Preserve Your Zen Grant Tip: Gather Your Documents Early!

428 241 JoAnn Lawrence
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Waiting until the last minute to assemble all the documents you will need to submit with your grant proposal can throw your Zen into a tailspin! Instead, as soon as you have found a grant you would like to pursue, find the needed attachments by reading either the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) or Request for Proposal (RFP). To give you a head start, we have put together a list of documents you will likely need if the funder is a family foundation or associated with government funding:

  • IRS Determination Letter– It is imperative to have your IRS determination letter to show the funder that you are a registered 501(c)(3). Be sure that your letter has the correct name and date your organization was registered as a nonprofit with the state.
  • Audit/Most Recent Financials– Most funders will ask for one or both items. If your organization has never been audited, your most recent balance sheet and income statement may suffice. However, it is becoming more and more common for funders to mandate the submission of an audit. If your organization does not currently conduct annual audits, you may want to consider having a financial review done by a CPA.
  • Budget – Budgets are one of the most important attachments that a funder will request. You must determine if the funder is seeking an overall organizational budget, for which you can use your annual budget, or a program budget specific to the program you are applying for. If the foundation is seeking a program budget, be sure to be as detailed as possible. For example, if you are applying to your local community foundation, construct a budget based on the clients you serve within their region. Funders want to see the impact their grant will have within the community they serve.
  • Success Stories – A heartfelt success story can boost the success rate of your application if written well. Be sure to use a recent story that reflects the organization or program described in your application. If available, and if a release has been signed, include a photo of the client. To protect the confidentiality of your clients, change the name of the individual or family you are using for your success story.
  • Board List – As organizations grow and change, so does the board. Always keep an updated board list in your files. If your organization has both a board of directors and a board of trustees, separate out the two and use them as requested. Some funders request that your board list come equipped with your member’s affiliations, so it is beneficial to construct this in the beginning and update it as necessary. Include your board members’ names, phone numbers, emails, and current or previous employers.

The items listed above are “no-brainer” attachments needed for virtually any grant your organization will apply for. If you plan to seek government funding, keep in mind that the following documentation may be requested:

  1. Certificate of Good Standing
  2. Letters of Support
  3. Diversity Policy
  4. Strategic Plan
  5. Bios of Key Staff
  6. Tax Returns
  7. Board Resolutions
  8. Budget Narrative
  9. Annual Report
  10. Printed or Recorded Media Coverage

By Teresa Stohs, CFRE, Director of Grants Services at Soukup Strategic Solutions

 

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