At times, potential clients, especially nonprofits, may advertise available writing work via a call for proposals or a Request for Proposals (RFP). It means that the agency wishes for potential writers to peruse their needs, and put together a proposal of those needs, along with estimated costs. Such proposals should demonstrate several points:
- Your understanding of the project
- Your experience as it relates to the project
- An itemized list of their needs and your associated costs
Below is an example proposal for an RFP for a nonprofit housing agency. Please note the italicized hints and tips for building your RFP.
The Sample Proposal
Project: Client Name, Website Development, Content Writing, and Editing
Needs: Potential client cites a website that is not "up to par" for attracting grantors and other stakeholders. The client also asks for a more human service-oriented feel.
Solution: In communicating with potential grantors, employees, clients, and other users, the verbiage of your website is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, conveying an open and welcoming tone is easily accomplished with the "right" copy.
Who We Are: GardenWall Publications LLC is a content and copy development agency based in Lansing, Michigan. Principal writer and owner Allena Tapia earned a BA in English from Michigan State University, interning at both non-profits and magazine publishers. Following full-time editorial and marketing work with Lansing Community College and Michigan State University, Tapia launched GardenWall Publications to provide copy and content on a freelance basis. Staff includes contractual, administrative assistants, translators, and proofreaders.
This biography above was a required part of the proposal. I am careful to outline for the client that I am the main contact and writer for this project, but I do address how my business tends to work here: The client project is pitched as contract working directly with head writer Allena Tapia, with intermittent support (research, billing) from administrative staff.
Credibility/Experience: A comprehensive client list is included as Appendix 1 with this proposal. (Appendixes are a normal part of RFPs). An appendix lists national-level clientele willing to provide reference and comments on past GWP LLC deliverables. Related clientele includes non-profits like the Example Client Name and Another Example Client Name. SEO-specific experience is provided by Another Past Client Name. This client is an industry leader in SEO work and spares no expense in training writers like Tapia in the latest SEO practices, which change daily. SEO experience and continuing exposure to Google's ever-changing rules ensure that your SEO pages and costs are not money wasted.
Deliverability: (This is the nitty-gritty, very important pieces to include in your RFP.) Copy, as described in features below, is deliverable via Word documents and email within the timeframe stated (per client's RFP). Vendor guarantees deliverables and cites past client satisfaction as proof of deliverability of project.
Vendor Accessibility: Vendor website is hosted at Example Website. The vendor is reachable Monday through Friday from 8a-5p EST via phone (517) xxx-xxxx and email email@example.com.
Samples: Samples are available via online portfolio housed at Sample Website.com. Targeted samples of copy created specifically for non-profit use are included in this proposal as Appendix 2.
Here is the point of your whole exercise.
- Vendor seeks to provide print-ready copy ready to be cut and pasted in WordPress; WYSIWYG template, which is capable of handling cut and paste from Microsoft Word with little or no tweaking. The vendor stands ready to assist with final rendering issues related to this (often occurring in the form of bullets, links, etc., but easily resolved).
- Vendor seeks to provide all research and search issues related to this copy, i.e., finding appropriate links inside and outside of the client's website.
- Vendor stands ready to use house style provided and boasts years of experience in following client style sheets.
- Provision of tips and ideas for graphic/photo display with text.
- Provision of text that conveys the warm, human element that the client has specifically requested. Vendor prides itself on determining the tone, style, and voice appropriate for target audiences.
- Provision of the following pages and approximate lengths: (Notice the breakdown of the work, which shows your client exactly what to expect, and also demonstrates that you know their needs.)
- Homepage: 500 words or less
- History: 500 words or less
- Mission: 200 words or less
- About: 500 words or less
- Services: 5 pages at 500 words or less each (2500 words)
- Contributors: 5 pages at 200 words or less each (1000 words)
- Major sponsors: 5 pages at 200 words or less each (1000 words)
- Events: 1 page at 300 words or less
- Donation solicitation: 1 page at 200 words or less
- SEO specific pages: 10 pages proposed at 600 words each
Total deliverable of approximately 12K words of copy/31 pages at a cost of $X. (In-kind donations, addressed here, are an industry standard. These are basically "freebies" that you throw into the RFP to make your proposal a better value and therefore more likely to be chosen).
In-kind donations include:
- all research/link searches performed at no charge (approximately 3 hours of work/$150 in kind)
- cut and paste/WYSIWYG support (one hour, $50)
- graphic/photo suggestions (two hours, $100)
- SEO-specific pages billed at the same rate as base copy, no upcharge for SEO ($500)
- Total in-kind support of $800
Payment of $X to be awarded at initiation, with remaining payment of $X to be billed at project end.
Work consisting of 31 pages of text can be completed by December x, 2011 if initiated by October 15. Vendor restricts "edits" (client sends back copy with changes/requests) to 2 per website page.
This proposal was subsequently rewarded, and I am proud to say it was my first rewarded proposal! As you can likely tell, the information and organization of it were dictated within the nonprofit's RFP, but this is a pretty generic set of information and could be customized to fit other RFPs. Now, go get some work!