Writing a Perfect RFP
Giving an Association Management Company (AMC) all the information they need in a short, concise, but detailed, package along with appropriate contacts, goes a long way to insure the company looking at it will send you a proposal.
When an association management company looks at the RFP for your group, they try to estimate the amount of TIME your group will take for the body of work proposed, as well as what the transition will look like. Efficient and knowledge-based TIME is the most valuable product an AMC has. Saving your volunteer’s valuable time is the goal.
Background on the association is important. Absolutely include these things:
- Number of members and percentage of possible members in this space
- Number of Board members
- Number of Committees
- Number of Board meetings (in person and by phone) in a year
- Publications and how often they are created/distributed
(provide possible samples)
- Dues amount and how often collected
(anniversary or annually on one date)
- How much time out of office/travel will be required
- Schedule of any regular meetings, conferences and/or conventions
- Website address
- Insurance Requirements for the incoming Management Company
- Have your bylaws available (Do NOT include them in the RFP)
- The name of your database program. Is it exportable in Excel?
- How many Snail Mail projects do you send out in a year?
- Are you currently working with any 3rd party vendors? Will they stay?
The Program of Work Becomes Your “Wish List”
We advise association boards and search teams to put together a Wish List for their group. If money were no object, which tasks would you like someone else to handle? Conversely, which tasks and responsibilities do you want to remain in the hands of volunteers? Every item on the list will add to the monthly management costs. If you are shocked when you receive the proposal, take a look again at your Wish List to see if there are things you can remove from that list, or restructure to take less time.
A quick rule of thumb is the Calendar Rule. If you have a task or responsibility that absolutely positively needs to be done on a certain date it is going to cost the group more. If it has to be done on YOUR schedule then it costs; if it can be moved into the AMC schedule, i.e. around other projects, it may cost nothing additional.
A big cost in your management are meetings and meeting support. Do you need all the meetings you currently have? Would fewer, but more productive meetings, advance the association programs? If you are considering fewer meetings, put it in the RFP.
Be Ready to Be Asked for More Information
Again, an AMC tries to make the best estimate, based on experience, about the time, technology & staff resources it will take to manage your program. This is gathered from what you send and further communications. It will help if you are willing to set up times to speak with the potential AMC representative who may have additional questions for you. Companies that take the time to ask about your group are interested in your business. Set up designated board members or committee members to be available for those conversations. It will be time well spent.
Be Prepared for The Tough Questions
- Why are you changing management companies?
- Is there some aspect that you are not happy with that you would like to improve with this change?
- Will your current management company bid on the new contract?
- May a prospective AMC speak with your current Executive Director of staff?
- What is your annual budget and when was your last audit?
Allow at least 6 weeks for a company to respond to your RFP. The shorter the time from the end of the RFP collection period to the awarding & beginning of the new contract, the more likely it is you will receive responses to your RFP. •