You Must Prove Organizational Capacity To The Feds

Government aid to nonprofits still exists, but obtaining a grant by taking a seat-of-the-pants approach is a surefire path to rejection.

During the recent Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Fundraising Conference, Cathy D. Cessna of Ingleside Homes and Charles B. Vincent of Innovincent offered a look at obtaining large government grants. The first step is proving organizational capacity.

They said that proving organizational capacity means substantiating the following:

* 501(c)(3) Status. This should be the first document obtained by a nonprofit organization.
* DUNS Number. This can be obtained online easily for free and usually takes about a week.
* Certificate of incorporation. This is sometimes referred to as Articles of Incorporation or the Corporate Charter.
* Bylaws. Typically, these are required before a nonprofit can be formed.
* Board of Trustees.
* Certified audit. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) also require an audit.
* Form 990/990T.
* Strategic Business Plan, including a comprehensive past and future fundraising plan, detailed strategic marketing plan, current year budget and cash flow sheets, two-year budget forecast operating plan and key staff credentials and job description.

Having a central depository where electronic copies of these documents are stored is ideal for easy access. Nearly all funders have moved to an online/electronic submission process.