Four Data-Driven Tips for More RFP Candidates & Responses

Alfredo Ramirez

Although RFPs are great starts to any project, it can be difficult to get responses. Here are four tips for more candidates and better responses to your RFP.

Scroll to the bottom to see our RFP templates (sorry we don't have an anchor link here!).

While some RFPs are too broad or lacking in detail, other RFPs discourage qualified candidates from bidding for the project with its 200-page.

After speaking with hundreds of nonprofit executives, business leaders, agency principals, and other professionals, we identified a few key things agencies look for in their RFPs. RFP issuers, like nonprofits and foundations, can use this information to get smarter and better responses to their RFPs, without drowning in a sea of submissions. Here are some of the top three tips we have to get more responses for your RFP:

Tip #1: Set up time to meet with prospective agencies and vendors

This is the top tip we have to offer: Over half of the agencies we’ve spoken to will simply not respond to an RFP if they can’t get on a call with the issuing organization. In theory, this makes sense: if they can’t make time for mee to ask a few questions and get to know them, why would I make time for them?

This also goes the other way - it gives RFP issuers the chance to build relationships with potential future partners and get to know them for who they are. A proposal and the agency behind it are not abstract ideas; they are a team made up of real people. Get to know each other and see what your work style and culture are like to see if you are a good fit before either of you dedicates too much time to creating or reviewing a proposal.

Tip #2: Provide all the necessary information for respondents

The easiest tip we can offer is to make sure your RFP includes all the necessary information the respondents need. These include:

  1. A detailed project summary
  2. Submission timeline
  3. Budget
  4. Approximate timeline
  5. Submission guidelines
  6. Contact information

Your submission timeline should include the RFP release date, proposal due date, presentation date (if applicable), and a result announcement date. RFP respondents need these essential dates to work out their time frame and plan their bids.

According to 70% of our respondents, RFPs with a specific person of contact come off as more personal and credible, and, thus more appealing to respond to. Whenever possible, provide your contact person’s phone and email in the RFP so that respondents feel at ease when reaching out and communicating.

We’ve written a complete blog post about how to craft the perfect RFP, which you can read more about here.

Tip #3: Be clear with instructions and expectations

Inaction by agencies is often due to uncertainty. According to almost half of our respondent users, they avoid writing proposals for RFPs that do not have clear instructions or expectations. This is even more true if they can’t get on a call with them. Think about it - if an agency doesn’t have enough information to work with and can’t get more of it, how will they write a winning proposal?

To avoid letting opportunities slip away, make sure to clearly state – preferably in a list form – the submission requirements/format, the scope of work and expectations, as well as the selection criteria with which the bids will be evaluated.

Tip #4: Offer at least one month in the proposal

Sometimes you go on vacation, miss an email, or are simply too busy to be working on anything else, either because of your job or life in general.

Based on our client interviews, about 60% of respondents choose not to submit a proposal because they don’t have enough time to work on their proposals for projects they are interested in.

Depending on the scale of your project, give proportionate flexibility with your deadlines for respondents to prepare and submit their proposals. We recommend at least one month for any kind of proposal, though be prepared to offer 6 - 8 weeks for more complex projects that can take more than a few months.

We know that it takes time to get the word out about your RFP, which can eat away potential respondents’ time to prepare and submit. We hope these tips will help you during your next RFP process. And if you’re too strapped for time, Prosal is always here to help.

Check out the links to our RFP templates below:

Website RFP Template

Marketing RFP Template

Strategic Planning RFP Template

Communications RFP Template

Events RFP Template

Branding RFP Template

Evaluation Matrix Guide & Template

Grant Writing RFP Template


Alfredo Ramirez

Alfredo is the COO and Co-Founder of Prosal. He has over ten years of experience working in the nonprofit industry and previously founded a successful digital strategies business, winning over $2 million in RFPs throughout his career. He is an avid mountain biker and snowboarder and enjoys anything that takes him outdoors.

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