges you face.

The introduction can include details like:

  • Organization background: You could explain broad details like the organization’s purpose, history, objectives, and values. This information gives more context to your upcoming proposal. Vendors can also personalize their responses to align with your business goals, which provides more value to both parties.
  • Current challenges: Provide a brief overview of the obstacles or issues your organization faces. These are the challenges you hope the providers can resolve. Providers can use these details to adapt their proposals and meet those needs.
  • Contact information: You could also include a phone number or email address so interested parties can reach you easily.
woman looking at laptop

3. Describe the Project

Next, describe your project requirements and desired services. This section lets you get as specific as possible about what you need from a provider. The more detail you provide, the more potential organizations can understand your goals and decide whether they can help you.

It helps to break up the information into bulleted lists or smaller sections. You can organize information like: 

  • Short-term project goals
  • Long-term project goals
  • Available budget
  • Provider expectations, such as a certain amount of experience

For example, a government-based organization might write an RFP to build low-income housing. They could use this descriptive section to explain their housing requirements and needs for property managers and builders. The organization might want workers with experience in other low-income neighborhoods. They could also explain how the new housing would benefit residents, such as improving physical and mental health.

4. Explain Your Organization’s Challenges

It’s important to be honest about your organization’s current obstacles that make it more difficult to achieve your goals. These details help providers decide whether they can handle these challenges and allow them to create solutions to these obstacles. Because they know the challenges from the beginning, they have more time to brainstorm ways to address them. If you withhold these details, you could encounter financial or timeline problems later.

Your challenges could consist of anything from budget restrictions to limited leadership presence. For instance, the government RFP example could list problems with a limited budget. They could need a vendor that can build high-quality housing with restricted resources.

5. List Selection Criteria

Next, you can detail the exact selection criteria you seek in an organization. Explain the traits, skills and experience levels you require in a vendor. This list filters your number of submitted proposals, helping you only view relevant responses. If providers see they don’t meet your needs, they can withhold their responses.

Every organization has different selection criteria for their project and needs. You can use this step to define important provider traits. Examples of selection criteria include:

  • Qualifications: Many RFP writers include desired experience and qualifications. It’s best to work with providers with experience in your industry or similar project scopes. You could ask providers to provide proof of their qualifications and experience. For instance, you might ask for an overview of team members and their education and work experience.
  • Cost: You can explain your expectations for cost explanations. You might want to see a breakdown of their upfront, monthly or annual costs. 
  • Testimonials: You might expect providers to share written testimonials and client feedback. These reviews prove the provider can complete projects and work successfully with other clients.

6. Detail Your Desired Timeline and Responses

Another crucial RFP step is a timeline. Provide essential dates like:

  • Closing date for RFP submission
  • Your final selection date
  • The project’s intended start and end dates

Providers can compare these dates to their schedules and determine if they can meet your goals. They can also arrange their schedules and resources to accommodate your plans better. 

Give potential vendors enough time to craft detailed responses and plan for time to review proposals. The more time you allow, the more organized you can become before the project’s start date.

7. Proofread and Edit the Document

Before you submit your RFP, you should proofread and revise it. Even small mistakes can confuse providers and impact their responses. For instance, a mistyped date in your timeline could cause someone to miss a deadline. You can also edit for grammar and clarity, ensuring your RFP is easy to read.

It’s best to collaborate with multiple people while you revise. Multiple pairs of eyes are more likely to catch small errors. You can also create a checklist to ensure you include all the necessary components, from the introduction to your desired timeline.

book a demo with IGX Solutions Today

Book a Demo With IGX Solutions Today

With the right preparation and approach, you can write an RFP that connects you with optimal providers. If you want to improve your grant management processes, partner with IGX Solutions today.

Our IntelliGrants® IGX solution streamlines every aspect of grant management, from initial applications to finance management. Configurable tools and features can meet your organization’s exact needs. You can streamline workflows and boost efficiency across all departments, making it easier to draft proposals and manage funds and projects.

To learn more about IntelliGrants®, book a demo with IGX Solutions today.