Sometimes, to do things right for your nonprofit, you just need something to get started.
There are so many items you must fill out, create, write, or pull together when working in a nonprofit setting. It's always helpful to have a starting point. That's the idea behind some of this site's most popular content.
Here are the most popular of our sample letters, charts, and grant proposal ideas. Plus, we've included some how-tos for those complex guides and publications.
What's the best way to get ready to write your mission statement? Read the missions of other great nonprofits. Today's mission statements are very different than they were even a few years ago.
Charities now realize that a mission statement is not just for insiders and funders, but are great branding tools as well. Many charities put them on their websites, develop fundraising materials around them, and create taglines to complement them.
Check out these examples of terrific mission statements and then read about how to write them too. Here are the dos and don'ts.
Could there be anything more tightly connected to fundraising success than the letters you send every year?
But sometimes you just run out of ideas. So, here is a collection of direct mail letters plus six tips that just might get you moving again.
There is no template for the perfect fundraising letter, but these examples could set your creativity on fire.
Your donor would love one of these thank you letters. That's because they treat donors like heroes and let them know just what their donation will accomplish.
For more technical issues, such as when to send your letter, how to organize it, and what parts you just have to get right, see 10 Tips for Writing Donor Thank You Letters.
Are you sending enough hand-written notes? There's nothing quite like them for letting a donor know you cared enough to take the time for a personal note. Learn when to send a handwritten note and how to do it.
How do you thank a donor who donates online? Start with a heartfelt message by email. Send more than just a receipt, though. Never let a thank you go to waste!
Not sure when to send what? Check out Should You Thank a Donor by Email or Snail Mail?
Don't underestimate social media thank yous. They are easy to post, and, for your tech-savvy donors, they are perfect.
No matter how you thank an online donor, don't forget to thank them with a post-donation thank you page. Light up a donor's life immediately after giving.
Postcards are sweet, a reminder of a simpler past, perhaps. That's why saying thank you via postcards is back in style.
Postcards have all sorts of applications these days. We see annual reports on postcards, invitations to events on postcards, and also thank you notes.
Have you tried sending a postcard by mail to a treasured donor or volunteer? It's easy to create a postcard right online and send it for a nominal fee.
The business plan can be used throughout the life of a nonprofit, changing as the organization does. A startup's business plan may be quite brief, while a mature nonprofit plan may be quite long.
Business plan formats for nonprofits vary according to the type of organization, but several elements seem to show up frequently. Check out the nine features you should include.
A gift range chart is a simple planning tool you can use for any fundraising campaign.
Gift charts are based on the fact that most of your donations will come from a small number of donors. It's often called the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your fundraising campaign results come from twenty percent of your donors.
The gift chart helps you figure out how many donors, large and small, to target for any fundraising goal. You can use standardized calculators to do the numbers for you.
Does a press release seem old-fashioned? They are still quite useful and have adapted to the digital world. You may post one online for everyone to see on your website or email it to the news media.
But, besides delivery methods, the nuts and bolts of press releases haven't changed much. Sure, they might have links now, but they still need to be easy to read and follow a predictable format.
Nonprofit organizations do need to be careful about who is volunteering for them. An adequate and easy to access volunteer application form is essential.
Be sure to check out how to write a volunteer job description too. The more specific you can be, the better.
Do you have volunteers? If so, then you need a volunteer handbook.
A volunteer handbook will save you countless hours of training and repeated instructions because it is a one-stop resource for all the wonderful people who help you keep going.
There are dozens of ways to put together a volunteer handbook, but we've laid out the things you should cover and many tips for creating one.
Many foundations now prefer that nonprofits send a letter of inquiry (LOI) rather than a full proposal when first asking for grant money.
An LOI will save both you and the foundation time. You won't have to put in as much work just to get turned down. The foundation can quickly screen many more letters than full proposals.
Not sure just what kind of proposal you should send and to whom? Don't miss 3 Types of Grant Proposals: Which One Should You Write?
When asking for a donation, a gift-in-kind, sponsorship, or services from a corporation, it is best to use a letter format.
Companies typically prefer a short letter, spelling out precisely what you need, rather than a more formal proposal such as you would provide to a foundation.
Results. They are on everyone's minds, especially foundations and other funders. Evaluating what worked and what didn't can be crucial for your funding and your project. Here's how to write the evaluation section of your grant proposal.
It's hard to say what part of a proposal is most important. But, the needs statement is right up there. Here you will explain what you need from your funder and why. Write it persuasively and with care.
Perhaps the best way to understand a needs statement is to look at a successful one.
No funders like to think that their grant will only fund a project for a short time. That's why you need to give careful attention to the sustainability section.
Before investing in your project, your funder will want to know your plans for carrying the project into the future. What other funds can you get? How will you support the project long term? With whom will you collaborate?
A well-written summary invites the reader of your grant proposal to read on, and delivers, succinctly, the basics of what you are asking for.
Your summary can turn a reviewer on or away. So, just because it may be the last section you write, take a deep breath, and write as though your project depends on it because it does.
So you have your proposal all planned out, but just how will you accomplish your goals? Use the methods section of your project to lay out precisely how you'll do it all. Attach your methods to each of your objectives.
There are numerous ways to format those methods. Here are a few possibilities.
A cover letter for your grant proposal may or may not be required by your funder. If it is, make it count. Think of your cover letter as a mini-proposal or the inviting doorway to your full proposal. Cover letters are hard because they have to contain so much in a short space. Use this example and tips to make yours perfect.
The Nuts and Bolts of Writing a Nonprofit Annual Report
We all know that corporations send out annual reports to their shareholders. Well, nonprofits, although not legally required to do so, should write annual reports too, for the sake of their donors and other supporters.
Here's a checklist of the things you should include in that annual report and tips on how to prepare one.
Annual reports have also changed a lot. They used to be printed, but now they are just as often digital.