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15 Documents Every Nonprofit Needs to Have on Hand

Updated: Aug 28


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. https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/eo-operational-requirements-obtaining-copies-of-exemption-determination-letter-from-irs

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. https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/charitable-solicitation-state-requirements

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

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. https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/form-990-series-which-forms-do-exempt-organizations-file-filing-phase-in

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). https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-w-9


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