Education Proposal Guide 2024: How to Win Education Industry RFPs
Do you feel like you’re at the back of the class when writing an A+ education industry RFP (aka Request for Proposals) bid? We don’t blame you. It’s easy to feel like an out-of-town student lost on a giant college campus. The opportunities seem limitless, with many organizations issuing federal grants and education proposals. Luckily, the procurement experts at The Bid Lab put our heads together to give you a cheat sheet. So, ready for Education Proposals 101? If so, then take a seat. We’ll review everything you need to know to write a proposal for education. With our help, you, too, can learn a few tips about winning an education industry RFP bid.
Welcome to Education RFP 101
To meet the massive demand for supplies and services in the education industry, organizations will issue bids, grant proposals, or Requests for Proposals (RFPs). RFPs are formal documents that outline the requirements of a project. Solicitors invite interested vendors to write and submit a response to their education or grant proposal for education services. The response that best matches the needs and requirements of the proposal will win.
Writing a grant proposal or RFP for education services isn’t easy. Drafting, writing, designing, and turning in a proposal document is a gauntlet. In the past, larger organizations with a war chest of resources hogged the procurement market (including, of course, proposals in the education sector). But in the last five years, the US federal government created incentives for small businesses to submit bids. So, yes, the process may seem overwhelming. However, we promise there has never been a better time to jump into education RFPs.
Proposals in Education: Class is in Session
Here’s a pop quiz question: What products and services can you provide that will fill a niche in the education sector?
The answer, of course, depends on the business. However, you might be surprised to learn how well your business might succeed in the education industry if you aren’t providing “traditional” educational services.
Educational tech products and services, for example, are the scholastic demand of the decade. The popularity of remote and virtual learning means that education-related RFPs might need specific hardware. Schools of all sorts need basic network infrastructure. From academic learning management systems to custom software services, this niche market makes the grade.
Other in-demand education fields include professional development and curriculum management services. Now, if you’re eager to teach the teachers, we especially recommend professional development services. Educational institutions will pay top dollar for professional training on new technologies. Top educators often want to improve their skills by learning new teaching methodologies.
So, if you know what niche you’d like to corner, you’re ready to start searching. We recommend taking a look at Sam.gov, the federal government procurement site. If you’re hoping to find and filter your search with plenty of bells and whistles, however, then we recommend using our own service, Bid Banana. We might be a little biased, but we think our user-friendly RFP search engine is the top banana in the bidding industry.
No matter how you decide to find and search for your education RFP opportunities, we’re rooting for you!
Learning Today to Prepare for Tomorrow
Now that you know how to find a bid in your niche, you’ll need to learn how to win. So, how does your business want to write a winning education proposal response? Well, you’ll have to play by the rules. Education RFPs come in different sizes and packages. No matter the opportunity and the organization, you’ll need to devote some significant prep time to your approach.
By submitting a proposal response, you’ll be competing for a service contract alongside many others. Education procurements are popular, and thus, competition is usually fierce. You’ll need to bring your A-game to the table to stand a chance. After all, what’s the point of devoting hours of research, drafting, writing, and preparing a proposal if the final draft ends up a sloppy mess?
So, make sure the opportunity has an attainable due date. Then, organize your original documents of solicitation. This will help you develop a target timeline that will take your response from start to finish. By sticking to milestone deadlines, you can plot your path to submission.
Earn Your Certifications in Education Proposals
Many large organizations have their own full-time teams working to find and respond to bids from larger industries. It’s an entire cottage industry. Luckily, federal and government bids often build incentives for small businesses into their scoring process. So, we first recommend taking advantage of the most common incentives. One easy way to do that is to see if your business or organization is eligible to get certified with certifications.
While those certifications are underway, you’ll need to line up references. Most RFPs require information about a certain number of references and past projects. Look over the technical information ahead of time! There’s no time like now to start reaching out to partners and contacts. They can help brand your business with over-the-moon testimonials that will impress the socks off of any evaluation committee, so it’s important to get those references squared away!
Time for a Rough Draft
Finally, it’s time to start preparing a rough draft.
Before you start to write education proposals, it’s important to note that education RFPs often have specific compliance requirements. You’ll need to account for educational rules and regulations that aren’t present in other procurements. So, now it’s time to examine the RFP for language and technical requirements. Do not start writing until you’ve thoroughly read these requirements!
If you need tips on how to start writing an RFP, review articles from The Bid Lab’s Learning Center. Try articles like RFP Proposal Writer: How to Write Like an RFP Expert.
Now, if writing a response to an education RFP seems too daunting, there is still hope. There are many benefits to outsourcing a response. Plenty of consultant companies and technical writing firms specialize in reading, reviewing, and writing proposal responses. While a few of these services might specialize in a particular industry, others are industry-agnostic. These services have procurement writers, researchers, editors, and project managers experienced enough to be familiar with almost every industry.
No matter how you decide to tackle the education RFP response, you need to take your time with your rough draft. Building proposal responses is a lot of work. You won’t want to burn yourself out before you can submit a fully fleshed-out bid.
Need examples or real-world accounts about the RFP writing process? Check out our Case Study page. There, you’ll find detailed narratives about how The Bid Lab helped real clients through every stage of the procurement process. Looking for specific examples within the education industry? From transcription specialists to school-based pediatrics, we’ll show you how we managed our happy clients in the education sector.
So, you’ve chosen an education RFP opportunity to pursue. You’ve researched the company asking for the proposal. After you’ve gathered your references and certifications, you studied the requirements outlined in the RFP. Finally, you’ve made your rough draft.
Now, it’s time to edit your content and design your document.
Researchers and writers are too close to the documents they create to be impartial. To submit the best possible response, you’ll need to factor in editing time. So, put the document down, and do not review it. No peeking, no second-guessing your work. Hide the document from yourself for at least seven days. Once you’re fresh, it’s time to reread your work. You’ll be astonished how many little typos, unaddressed responses, and rough patches will jump out at you.
No time to “get away” from the document? Well, consider hiring a technical editor. You’ll be glad you did.
Designing a document layout, complete with branding and glossy imagery, is another matter altogether. You’ll need to know the ins and outs of managing digital assets. You can use what you have to make your document look amazing. We have a few tips to help your education RFP layout exactly right.
Once you turn in your document, you can take a break. You’ve earned it. And, hopefully, you’ve learned RFP tips and tricks from the bid proposal mistakes you’ve made along the way. The truth is, once you’ve submitted your first full education RFP response, you’ve already won. Why? Easy.
Because now you have a great template for your next education proposal opportunity.
You Don’t Have to Go Through It Alone
Whether you’re learning how to write a grant proposal for education industry opportunities or you’re finishing your next big education proposal response, The Bid Lab can help. So, check out other RFP industry tips in the healthcare and legal sectors. Then, reach out to schedule a free consultation with us today by calling 1-844-4BIDLAB or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.