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Really screwing up the RFP process

by The NonProfit Times - October 22, 2013

Learning from mistakes is important, and that can go for organizations as well as individuals. During the 2013 New York Nonprofit Conference sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation, Jacqui Groseth of Union Rescue Mission recounted the request for proposals (RFP) her organization issued.

She also recounted the mistakes the organization made and the lessons learned the hard way.

Groseth said the Mission wanted to purchase a product that would pull the seven different databases throughout various departments into one database to provide quick access to many people of a picture of a constituent’s relationship with the organization.

They did a few things right. They solicited initial input from people who would be impacted. They created a master “Wish List” document prior to beginning research. They had a clear understanding of what they were paying for the products they were using.

Then, there were the things they did wrong.

Groseth offered the following takeaways from the organization’s mistakes:

  • Consider an implementation/transition schedule – build a realistic timeline.
  • Clearly define what is non-negotiable and use it as a tool for first-round cuts.
  • Adjust the goals and non-negotiable list as needed.
  • Avoid the temptation to customize.
  • Do not relinquish decision-making authority to a consultant.
  • Do not sacrifice inclusion of stakeholders for the sake of expedience.


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