A Checklist for Writing an Effective Design Request for Proposal

  • by Christine Batta
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You may be thinking that an effective request for proposal for design work is one that brings you a lot of responses. But what you should be considering is whether your RFP is bringing in the right responses. Especially as a nonprofit, you'll want to find a designer that understands how to help you meet your goals on the budget available.

The proposal process shouldn't just be about finding the cheapest options, either. You are looking for a great working relationship that will help strengthen your organization over time. You want your request for proposals to introduce your organization and your project in a way that allows your potential partners to best introduce themselves to you.

1. Who you are

It may be assumed that those responding to your RFP will dig a bit to learn more about your organization. But instead of letting them click through your website, drawing their own conclusions and connections (from a design that may be out-of-date if you have a web design RFP!), be direct about what you want potential design partners to know about you. This includes articulating business goals, organizational peers and/or keywords for your vision. You should lay the groundwork for being able to hit the ground running when you get started working with your designer.

2. Why you are doing this project

Giving some background as to why you are doing a particular project helps set forth the problems you are hoping to solve. This also helps the designers writing proposals for you to gauge the size of those problems and realistically estimate the time it would take to address them with you. It is also helpful to give context as to why you are doing the project now, identifying any hard deadlines that need to be met. Setting forth tentative timelines and any quick turnaround expectations helps designers see how your work does or does not fit into their schedule.

3. The details

When you cover the details of your design project's needs, you will want to be as specific as possible. For example, a designer will be able to write a better proposal for a website if they know your high-level preferences (such as large use of images, easy to navigate, etc), features that you need (testimonials, volunteer sign-ups, donations, home page slider, etc) and if the content is just being migrated or you will be writing new content. Features for your project may be broken down into must-haves and wish lists to help you get the most for your money. You can find more examples of details you need to give attention to in our SW Creatives RFP guide!

Providing a budget estimate in your RFP will help designers look at your detailed needs and assess what we should or should not recommend in our proposal in order to save costs. This will benefit you greatly in the end. It keeps you from reading through proposals that are way out of budget and it also keeps designers from spending time on writing a proposal (it can take several hours) when their costs are way out of scope to even be considered. It is okay to be transparent about your budget. Once you've gotten through all this content, please don't forget to include your deadline for submitting the proposals and the person to submit to along with their contact information!

Now, this may sound like a lot of writing to tackle. But remember, the effort you invest into an effective RFP will return to you as productive responses and a great start to your nonprofit's design project!

Design Request for Proposal Guide Design Request for Proposal Guide (536 KB)

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