Chamber Pros Toolbox: Free RFP Template


In Chamber Pros Toolbox articles, we share valuable tools you need so you’re not forced to recreate the wheel.

This week we’re sharing a template for an RFP plus a few tips to use if you’re sending out a request for proposal.

What Is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a formal document used by a chamber of commerce (or other organization), to solicit proposals from qualified vendors for a specific service or project. It outlines the organization's needs, expectations, and evaluation criteria, allowing vendors to tailor their proposals accordingly.

Why Does a Chamber Need an RFP?

While it may seem like an undue formality, there are several reasons chamber protect themselves with a formal process.

Transparency and Fairness

An RFP ensures a fair and open bidding process, allowing multiple vendors the opportunity to compete. It clearly outlines the project requirements, preventing misunderstandings and ensuring all proposals are evaluated based on the same criteria.

It can also help the chamber avoid the appearance of unfairness as may be the case when asking one vendor over another to fulfill the chamber’s needs for service/product. If you only have one member who can deliver on a need, it’s not a big deal. If there are multiple members doing the same thing, using an RFP can make the process more transparent.

Detailed Information Gathering

An RFP helps you gather detailed information about vendors' qualifications, experience, proposed solutions, and pricing.

With an RFP you have a solid comparison of options before selecting the best fit for the project.

Cost-Effectiveness

By receiving proposals from multiple vendors, you can compare pricing and negotiate the best deal. An RFP encourages vendors to be competitive and offer their most advantageous solutions.

Reduced Risk

Telling people what you want carries with it the potential to be misconstrued or misunderstood. However, a well-defined RFP helps mitigate risks by ensuring vendors understand the project's scope and expectations. This reduces the chance of misunderstandings or delays during the project execution. Everyone gets the same information.

When Does a Chamber Need an RFP?

There are several reasons to use an RFP. Usually, you would use one when the service or product is complex or costly.

Common reasons for chambers to use an RFP include:

  • ​Developing a new website or marketing campaign
  • ​Securing event planning or catering services
  • Working with a provider for IT support or security services

Overall, using an RFP demonstrates a professional approach to project procurement, ensuring value for the chamber and its members.

Tips for Creating an RFP

If you decide to “bid” out a project or service, keep the following things in mind when creating your RFP (but if you don’t feel like creating your own—and why should you?—keep scrolling and you’ll get to the handy template and example section where we’ve done the work for you.):

Define Your Needs Clearly

Clearly outline the project's objectives, desired outcomes, and deliverables.

Identify the intended audience for the project (e.g., chamber members, local businesses, consumers).

Detail any specific needs or functionalities required by the vendor (e.g., technical specifications for software development).

Make Structure & Organization a Priority

Organize the RFP in a logical sequence, starting with an introduction and project overview, followed by detailed requirements, evaluation criteria, and timeline.

Use clear headings, subheadings, and bullet points for easy readability and navigation.

Provide Evaluation Criteria

Define the criteria you will use to evaluate proposals (e.g., experience, qualifications, proposed methodology, pricing, references, etc.). If this is hidden from vendors, the process will seem less transparent.

Assign weights to each criterion reflecting its relative importance for the project. (Is the criteria a critical one or just a “nice to have”?

Include a Timeline & Budget

Set a clear deadline for vendors to submit their proposals.

You may also want to include a budget range. While some people may discourage you from doing this because it biases the quote, it will keep a company from spending a lot of time jumping through hoops when they aren’t even in the ballpark (how’s that for mixed sporting references?).

Do’s and Don’ts When Creating an RFP for Your Chamber

  • Do keep it concise. Avoid making the RFP overly lengthy or complex. No one wants to read an RFP that looks like a government contract.
  • Don’t use confusing language. Maintain a professional tone and avoid technical jargon and acronyms that you don’t spell out. They may not work across all verticals.
  • Do encourage vendors to submit questions for clarification before submitting proposals.
  • ​​​Don’t forget to outline any confidentiality requirements for information provided to vendors.

Chamber RFP Template 

The following is an RFP template that you can add your customized details to:

Request for Proposal (RFP) - <Chamber Name and Project>

1. Introduction

The <Chamber Name> ("Chamber") is seeking proposals from qualified vendors to provide <Describe the service or project the chamber needs in general terms, e.g., "marketing and public relations services," "website development services," or "event planning and management services">. This project aims to <Describe the overall goal of the project>.

2. Project Overview

The Chamber desires a comprehensive and strategic approach to <Describe the service or project the chamber needs in more detail>. This includes <List some key aspects or deliverables of the project>.

3. Target Audience

The target audience for this project is <Describe the target audience, e.g., "Chamber members," "Local businesses," "General public," or a combination>.

4. Scope of Work

<Specific scope of work - at a minimum, the project should include>:

* A detailed outline of the proposed approach and methodology.
* A timeline for project completion, including key milestones.
* A breakdown of deliverables, including their format and frequency.
* A communication plan outlining communication channels and frequency.

5. Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria <insert percentages, if applicable>:

* Vendor experience and qualifications in providing the requested service/project.
* Understanding of the Chamber's needs and target audience.
* Creativity, innovation, and effectiveness of the proposed approach.
* Proposed timeline and cost for completing the project.
* Experience working with similar organizations.
* References from previous clients with similar projects.

6. Submission Requirements

Please submit the following information in your proposal:

<Add what you want vendors to include. Examples:>

* Company profile and relevant experience in providing the requested service/project.
* A detailed proposal outlining your approach, methodology, and timeline.
* Cost breakdown for the project, including any associated fees.
* At least three references from previous clients with similar projects.

7. Submission Deadline

Proposals must be submitted electronically to <Email Address> by <Date>. Please include "RFP - <Project Name>" in the subject line.

8. Questions

All questions regarding this RFP should be submitted in writing to <Email Address> by <Date>.

9. Selection Process

<Detail selection process/steps. Example:>

The Chamber will review all proposals received by the deadline. Shortlisted vendors may be contacted for further discussion or clarification. The Chamber reserves the right to select the vendor that best meets its needs and budget.

10. Confidentiality

All information submitted in proposals will be kept confidential by the Chamber.

11. Disclaimer

The Chamber reserves the right to reject any or all proposals and to cancel this RFP at any time.

Thank you for your interest. We look forward to receiving your proposals.

What About a Small Project?

It’s easy to understand how to create an RFP for a large project as well as the need for it. But should you ever create an RFP for a small-scale request? There are only two reasons to do this—you have very exacting requirements that you want the vendor to understand or it’s important for some reason to provide a very transparent process.

Generally, the time it takes to create a proposal is above the value you would receive by just calling three businesses for quotes.

However, for some chambers, issues in the past (aka past drama) may require you to present a very transparent bid process.

In that case, here is an example of a small RFP for promotional items.

Request for Proposal (RFP) - Promotional Products for Greater Evergreen Chamber

1. Introduction

The Greater Evergreen Chamber of Commerce ("Chamber") is seeking proposals from qualified vendors to supply and deliver promotional products for an upcoming membership drive and community event.


2. Project Overview

The Chamber plans to distribute 500 promotional products to potential and existing members at our upcoming Membership Mixer on October 5, 2024 at Super Awesome Venue.

The goal is to raise awareness of the Chamber's benefits and services, and to create a positive and lasting impression.


3. Target Audience

The target audience for these promotional products includes:

-Local business owners and professionals

-Representatives from community organizations

-Residents interested in supporting local businesses


4. Desired Product Specifications

Quantity: 500 units

Product Type: We are open to suggestions, but the product should be:

-Practical and useful for the target audience.

-Relatively lightweight and portable for easy distribution at the event.

-Customizable with the Chamber's logo and a brief message (e.g., "Join the Evergreen Advantage!").

-Creative. We want to stand out.

Budget: The Chamber has allocated a budget of $1,000 for this project.

Timeline: Proposals are due by May 30th 2024. Delivery of the promotional products is required by September 1, 2024.


5. Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

-Competitiveness of pricing within the allocated budget. (50%)

-Quality and appropriateness of the proposed product for the target audience. (20%)

-Design capabilities and ability to incorporate the Chamber's branding effectively. (15%)

-Past experience with similar projects and references from previous clients. (15%)


6. Submission Requirements

Please submit the following information in your proposal:

-Company profile and experience.

-A detailed description of the proposed product, including its features, benefits, and customization options.

-Images or mockups of the product with the Chamber's branding incorporated (if available).

-A clear breakdown of the total cost per unit, including any setup fees, customization charges, and shipping costs.

-Delivery timeline and confirmation of ability to meet the Chamber's deadline.

-At least two references from previous clients with similar projects.


7. Submission Deadline

Proposals must be submitted electronically to [Email Address] by 5/30/24. Please include "RFP - Promotional Products" in the subject line.


8. Questions

All questions regarding this RFP should be submitted in writing to [Email Address] by [Date for Questions].


9. Selection Process

The Chamber will review all proposals received by the deadline. The Chamber reserves the right to select the vendor that best meets its needs and budget.


10. Confidentiality

All information submitted in proposals will be kept confidential by the Chamber. <Probably not needed for promotional materials>.


11. Disclaimer

The Chamber reserves the right to reject any or all proposals and to cancel this RFP at any time.


Thank you for your interest. We look forward to seeing your proposals and ideas.

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