TenThings: Non-Profit Organization Documents

As the Executive Director, Board member or Association manager there are at least 10 documents that you need to know and understand.

  1. Articles of Incorporation – Written during the association start-up phase.  This document explains to the State in which you are incorporated who you are and what you do and why.  It is the basic foundation of your organization.  This legal document will need to be reviewed on a regular basis and filed with your annual 990 tax return if revised.
  2. Bylaws – Written during the association start-up phase as well.  While similar to the Articles of Incorporation, this is the document that explains to your membership and organization how you will operate.
  3. IRS Determination Letter  – After the IRS has received and approved your application to become a non-profit organization, they will issue a “Determination Letter.”  This letter will be necessary to open bank accounts, apply for grants and many other activities as it serves as proof that you are indeed a non-profit organization.
  4. State Tax Exemption Letter – Once you have non-profit status, you can then apply for state sales tax exemption from the states in which you operate.  This letter will be required to actually receive the benefit from vendors.
  5. Strategic Plan – Written and implemented by the Board of Directions.  Your Strategic Plan should be readily available and regularly updated.
  6. Marketing Plan –  How do you plan to grow your association? Promote your programs? This plan will list the specific steps to accomplish those goals.
  7. Budgets – Developed annually and reviewed often!
  8. Policy Manual – The policy manual will list those items not included in the Articles of Incorporation or Bylaws.  The manual should include the recommended policies from your annual 990 – Conflict of Interest, Whistleblower, Investment, Record Retention, Anti Trust as well as others as appropriate.
  9. Employee Handbook – An absolute must once you add staff into the equation.  Having an employee handbook will protect both the organization and individuals.
  10. Website – May not be considered a document, but it is written and will  need regular review and revision.

For all of these documents it is recommended to have a regularly scheduled review for potential  revision.

BONUS:  11.  Annual Calendar – List all of the tasks, deadlines and important events for your organization.  This document will help to keep both the Board of Directors and Staff on track all year long.