All of us at Reach Our Goals have been working in and around non-profits for decades. One thing we have come to value in working with advocacy groups, service organizations, faith communities, and others is the primacy placed on relationships. Here are some ways this informs our approach to this work:
The “Good Fit” Approach
When we engage with clients it is after a process of information gathering and sharing. This process can take an hour or weeks – it varies widely. The purpose is the same in all cases: to establish if we are a good fit.
There are times where we may have what you need or want, but it just doesn’t seem our approach will fit your organization’s structure, power dynamics or culture. In some cases we may decline to submit a proposal. In these rare cases, we will be honest and transparent about our concerns so you will not be left wondering why. If a potential client feels we are not a good fit, we hope they will be open and let us know. Understanding opportunities we are not a good fit for is just as important as understanding what we fit.
In moving forward to the proposal stage, the Reach Our Goals team and the client both feel that the services match the need and our organizations are a good fit for each other.
The Proposal Process
So where do I submit my Request for Proposal (RFP)? At Reach Our Goals we do not participate in multi-party bids. This is for two reasons. Primarily, we are a relationship-based agency. We work with those who want to work with us. Our unique qualifications and holistic approach to practical challenges mean we are able to work with groups whom we can serve and share our relationship-based approach to organizational excellence.
Secondly, the bidding process drives up costs for all of our clients. We strive to exceed expectations in delivering solutions at a cost that is affordable to most small- to mid-size organizations. When we divert staff time to exploratory work, interviews, and proposal development for opportunities that fall through, the cost of that work is absorbed by our clients. Whenever we feel we might not be a good fit, or we can agree with a prospect that there is less than a 50% chance of working together, we simply agree to part ways. To keep costs affordable to our clients and remain true to our relationship-based model of service, we are unable to respond to RFP’s.
The benefit to this approach is that when a potential client receives a proposal, it shows a good understanding of the challenges ahead, a course of action that is appropriate to address those challenges, and a time and cost estimate that is in line with expectations. When you receive a proposal there will be no surprises as it is drawn out of our conversations and our mutual exploration process.
Our engagement agreements are less about legal processes and arbitration and more focused on how we will manage a conflict should it arise. We have never used any of the conflict resolution clauses in any of our contracts. That said, they are very clear about the relationship-based, covenantal approach to resolving any disagreements that arise before mediation, arbitration or legal action. This is based on our relationship-based model of client engagement.