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15 Documents Every Nonprofit Needs to Have on Hand

When applying for grant funding, time is of the essence. In fact, it might be the most important thing you can do to ensure a successful application. But gathering all of the required financial and organization attachments, can be a tedious and time-consuming process, especially if you don’t routinely update these documents and have a good document storage process.

To speed up your response time, we have developed a list of 15 documents you should have on hand, and how frequently you should update them.

Update As Needed

1. IRS determination Letter: This letter comes directly from the IRS and is proof that your organization is exempt from federal taxes and that donations are tax-deductible.

2. Charitable Solicitation Certificate: This letter comes from your state of incorporation and is proof that you can ask for and accept tax-deductible donations.

3. Strategic Plan: a 3-5-year outlook of your nonprofit’s priorities, goals, and anticipated outcomes. Make it SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented) by adding major activities and a timeline.

4. Key Staff Bios: Include a 3-4 sentence summary of key staff education, years of experience, special awards, and history working with the target population. Key staff are project/program leaders, managers, and relevant members of the executive team.

Update Quarterly

5. Current Budget vs Actuals: Compares your organization’s expected revenues and planned expenses to what you have earned and spent up to a specific date.

6. Profit and Loss Statement: Summarizes the revenues, costs and expenses incurred during a specific period of time.

7. Balance Sheet: A financial statement that provides a snapshot of what a company owns (assets), owes (liabilities), and the amount invested by shareholders (shareholders' equity) at a specific point in time.

8. Testimonials: Letters of support and success stories from your program participants.

Update Annually

9. Annual Reports: A snapshot of your organization’s services, accomplishments, priorities, and financials. Usually cover 12 months.

10. Board Directors with Affiliations: This document lists the names, contact information, year of service, term, and employment of the members on your board of directors.

11. Audited Financial Statements : Typically nonprofits with budgets over $250,000 in revenue benefit most from an Audit. Financial Audits are typically completed by an accounting agency that does not complete your annual tax return. This agency will review your accounts, receipts, financial processes, and tax return. Their goal is to highlight what is working well and areas of improvement is your accounting systems. Many grantmakers request a financial audit.

12. Most Recent 990: This is the required tax return for nonprofits with $200K and over in gross receipts. Organizations making less can file a 990EZ.

13. Current Year Operating Budget: An estimate of your organization expected revenues and planned expenses

14. Prior Budget vs Actuals: Compares last year’s operating budget to what you earned and spent during that year.

15. W-9: This form is used by the funder to verify your correct Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

Let us know if this was helpful!

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