The AMC Institute's online Request for Proposal (RFP) tool is drawing praise from associations who have used the web-based process to find an Association Management Company (AMC) to serve their specific needs.
Through the detailed RFP form, associations and other non-profit organizations are able to effortlessly solicit nearly 150 AMCs for support — either for full-service association management or for specialized association services such as meeting planning, public relations and Web site development. In addition to efficiencies, associations are seeing value in the "due diligence" of the process and in the abundance of qualified choices for an AMC.
In the case of the American Institute of Parliamentarians (AIP), there was no debate when it came time to tap into the AMC Institute's resources. After using the online RFP, AIP selected Chicago area-based The Center for Association Resources to help take their organization forward. "Using your service, we received 10 responses — four of whom we interviewed — narrowed it down to two and then selected our new management company," said AIP president Mark Schilansky. "I would absolutely recommend this service to any association leader in the country."
Several other associations are echoing these reviews, with many lauding AMC Institute's match-making skills. "We received 16 proposals, of which eight were worthy of strong consideration. One of those was selected and we are ecstatic with their performance," said Wayne Middleton of American Software Testing Qualifications Board, whose organization chose Tampa-based L-T Graye Communications.
Some association boards say the RFP process also satisfies association members through its objective structure and provides a level of due diligence. "In their leadership roles, board members see the RFP process as a best practice when it comes to making a management change. Taking the RFP process through the leading industry association adds additional peace of mind that a myriad of options were considered," said Washington, DC attorney Hugh Webster, partner, Webster, Chamberlain & Bean, representing associations and AMCs.
Members of the National Association of Graphic Product Identification Manufacturers (NAGPIM), for example, said it was easily explained to association leaders. "It was a logical method that we could substantiate to the full board with our recommendation," said Joseph O'Toole of NAGPIM, whose group picked Cleveland-based Thomas Associates to manage their organization.
The online RFP application guides users with step-by-step instructions. Applicants are asked questions that range from membership benefits to IRS classification and the number of local chapters. They also fill out details on the scope of the association's services, financial and meeting profiles and on the services needed. Additionally, associations can upload their own documents that might cover strategic or other issues to help AMCs more effectively respond. After the applicant submits the form, the RFP is posted to the members-only section of the AMC Institute's Web site.
"The goal is to make RFPs effective and easy to use for people on both sides of the process," said Sue Pine, Executive Vice President of AMC Institute. "Volunteer leaders are pressed for time. Our goal is to make it easier to match the association with the AMC so that association leaders can choose the best fit."
Some of the program's users say AMC Institute has achieved just that, making it much easier to select a professional services firm capable of providing the appropriate resources.
"I hate to think of the extra hours we would have spent if we had not found you. You saved us a lot of time and experimentation," said Brenda Adams-Weyant of the National Association of Recreation Resource Planners. The organization used the RFP process to help select REM Association Services of the Washington D.C. area.
Across the board, associations seeking an AMC welcome the ease of the process as well as the added-value of the AMC Institute Web site materials about the development of an RFP. "I feel this is the most efficient and best way to solicit for proposals," said Carole Sanderson of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, following the group's selection of Offinger Management Company of Ohio.