Nonprofit Digital Communications

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For those doing digital strategy work, including written or multimedia content for nonprofit websites, social media, and e-newsletters. This group is for those digital communications folks who create written or multimedia content for websites, social media, and e-newsletters for nonprofits. Members will discuss topics such as social media trends, digital analytics, developing content, storytelling, planning and resources, content strategy, and more.

Creating RFP for social media strategy

  • 1.  Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 25, 2018 07:29
    Hi, all. Has anyone created (or responded to) an RFP for social media work? If so, can you share any samples and/or insights?
    Thanks in advance!

    Cindy Wright
    Nonprofit marcom pro

  • 2.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 25, 2018 07:57
    Social media can be a huge waste of time if done poorly. It can also hurt your organization's reputation if done incorrectly or without a plan. In my experience, I aim to have a business goal attached to all social media use. It may not be a directly measurable goal - good will for example - but I can see and measure anecdotally how well we're executing it (sentiment) and how well it's working (we can't afford tools like Meltwater and Hootsuite).

    Things I'd think about, look for, and ask:

    • Which platforms would be involved?
    • How often?
    • What are my business goals and how would this help achieve them?
    • How will I measure ROI on their efforts?
    • How many followers do they have?
    • Who else are they doing this for?
    • Examples of success for others?
    • Will they use my accounts or their own?
    • How well do they understand my target audiences?
    • What have their past social media campaigns looked - tone of the posts, does it fit with how we want to present ourselves?
    • What are the terms? Certain number of posts per day or week or month? Do I get to choose the days/times or do they?
    • Cost based on per post or per result?
    • Plan for termination - if they have access to my accounts - plan to log in to my accounts promptly as the agreement comes to an end and change passwords/disconnect the user from the account.
    • What would be the plan - just random posting or a coordinated campaign? If coordinated, who will coordinate and what other channels will be involved (blog posts, email, digital ads, print, tv, radio, etc)j?

    Gregg Banse
    Director of Marketing & Business Development
    Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
    Vergennes, Vermont

  • 3.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 25, 2018 08:55
    Thanks so much for the speedy reply and abundant information!

    Cindy Wright
    Nonprofit marcom pro

  • 4.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 26, 2018 08:27
    ​Are you looking for someone to be an influencer, or someone to develop your social media strategy and/or content?

    Ariana Estes
    Web and Social Media Specialist
    Lutheran Family Services of Virginia
    Richmond, VA

  • 5.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 26, 2018 08:40

    ​WHOA sorry, I haven't had any caffeine yet...

    Things I would suggest including in an RFP:

    Overview - organization background, current marketing, current social media, target audiences
    Objectives - what are your goals
    Expectations - what specifically are you asking this person to develop?
    Bidder background - Ask them about themselves, why they're a good match for the project, ask them what tools they would use, basically any information you want to gather to make sure they're qualified to do this work, actually know what they're doing, and would be a good fit
    Proposal requirements - How do you want them to deliver the proposal? (Digitally? By mail?) What exactly do they need to include? This is any details you want from them like proposed timeline, milestones, measurement, their hourly rates, etc.
    Evaluation - tell your bidders how they will be evaluated

    I do NOT recommend telling them your budget - let them tell you how much their work will cost, especially if you're sending to agencies. Coming from the ad agency world, they hate when there is no actual budget. Coming from the other side of things, I want to see how much it will cost to do the project right, not how much they think they can cram into my budget. Plus, you risk them over-promising on your budget which I have seen plenty of times.

    There are probably plenty of examples of RFP's on the web that you can pull up and work off of for creating your own. The more information you can provide to the bidders, the better.

    Ariana Estes
    Web and Social Media Specialist
    Lutheran Family Services of Virginia
    Richmond, VA

  • 6.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 27, 2018 09:49
    These are great suggestions. However, I disagree with the comment about the budget. As a consultant, I spend a lot of time preparing a proposal, and I don't want to waste my time or that if the organization. Knowing a budget or even a range will let me know whether to create the proposal at all and to tailor what I offer to the org's budget. 

    Sometimes proposals ask to break down costs of various elements or offer packages at various price points, which seems to make sense to me.



    Hilary Marsh
    President and Chief Strategist, Content Company

    312-806-7854  |

    Content strategy consultant, speaker, teacher
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  • 7.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 29, 2018 11:42
    I recently included a budget range for some branding/design work and am glad that I did because two of the people I'd reached out to to submit proposals gave me the feedback that the project wasn't worth their time and we received proposals covering the full extent of the range, and one proposal went about 50% over it. This was very helpful for us in benchmarking these kinds of costs and in making the case to our leadership the value of this work and will help us budget better in the future. I think all around, everyone was pleased about the transparency.

    Courtney Calvin
    Senior Communications Officer
    Eurasia Foundation
    Washington, DC

  • 8.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 30, 2018 09:35

    As an agency, responding to RFPs can be frustrating at times. This is usually due to lack of details and no clear budget. I have seen both sides of the spectrum over the years - good and bad RFPs.

    Here are some recommendations.

    • Be clear on your budget. If you don't know what you should be spending, provide a range you are willing to spend. We have standardized pricing on many of our services and variable pricing for some things based on our level of engagement. Knowing your range ensures we are a proper fit before responding to the RFP.
    • Define your goals. Be specific in regards to what you want to get out of the project - donations, website visits, followers, registrations, etc.
    • Provide expectations and requirements - specific platforms, frequency, etc.
    • Provide details of what you have and can provide - photos, videos, graphics, text, etc.
    • In your process, define a specific timeframe for respondents to ask questions. At the end of the time period, it is nice if you sent a document with all the questions and answers to all respondents.
    • Be clear on your timeline, provide key milestones, and stick to the timeline. Have open communication with respondents. There is nothing more frustrating that responding to an RFP and never hearing back. I've had RFPs with very clear timelines that I've waited months past their "deadline" for someone to confirm if a decision was made.

    I hope this is helpful!

    Matt Koeppel

  • 9.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 31, 2018 09:30

    We gave up on the RFP process a few years back, and gave a talk about it at NTC. We aren't a creative agency, we are data consultants, tech strategists and CRM assessment experts. Nevertheless, what we find pretty consistently is that NPOs struggle in a few key areas when it comes to RFPs

    1. Defining the project with sufficient specificity
    2. Knowing/understanding the solutions that they might consider buying for the problem that they're facing
    3. Realizing which vendors provide which kinds of services, and what the scope of each vendor will really be
    4. Being reluctant to specify budgets
    5. Using the RFP process as a substitute for earlier stage advisory services

    Isaac Shalev
    Stamford CT

  • 10.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 31, 2018 12:59
    Matt, thanks for your RFP recommendations - very useful.


    Norman H. Reiss

    Blogs at Nonprofit Bridge on technology, communications & fundraising

    Helping seniors at Dorot, Radical Age Movement & Selfhelp Community Services

    Photographing nature - see my online portfolio 

  • 11.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Jan 31, 2018 09:40

    Isaac brings up a very good point, and one that our committee discussed heavily at ASAE. The RFP process is overused and broken. Organizations would be better served by talking to some firms about their needs to help craft an understandable scope, identify potential vendors, and determine budget. The lack of personal contact before hiring a vendor leads to scope creep, bad fit, and overruns.

    My recommendation is to hold off on the RFP until you have gathered information by talking to some prospective vendors. Then ask up to three who really have a good fit with you for a proposal on the defined scope and budget.


    Dori Kelner
    Managing Partner
    Sleight-of-Hand Studios
    Fairfax, VA

  • 12.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Feb 12, 2018 19:19
    Hi @Cindy Wright and all, Yes, I have extensive experience with social media proposals. This is a huge topic, but I'll offer a few things I've learned, from issuer and responder points of view.

    For issuers, this is all over the map because organizations are so different. I have yet to meet an org that likes preparing or managing RFP processes; most find the whole thing rather odious. Some have procurement departments. Some hire consultants to craft the RFP and its processes. Those are usually for larger contracts.

    For social media, start with the strategy. What do you need done, and why? Few orgs could answer @gregg banse 's excellent questions. Unless they can, most would be better served to get someone to help them craft a minimum viable strategy. Unless they have one, any money they spend on social media will be largely wasted.

    I'll echo @Hilary Marsh's comment about the budget. If you don't disclose the budget, you are broadcasting your mistrust of responders, your fear or your ignorance. Share what you can. To have a satisfactory result, you need to ground yourself in your confidence and knowledge that you'll make the best choice you can. As much specificity as possible. Don't be afraid to disclose things you don't know. Be open and honest. Don't let fear or ego get in the way of communicating openly.

    For responders. I rarely respond to RFPs these days. When I'm exploring work with an org, I lead a process to co-create the scope and definition of work. I call this the "Pre-engagement Process." I lead it and get as much feedback as the org wants to give. This whole process builds trust and our working relationship.

    If there is an RFP, I ask, within the scope of the rules, questions to clarify things. Orgs often update the RFP based on these questions. I encourage the org to invite questions from other responders, too; my ethos is to help the org get the best result, not to "win" the contract. Try to increase the degree of collaboration. Be radically honest.

    The biggest insight I have is that, after 30 years in consulting, business depends on trust. And trust is based on interaction, NOT words. Words are verbal, and they are a product of the neocortex. Trust is built by relating to the limbic and reptilian brains (I subscribe to the three-brain theory).

    I hope this helps! If you give us more detail about your situation, I could be more specific!​​​​​

    Christopher Rollyson
    Primary Contact
    CSRA Inc. | Chief Customer Office
    Chicago, IL United States

  • 13.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Feb 13, 2018 08:07
    I'm glad that I posted this question. In hindsight, it could have been about RFPs in general, establishing relationships and defining strategy as part of an overall process. All of the intel gathered here is very enlightening and can be applicable to any project that is in line for a vendor/consultant.

    As it happens, we have decided to hold off searching for outside help at this point. When/if we are looking for any service provider, though, I will come back to this thread for insight.

    Have a great week, all!

    Cindy Wright
    Nonprofit marcom pro

  • 14.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Feb 14, 2018 16:19
    @Cindy Wright, that sounds like it will save you from a ponderous process! Here's something else to try to avoid it in general. I'm assuming that your challenge is to have a process with some integrity that you can use to evaluate and choose outside expertise. Most RFP processes are industrial and have little flexibility or imagination.

    Try using an agile approach. To get results from any process, your team needs to define as best you can what your needs are. Organize these into long-term and what triggers (both friction and opportunity) are causing your team to think you need the expertise. Then take one or two of the triggers (I think of these as symptoms) and craft a challenge/hackathon to which you invite prospective members. Craft the desired deliverable with a "discovery"​ focus, and have the exercise last an evening or an afternoon. The whole point is to experience how they work, see how they think, and to get some ideas. Have them present to the room, so they have fun learning about each other's ideas, too. Have plenty of developer fuel on hand, too ;^).

    I hope this helps!

    Christopher Rollyson
    Primary Contact
    CSRA Inc.
    N/A, IL United States

  • 15.  RE: Creating RFP for social media strategy

    Posted Feb 15, 2018 17:51
    In the meantime, another member direct messaged me, asking whether the hackathon suggestion would work as contestants are giving away some of their ideas and tools and solutions. I think I appreciate the question because that was the prevailing thinking when I began in business (1980s). However, the world has changed as agile methods have been proven out across any field of human endeavor. Here's a further elaboration of my suggestion:

    It works beautifully when it's framed right. In Chicago, we have hackathons all the time, for IT/coding/websites and design, and I'll post links. I think the main point is that it is framed as:
    • An event that benefits the nonprofit.
    • A fun opportunity for providers to show their stuff and get acknowledged publicly for their contributions, and for them to learn.
    • It is grounded in solving a problem that can be solved in a day or weekend.
    So, the context is not inviting vendors to "give free solutions" to an RFP-type problem, although it can accomplish many things that an RFP might. For example, the sponsor/beneficiary (the nonprofit) can get a feel for how a firm thinks and approaches a relevant problem. They could then invite one/more contestants into a conversation later, separately.

    Chi Hack Night =>
    Nonprofit Challenge =>

    I hope this helps!

    Christopher Rollyson
    Primary Contact
    CSRA Inc.
    N/A, IL United States