General Supporting Documents
Supporting documents provide the real-world evidence that what you are saying is real. These documents are essential to show the depth of your organization, giving a clear picture of who you are and what you are doing in the world.Copies of Licenses and Other Legal Documents
The board secretary should have copies of all documents the organization has compiled since the decision to incorporate. For the purpose of the business plan, you will generally only need the cover sheets of these documents, because they have the legal date stamp or other indicator that the particular license or permit is valid. Once you have obtained your federal tax exemption, the determination letter is all you will need to provide to verify that status. Likewise, include a copy of the latest Form 990 as a matter of principle.
Very few grant-making committees will have the time or inclination to read through pages of documentation. They want to see that your organization has the documents and that they are current, particularly with respect to any financial documentation.Copy of Proposed Lease or Purchase Agreement for Building Space
This paper is very important because it shows one of the major expenses your organization is already committed to, one that would obviously affect your ability to function if it were cut. It also points to the current stability of the organization; the fact that the leadership has agreed to a long-term project indicates stability.Business Insurance
If you are carrying any type of insurance, note it here. This includes any property or vehicle insurance, as well as board insurance (discussed in Chapter 18). You are including this information to give the reader as clear a picture of your organization as possible. Carrying an insurance policy is evidence that your organization is responsible and that you are taking necessary precautions and limiting unnecessary risks. A fully exposed organization that does not carry basic insurance will make potential funders nervous, so providing this documentation will help allay those concerns.Copy of Resumes of All Principals
You should have one-page resumes or curriculum vitae (CVs) from each of your board members or, at the very least, your current officers and any staff with direct responsibility or oversight for the organization's finances. Although your group is incorporated and that incorporation entails the legal separation between the individuals and the corporate entity, your business plan is still going to be reviewed by real people.
A well-designed one-page resume for each of your current board members will show the community exactly who is running the organization and make your project much more likely to receive the support you need. Include a small photograph of each person to help readers connect faces to your organization.
It is essential that the people reading your plan feel comfortable enough with the people who represent your organization that they will be willing to make a financial contribution. Although there will be opportunities for inperson meetings, everyone involved at this stage will base their decisions on the paperwork on the table, and that paperwork must show your organization in its finest light and prove that the people running it have the experience to make everything work.Copies of Letters of Intent
These copies may be necessary if you want to show that your organization is a viable business with outstanding financial obligations. If you are seeking money, you will have identified the amount you are requesting and fully documented the need. The ability to provide the actual letters of intent from the businesses you are working with and who will ultimately receive the requested funds shows the full and comprehensive nature of your business plan.Loan Applications
Include any loan applications you currently have pending in this section. While they are financial documents, loan applications are not money you currently have to work with, but rather funds you may hope to have. The purpose of including them here is to present as much about your business as possible.
The information can be as complete or abbreviated as you are comfortable with, but potential funders need to know the financial health of your organization and be aware of and understand your current loan application(s).Capital Equipment List
A start-up nonprofit probably won't have anything beyond basic office equipment, but even that has value. The depreciation on this equipment will appear in your budget, so including it here will show that this entire document is complete.