Imagine these scenarios:
- A nonprofit submits a request for funding only to be turned down due to failure to meet prior grant requirements.
- A nonprofit cannot reapply for a contract because they did not turn in the necessary reports.
- A nonprofit learns they lost their tax-deductible status since they did follow IRS rules for filing.
It may sound surprising, but it happens, and not that infrequently. In many of the cases above, leadership transitions resulted in the loss of internal accountability for following up on the commitments the organization made in order to receive funding, get a contract, or even retain their nonprofit status. Or, in the throws of being focused on day-to-day operations, the nonprofit forgot they made a commitment to a grant maker to report on the results of the initiative that was funded.
A simple solution to all this is to create an organizational calendar. Creating such a document helps nonprofit boards and executive staff stay on top of critical milestones. This not only includes board meeting dates, or special event dates, but also key activities that the organization must follow through on to meet commitments and monitor its mission.
One of the top concerns I heard by grant makers and government funders is the lack of follow-through on the part of nonprofits in providing timely reports on progress made possible by their financial support. This is not just a strict protocol, but a real requirement in which they have to report to their board, or in the case of the government, to other government officials on the use of funds. When a nonprofit fails to submit their information in a timely manner, they negatively impact the very people who are financially supporting them.
Here are some ideas on what to include in an organizational calendar:
- Board meeting dates
- Annual meeting, including the date when the annual budget is passed and evaluation of organizational progress towards the strategic plan takes place
- Date to file and pay franchise tax
- Date to file the appropriate IRS form 990
- Date to report back to a grant maker or a contractor on program/project progress
- Date to review the Executive Director
- Special fundraising event dates
- Date for new board member orientation
- Date for board self-evaluation
- Date to review personnel policies to ensure they are compliant with state and federal laws
- Date for the annual DANA conference, or the gatherings of other professional organizations of which your nonprofit is a member
Once completed, the calendar should be readily available for all board members and staff to review. Board Chairs can regularly reference the calendar, and request confirmation that the scheduled initiative was indeed followed through on. This one document can help your organization stay on top, helping to support your mission in 2016.
Happy New Year!