Getting Your Ducks in a Row Before the Deadline

Grant professionals know there are common attachments required for most grant applications that are usually readily available. But sometimes, funders want documents that aren't as easy to find or need to fit certain specifications. How can you be prepared to have all the docs you need ready before it's time to hit the submit button or mail the hard copy proposal? Read on for some tips that might help you prepare.

The Standards
Board list: have a board list with affiliations, term dates, and contact information. Get this as a Word or Excel file so you can alter it to meet funder specifications.
IRS Form 990: a good rule of thumb is to have at least the most recent two years available.
Audits: like the Form 990, have at least the two most recent financial audits or financial reviews ready to go.
Budgets: it's standard to supply a program/project budget and an organizational budget for any request. Take the time to make these “line item” budgets pleasing to the eye, with brief explanations of income and expenses. Developing a sound, easy-to-read budget goes a long way in making a funder happy!
501c3 letter: it seems funny to list, but more than one client of mine has scrambled to find this. I've run into a few funders who require that the letter is no more than five or ten years old. If yours is old, say from 1995 or earlier, consider contacting the IRS to request a new one. It just takes a quick phone call, and you should have a letter with a current date within 15 business days.
Sometimes Required
Letters of support:
  • Collaboration letter or MOU – if your project involves collaboration, ask collaborators to provide a MOU or letter of support as early as possible. Be sure it hits the highlights of your program/project, describes the collaborator's role, and is signed by the collaborator.
  • School partnerships – like collaboration, if you're working with a school (public or private), ask for a letter of support from the principal, school administrator, or other official.
  • Other – ask a client, city official, or volunteer to write a letter of support for your agency.
Resumes: you don't need to wait to work on an application to have this file stocked. Ask for resumes of all key personnel and board officers. You may not need to send them as attachments, but you might need to provide staff qualifications or biographies and resumes should provide the information you'll need to craft those. Make sure they are up-to-date—you don't want to submit Mary Manager's five-year-old resume that doesn't include your agency on it!
Annual report: More and more, funders ask to see a nonprofit's annual report. If your agency doesn't produce one, consider creating a two-page PDF that includes basic financials, a few photos with client success stories, and a list of accomplishments.
Less commonly requested
Development/fundraising plan
Strategic plan
Articles of Incorporation
Organizational policies such as: Conflict of Interest, Whistleblower, Equal Opportunity/Non-Discrimination
Organizational flowchart: this should be easy to understand. No one will want to look at an organization chart sporting a 4-point font that doesn't clearly show departmental relationships.
Finally, I offer these two tips that have helped me provide needed attachments quickly:
Keep two files: digital and hard copy. Keep the digital documents small – many online applications have file size limits – but high quality.
Develop a checklist: read the guidelines and build a checklist for all necessary attachments. I usually do this in Excel and include columns like “Contact” and “Status” so I can sort it and see exactly what's available or still needed.
Do you have any tips or lists of "unanticipated" attachments to share?

Lisa M. Sihvonen-Binder holds a Master of Science degree in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy with Graduate Fundraising Management Certificate and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing with a Communications minor. Since 2008 she has been a grants consultant and has raised over $7M for her clients from private and corporate foundations, and local, state, and federal funding sources. In addition to her consulting practice, she teaches the 8-week, graduate-level online course, Grant Writing for Corporate and Private Foundations, for Bay Path University and edits books for CharityChannel Press on nonprofit management and fundraising. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and three rescue dogs.?

GPC Competency: 07-Professionalism



By: Linda
On: 09/12/2017 15:23:12
One that has caught me off guard more than once lately - photos. Particularly with online applications, I increasingly need to upload photos and find myself scrambling to either locate or take them.

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