RFP for Nonprofits [Used by 1000s of Organizations]

Brand Strategy & Identity
Silvia Li Sam
Founder & CEO

If you found this nonprofit RFP template, it means you're looking for resources to find the most qualified agencies for your project or organization.

At Slam Media Lab (Slam), we understand the challenges nonprofits face in finding the right creative agency. Before starting Slam, our team worked with nonprofits of all sizes, from local community organizations to international nonprofits across the country. We have also received numerous nonprofit RFPs throughout the years in multiple fields: education, climate, immigration, tech, health, and politics.

Writing an effective RFP for a creative marketing agency in the nonprofit sector requires careful consideration of your organization's specific needs and goals. Throughout the years, we've noticed that many nonprofits make the same mistakes during this process. It’s either too general or way too specific, which will get you marketing agencies who aren’t qualified to do your work.

To help you find the right creative and advertising agency for your nonprofit, we’re releasing Slam’s exclusive nonprofit RFP template for you to download. In addition, we will provide a nonprofit RFP example to guide you in the process.

How to Fill Out the Nonprofit RFP Template Right

The nonprofit RFP process begins with ensuring your team agrees on your organization's needs and objectives for the project. It is important that you  avoid using vague language.

Make sure to provide specific goals and requirements. For example: "Our nonprofit organization is seeking a creative agency to develop a comprehensive marketing campaign to raise awareness for our cause and engage our target audience."

To help you create an effective nonprofit RFP, here's a quick checklist:

  1. Clearly communicate your project needs and goals: Avoid using buzzwords and provide specific objectives. For example: "We aim to increase our donor engagement and fundraising efforts through a multi-channel marketing campaign, including social media, email marketing, and events."
  2. Share a reasonable timeline: Allow nonprofit marketing agencies enough time to thoroughly answer your questions and provide quality proposals. Rushed timelines often result in subpar responses. A timeline of 2-3 weeks is usually reasonable, depending on the scope of the project.
  3. Define the characteristics of a great nonprofit partner: Outline the qualities you are looking for in a creative marketing agency. For instance, you might specify that you prefer an agency with experience in nonprofit marketing, a team that is passionate about your cause, and a track record of successful campaigns.
  4. Limit the number of agencies responding to your RFP: Having too many options can make it difficult to choose. Our recommendation is to select 5-7 marketing agencies and engage in a pre-RFP discussion with them before sending the request for proposal. This will help you narrow down your options to those agencies that are genuinely interested and aligned with your mission.
  5. Provide a budget range: Being transparent about your budget ensures that you receive proposals that align with your financial capacity. Clearly communicate the range you are willing to invest in the project. This will help you narrow down the right partners who can work within your budget constraints.
  6. Share your decision-making criteria: Clarify how you will evaluate and select the right agency. Specify the decision-making process, who will be involved, and the expected timeline for decision-making. This level of transparency provides clarity to the agencies and streamlines the evaluation process.
  7. Be honest: If you don't have all the answers or if there are aspects of the project that are still open for discussion, it's OK to mention that in the nonprofit RFP. Open communication allows agencies to understand your organization better and propose appropriate solutions.

Navigating this process is no joke. Just in 2022, there were 88,000 advertising and creative agencies. So finding the right one requires both an understanding of how to pick an agency, and a clear understanding of your own project and scope.

Slam is an award-winning nonprofit marketing agency! We’ve helped organizations like Peer Health Exchange, Elemental Excelerator, SEAL, Easterseals, Fresh Approach, LTX Connect, and dozens more on their branding, SEO, content marketing, and web design.

If you’d like to partner with us, contact us here. We’re usually booked 1-2 months in advance. 

P.S. We’ll leave you with the most common mistakes from nonprofits when filling an RFP.

Most Common Mistakes in Marketing & Creative Brand Agency RFPs

Here are some common mistakes that nonprofits make when filling out an agency RFP:

  1. Lack of understanding of your own project: Nonprofits may sometimes struggle to clearly define their project goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve? More followers? More brand awareness? More traffic to your site? List it up.
  2. Overcomplicating the Agency RFP: Aim to keep their nonprofit RFP concise and easy to understand. Avoid using overly technical or jargon-heavy language that may confuse agencies. Instead, provide clear and straightforward information about the project, the desired outcomes, and any specific challenges or opportunities the nonprofit faces.
  3. Ambiguous pricing: Clearly communicate your budget constraints or range. Nonprofits often have limited financial resources, and it's important to ensure that agencies are aware of the financial constraints when submitting proposals. This helps prevent agencies from submitting proposals that fall outside the nonprofit's budget.
  4. Unclear or unrealistic timelines: Include a realistic timeline for the project, including important milestones and deadlines. Rushed timelines can lead to poor-quality work, while unrealistic timelines may discourage agencies from participating in the RFP process.
  5. Unclear stakeholders: Identify and communicate the key decision-makers and stakeholders involved in the project. This helps marketing nonprofit agencies understand who they will be working with and who will be responsible for making decisions throughout the process.
  6. No clear channels for marketing agencies to ask questions: Provide agencies with easily accessible contact information and channels for communication. Encouraging agencies to ask questions helps clarify any uncertainties and ensures that agencies have a clear understanding of the project requirements before submitting proposals.
  7. Lack of evaluation criteria: Clearly define the evaluation criteria that will be used to assess agency proposals. This allows nonprofits to objectively evaluate and compare proposals based on specific factors, such as experience, expertise, alignment with the nonprofit's mission, and proposed strategies.
  8. Asking for client references too early: Nonprofits should consider the timing of requesting client references. It's often beneficial to evaluate agency proposals based on their merits, before delving into client references. Requesting references too early in the process may limit the pool of potential agencies or delay the evaluation process unnecessarily.

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