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Knowledge Base

What is an RFP?

RFP is an acronym for Request for Proposal. It refers to a document which an organization, agency, or business posts to obtain applications or pitches for potential projects. RFPs are a great way to fund new and special projects for nonprofits. However, they cannot be counted on for regular or operational support.

Government RFPs

RFPs are often associated with government funding. The government will put out a RFP for a project such as building a highway. The request will contain a detailed description of exactly what the government expects for the project such as the timeline, budget, specifications, requirements, and documents which need to be filled out prior to submission. If the project requires more than one person to do the work, then each individual's exact role will be defined as well. 

Foundation RFPs

RFPs are put out by foundations to provide exciting opportunities to fulfill the funders’ missions or for things such as introducing new initiatives. A remarkable example of that would be the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change initiative. RFPs can have strict deadlines or occur on a rolling basis. The Greater Washington Community Foundation accepts RFPs in three cycles yearly – Summer, Fall, and Winter.

RFP Bulletin - Philanthropy News Digest 

For examples of recent RFPs arranged by subject area, you might refer to the RFP Bulletin in the Philanthropy News Digest. The most recently posted RFPs can be found down the middle of the page (organized by category). Other currently active RFPs can be found organized by category. To access these RFPs, use the subject listing located on the right-hand side of the screen.

Listings in the RFP Bulletin provide:

  • the date posted
  • the deadline for applications
  • links to relevant organizations 
  • a link to the full RFP (usually residing on the funder's Web site).

You can search the RFP Bulletin by keyword and also subscribe to a free e-mail version sent to your inbox once a week.

RFPs are also posted on the bulletin boards of Foundation Center Libraries.

Beyond RFPs

Keep in mind that RFPs only represent a small fraction of funding opportunities which are available to nonprofits. To learn about other potential funding prospects for your nonprofit, read the following knowledge base articles:

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