Finally, a dream a decade in the making is coming to fruition! Though I am sure he doesn’t recall it at all, in a post back in 2010 I had suggested that Drew McManus’ Venture Industries develop a platform upon which non-profit arts organizations could solicit competitive bids for goods and services.
In the past week, Drew has announced just such a service. Starting in mid-March he will be rolling out Non-Profit Bids, a site that will connect vendors with non-profits circulating requests for proposals (RFP) to provide goods and services. Right now he is looking for organizations to submit their RFPs and for providers to add themselves to a list of companies & individuals with available goods and services.
When I wrote my original post, I was working for a state university which required everyone to use their online RFP system to solicit goods costing over a certain dollar amount. We would often use it for goods that fell below that threshold because there could be significant price differences for the same goods. Even if the price differences are relatively small, soliciting bids online saved a lot of staff time that might have been spent calling or emailing around for competitive bids.
Now as a state institution, we had to go with the lowest bidder or submit a very detailed rationale why we didn’t. You wouldn’t necessarily be tied to accepting the lowest bidder with Non-Profit Bids
On the other hand, we had the buying power of a national consortium of universities behind us to make sure vendors delivered on their promises.
Regardless of how strictly you must adhere to purchasing guidelines, my advice on any RFP you submit is to be as detailed as possible. Do not assume features that are important to you will be included just because the private consumer version with which you are familiar has that feature. If something is mandatory, state that. If there is flexibility or the example you are using is just for general reference, state that as well.
My hope is that Non-Profit bids will really catch on and become perceived as worthwhile to an increasing number of organizations and vendors. Since I wrote the entry 10 years ago, it has become increasingly possible for people to offer services at significantly greater distances so the potential to secure high quality services suitable to your organization and its budget is so much greater.