There are a number of basic items you will want to have on hand for all your fundraising and development projects. You should keep these items electronically or in files, depending on the source. Once they are set up, it is easy to keep them updated, and regular grant deadlines won’t take as much work to complete.

Paper files:

  • Copies of your IRS letter declaring your 501(c)3 status. If your copy is more than ten years old, you should ask the IRS to reissue the letter. Never send your original.
  • Copies of newspaper articles on your programs or events. Organize these files chronologically by event. It is worth spending a little extra time with a copy machine, scissors, and some white-out to make nice looking copies. Try to fit the whole article on a page and hide column breaks. Be sure to include the newspaper name and date on the page either typed or from the paper (not handwritten). This is a great job for a detail-oriented volunteer.
  • Left over copies of your printed materials developed for your programs. Organize these files chronologically by event. (Be sure to save at least three originals in your archive file for the program.)
  • Bound copies of your organizations audit (if applicable).
  • Nice copies of handwritten letters from kids or teachers.

Electronic files:

  • Your mission statement
  • A short history of the organization (two versions: a one page, and a three-page version with bullets delineating major accomplishments and achievements).
  • Your current board of directors list, including officers and ex-officio members. This is best kept in a spreadsheet with each person\’s name, contact information, and occupation. That way you can provide just the information requested by the funder.
  • A list of your programs. This is best kept in a spreadsheet and should include the date, name of the event, location of the event, type of event (i.e., exhibition, performance, teacher in-service, lecture, educational outreach), a brief description of the event, the number of audience members or participants, and possibly the characteristics of the audience (i.e., elderly, 2nd graders, title one school children, vision impaired, etc). You can then use the information in the spreadsheet to help you make particular cases (i.e., we do extensive outreach to the elderly in our area) or to generally demonstrate your capability and track record.
  • Select quotes from evaluation, letters, and other sources. These are best when attributed, but can be “from a 5th grade student from Jones Elementary, Smithville ISD.” Be sure to put the quotes in context (i.e., quotes from teachers at the June 12, 2004, in-service on integrating art & science). A couple of pages of these can make your case better than you ever could.
  • A spreadsheet of schools, and school districts served (with specific participants and event dates).
  • A spreadsheet of other non-profit educational, civic, or community organizations with whom you have done collaborative programming. Again, you will want to include dates, the program or event name, and a brief description of how you worked together. You can use this to demonstrate how you work within the community.
  • Your case statement for the reason why your organization exists and is important to your community. Be sure to include as many statistics as you can about the specific audiences you serve. This would be part of your general organizational fundraising proposals.
  • Your case statement for any program you plan on fundraising for. Be sure to include as many statistics as you can about the specific goal you plan on reaching and how, as well as any past track record in serving this group or similar group.
  • Your organizations budget and one copy of your most recent 990 (never send a copy of a 990 unless requested).
  • A spreadsheet where you list major gifts only (if you don\’t already have this ability with your fundraising tracking system).
  • A spreadsheet where you list pledges and donation by project (if you don\’t already have this ability with your fundraising tracking system). You can create a list of donors with amounts for the specific program you are raising funds for.
  • Sample budgets for types of projects (at least keep a list of the main categories). Most funders don’t want to see every paper clip included in the budget, but do want to see some breakdown on fees to artists, rental fees, staff costs, etc.
  • A spreadsheet of your current and past board members and major individual supporters with contact information, occupation/employer, name of spouse/partner, term, and a note field to describe current relationship, introductions made, etc. This is a tool you can use in the Foundation Library to help you figure out where you may be able to make a connection. Foundation Directories list the trustees of each foundation in an alphabetical index. You may find some of your board member and their spouses sit on these boards