Embarking on a quest can be daunting. Embarking on a quest for a new technology project is especially so.
On trips and quests in life, we often start by finding a map or connecting with someone else who has been down that road.
Unfortunately, for nonprofit organizations trying to find new technology tools, often there is not such a clear way to begin. Also, there are a plethora of new technology tools available everyday, there are many myths about technology and tech experts, and there are often inconsistencies within organizations around the vision for the technology deliverable.
Here at Aspiration, we are in awe of the on-the-ground work being done by nonprofits and community organizations. At the end of the day, this mission-critical work is priority, and technology decisions should support the same.
That said, we believe that the Request for Proposal (RFP) process is a critical part in any enterprise-level nonprofit tech sourcing adventure.
Taking the time to first articulate what they are looking for, helps nonprofits to save time and money by pinpointing what specific needs they have for the tech tool to fulfill. A Request for Proposal can help staff identify and develop a clear and shared vision for what they hope this new technology platform will accomplish.
The material that goes into an RFP is also valuable fodder for engaging with the ultimate users of any new solution. It is a concrete touch point for asking questions like “is this what you need” and “what did we forget?”
A properly specified RFP is an essential tool in the backpack of anyone hoping to acquire accurately specified technology.
An RFP represents:
- A clear statement of your vision, ensuring that your organizational vision and the vision for the tech deliverable make sense.
- An understanding of the processes that this tech tool needs to support at your organization.
- A shared vocabulary, or bridge of understanding, that unifies project stakeholders and which ideally spans the life of the project and beyond.
Aspiration has worked with many nonprofits over the years on their search for technology solutions, as well as with many technologists trying to develop technology tools that meet the unique needs of nonprofits. Aspiration Executive Director Allen Gunn shares his knowledge and experience in this webinar, “How to write a Nonprofit RFP“.
For more information about putting together an RFP, including a template to get your started, check out:
The concept of RFPs can be daunting to those who have not authored one, and even for those who understand the importance. This webinar attempts to demystify some of the confusion about how to write one, what to include, and when one is needed.
Nonprofits have used the Aspiration RFP Process for projects such as:
- Web site design and redesign, specifying target audiences and the specific benefits and utility the new or enhanced site will provide.
- Database or CRM implementation, articulating what information needs to be managed and how it will support programmatic and operational objectives.
- Vetting a technology strategy by describing how a tool or platform will connect the full range of stakeholders.
Preparing an RFP, just like preparations for a trip, can help you to arrive pleasantly at your desired destination. And because technology deliverables are just milestones on a longer journey, RFPs can serve as valuable touchstones in your longer mission trek.
So, what are your thoughts on this often-debated topic?
What problems have you encountered when trying to find a tech solution?
And what experiences have you had in trying to employ RFPs in your processes?