Advocacy Website RFP: What Questions Should I Ask?

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)

Two women looking at a laptop on a table advocacy website RFP

An Advocacy Website RFP Can Help You Build A Winning Website

This is often the time of year when folks think about updating or building a new advocacy website. You may have a had the same website for years now, the look is stale, the platform is old, integrations are bad, and your site is not achieving the goals you would like it to. If your team is thinking it is time to update or redo your website but is unsure where to start, this is the resource for you. Before you send out an advocacy website RFP or just rehire the folks who built the last one, review these questions to ask and points to address as you plan for your new website and send out your advocacy website RFP.

Do you need a formal RFP process? Some organizations have a policy that you have to have an RFP while others do not. Think through your process before you do a formal RFP. Make sure at minimum you have internal, cross-department conversations and have written goals for what a successful website will look like.    

What is budget range for your build? Do not send out an advocacy website RFP and ask the vendors to provide a price. You know what you can and cannot afford. Do not kick the can down the road. Specify a budget range even if you have a big budget. 

Do you need an entire site or update? Are you building a completely new site or a just updating an old site? Understanding that a good update may still cost a lot of money is important. Also understand strategically why you are choosing one or the other is important.

What is the timing for site build or update? Be clear in your advocacy website RFP when you need this built by. How much time with the firm really have? Make sure they tell you how long the site build is estimated to take, from start to finish, including migration and integrations.

Will the firm need to create any content? Do you have the right content and enough content to launch your site? Make sure you think through this at the planning stage before you send out your advocacy website RFP so you can get a real cost for what you need.

Do you have a customer relationship management system (CRM)? Backend databases are not all the same, and your organization may have a few of them. Is there integration for a CRM or other integrations that needs to be built in (fundraising, advocacy tools etc.)? This can cost more time and money and be limited by the platform you choose so plan this out ahead of time. 
What are goals for website fundraising, advocacy signups, etc.? Depending on your goals, the website will need to be built differently. Clear goals in your advocacy website RFP will bring in better proposals. The more you can specify your goals, the more customized the proposals will be.

Do you know your site metrics? You should share site metrics and expectations and goals for future metrics such as site visitors, signups, page views, etc. By doing this, the firm can understand your goals, what your current organic reach is, and what the level of difficulty is to meet your site expectations. 

How many pages is current site? How many will you migrate? A big part of this project will be curating and migrating pages. If that is unclear or not stated in your advocacy website RFP, then you won’t have as deep of an understanding of which firm is the best fit. 

What are your content management system (CMS) options? Are you open to other options beyond what you have? WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla all have user-friendly features to share content/  

Are you trying to bump you search engine optimization (SEO) efforts? Search engine optimization is something you should proactively think about often. Oftentimes, organizations and firms don’t think about it and have to make adjustments after a website build or update.

Are you improving accessibility? Make sure accessibility is not an afterthought for your website. From font choice to screen readers, accessibility is an important part of your site build and not something that can be put off or avoided. Be sure to outline the importance of accessibility in your RFP.

What languages will your site be in? Make sure you site is bilingual. A bilingual site opens up your organization to more people and more engagement. It is a smart long-term investment.

What is the deadline and process for your advocacy website RFP? Be clear when you need proposals back. Set a realistic timeline of when you will make a decision and stick to it. 

Are you asking for references? Ask for 3 references of nonprofits that they have done similar work for in the last few years.

Are you asking for examples of work at the same price point? Make sure you get folks to share recent websites in the same budget range. There’s no point in looking at work that is way beyond your price point or from a long time ago. 

How many pages do the proposals need to be? Don’t fall victim to a massive proposal that takes time and resources to sort through. Ask all respondents to limit their proposals to four pages or less. 

What is the process for communication on the RFP? There will always be questions. Good firms will ask them. Have a process for answering and sharing any advocacy website RFP questions. 

Having a solid website is important for every advocacy organization and plays a role in your greater advocacy strategy. Make sure you take the right steps to create a clear advocacy website RFP.