Halloween is the scariest time of the year - full of ghosts and goblins, scary movies and costumes.
Do you know what is even scarier for a nonprofit leader? Saying things (in innocence perhaps) to a current or potential funder that will make them think twice about supporting your mission or program.
Here are five scary things to NEVER say to a current or potential funder:
1. "We received the check but had other needs so we decided to use it for something else."
Never use funds outside of what a funder stipulates without prior approval. Your budget is your plan of how you are going to spend the money and should be followed to the letter unless stipulated in the announcement or approved by the funder.
2. "Outcomes? No, we don't track those."
Define metrics of success, track outcomes in goals that are S.M.A.R.T. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals means you can clarify your programs, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of receiving a grant.
3. "We don't have a 501(c)(3)."
Don't waste your time applying if you don't yet have your 501(c)(3) also known as letter of determination. If you have a pending 501(c)(3), once your application is approved, it will backdate to the date of application for giving from individual donors, however, funders want to see an approved Letter of Determination in hand before distributing funds. Consider a fiscal sponsor as an alternative as well.
4. "We don't have a Board of Directors."
By law, a Board of Directors is a body of members from the public that oversees the financial and general operations of a nonprofit organization through governance. Without a Board of Directors, funders may ask the question- "who is making sure everything is running appropriately?".
5. "We don't have a dedicated accounting system for our nonprofit organization."
Funders like to give to organizations that can plan, track and organization their funds and programming. A double-entry accounting software like Quickbooks and I am sure there are others is the industry best practice for accounting for how funding was spent. It also makes it's easier for reporting. At a minimum, it should have some way of tracking incoming and outgoing general operating and program expenses.
Shavonn Richardson is Founder of Think and Ink Grant Consulting™ www.thinkandinkgrants.com. She is a grant writer, nonprofit consultant, speaker and an active member of the Grant Professionals Association.