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How to keep good fundraising files

Have you ever missed a funding deadline because you couldn’t produce the supporting documents required? Is collating the information you need putting you off even thinking about applying for funding? Maybe you have lots of spreadsheets or important documents saved somewhere on old or multiple computers? If so you are not alone and this post is for you. 

1

Understand why it's important

Many small nonprofits manage their money in a haphazard way. This can have a negative impact. Poor filing systems, single-person access and just letting it all slide can all leave you vulnerable and limit your funding potential. You can’t submit an urgent funding bid if you can’t get the figures together or there are holes in your documentation.

Keeping good fundraising files can increase your chances of fundraising success and help you to clearly communicate with funders. Simply, keeping good files is key to securing the future of your organisation. 

2

Create a fundraising folder

The person who has lead responsibility for fundraising in your organisation should create a fundraising folder. This will contain everything you need to complete funding applications including copies of essential supporting documents.

Having the folder will:

  • help you to complete funding applications more efficiently
  • provide committee members with easy access to key fundraising information
  • enable another person to smoothly take over fundraising responsibilities.

There are eight essential documents which should be included in your fundraising file. Organisations find it useful to have printed copies of these all in one folder, clearly labelled. Others store the documents electronically all in one place. Many do both. 

3

Add your organisation’s governing document

Your governing document will be able to help you answer popular funder questions.

Funders will need to know:

  • how your organisation is managed
  • what your organisation’s aims and objectives are.

Your governing document will detail your organisation’s:

  • rules
  • aims
  • objectives
  • date of formation.

It is common practise for funders to request a signed copy of your governing document to accompany a funding application. This should be signed by the Chair person.

4

Add details of your committee members

Your fundraising folder should contain a handy list of your committee member’s details. The list should include:

  • their full name
  • role
  • address
  • phone number
  • email
  • date of birth.

You should also indicate who has authority to sign cheques.

Why is this information needed?

Many funders want this information to show that official procedures are being followed. The Big Lottery application form asks for your committee member’s addresses and date of birth as part of their fraud prevention. Some funders such as Children In Need want to know how often your management committee meet.

The Charity Commission have a useful guide on charities and meetings which includes advice for trustees on how to run meetings legally.

5

Add your safeguarding policies

Funders need to know how you keep people safe. They often request copies of your child protection, vulnerable adults, and health and safety policies. 

6

Add referees

Many funders request the contact details of two referees. These are people who know your group but are not part of it for example an ex-serviceuser.

Need help choosing a referee?

The Henry Smith Charity have a section on their website What do you mean by an “independent referee”? Which provides useful examples.

7

Add job descriptions

If you are requesting funding for salaries, some funders will request a copy of the job description. Your staff and your volunteers should all have job descriptions.

Need a template?

Prospect UK have created template job descriptions for trustees. Safe Network have a Safe Recruitment Tool Kit with job descriptions templates for people working with children.

8

Add your accounts

All funders will request a copy of your most recent signed annual accounts. The accounts should ideally be signed by your treasurer. Some funding applications request income and expenditure figures for the last three years. You should have a copy of your accounts for each of these years.

Do you need help with your end of year accounts?

The Charity Commission have created Charity Accounting Templates for small charities. 

9

Add banking and budget details

Funders will ask for your organisation’s full bank account details. You will need the following information in your file:

  • the name of your organisations as it appears on your statement
  • your bank’s address
  • sort code
  • account number.

Some funders will also request:

  • information on the amount of reserves (savings) your organisation has
  • how much unrestricted income you currently have
  • information and balances of any saving or investment accounts
  • a copy of a bank statement from the last three months.
10

Document your history

Celebrate your success! Gather any evidence you have of your organisation’s success. This could include:

  • awards
  • quotes from beneficiaries
  • quotes from other organisations who refer to your services
  • evidence of the success of your projects
  • case studies such as good news stories.

Remember to record details of your fundraising success to as many funders will ask for information on your previous grants.

Further information

Check your skills

The Directory of Social Change’s article on Fundraising Skills, lists ‘good admin, organisation and time management’ as key skills of a successful fundraiser. The first step to fundraising success is to ensure you have the necessary administration systems in place. Start your fundraising folder today!

Source

This how-to is based on a blog post written by fundraising consultant Gemma Kingsman for Tennyson Insurance now Zurich Insurance

Contributors

Page last edited Jun 14, 2017 History

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