Not-for-Profit Toolkit

The CICF Not-for-Profit Toolkit was designed to offer support to community not-for-profits. It is a concise, curated collection of practical tools and information about many aspects of leading and operating a small- to mid-sized not-for-profit in Central Indiana. These resources can help your not-for-profit elevate the voices and needs of the people you serve while you strengthen your operations and financial stability.

  • Have you wondered where to start if you have a question about fundraising? What if your not-for-profit wants to support a particular bill in the state legislature – can a not-for-profit do that? You can quickly find those answers here.
  • Could you use a simple tool to help you prioritize your not-for-profit’s programs? Find an easy to use matrix mapping tool here in the organizational growth section.
  • Is it time for your board’s annual review of your performance? Locate a simple evaluation form as a starting point for your board.

While you could google this information, you would find dozens—or even hundreds—of resources under each topic, with varying levels of credibility. These 75 resources are curated by field experts, and include articles to provide context, planning and management tools. Some, particularly legal and human resources, are Indiana focused. Updates will occur periodically to ensure relevancy.



Steve Zimmerman wrote the book on the Sustainability Matrix tool that not-for-profits across the country have used to prioritize programs and help board, staff, and other stakeholders better understand organizational finances. His article, How Not-for-profits Can Manage Uncertainty Amid Crisis, overviews key financial steps plus provides a cashflow worksheet and the matrix-map tool.


Tool offers a detailed roadmap "for turning a good not-for-profit into a great one.” – Good to Great author Jim Collins. Consists of a 10- to 15-minute survey that produces an assessment of your organization’s performance in the seven essential areas of strategic leadership.


Partnerships can be a way to increase impact, realize operating efficiencies, or bring together leadership talent. This short discussion outline helps begin a frequently uncomfortable conversation with your board.


There is a trend of not-for-profits exploring business ventures as an alternative source of revenue to traditional sources. This article provides a short checklist to help determine whether your business idea will advance your mission or distract you from it.


Though the idea of merging with another not-for-profit is often viewed as a last resort, research is showing positive outcomes on impact and sustainability.


With much discussion about scenario planning and responding to our new environment, this free tool can be used to think through how your people, organization, and community are being impacted and explore options to respond.


Find out why capacity building is important for the infrastructure of your not-for-profit. This resources provides several links to additional resources for leaders and grantmakers.


Not-for-Profit consultant, Tina Cincotti, shares 10 steps that will help you to see the big picture while developing your plan. Follow the link within to download the worksheet that accompanies the ten step plan.


A recap of a webinar presented by Stina Rubin and Adria Orr. A recording of the webinar is also provided.

  • How board members can do the most good in the pandemic COVID-19 icon
    Many board members are at a loss about how they should be responding in these difficult times. Where is the line between micro-managing and leading?
  • Responsibilities of a not-for-profit board member
    Serving as a board member of a not-for-profit should be enjoyable, but also a serious responsibility. This short article overviews 10 aspects of the board member’s role to pay attention to, and that it is more than attending an occasional board meeting.
  • Candid conversations about board governance
    Discussing areas for improvement related to board governance can be difficult, but are critical to organizational success. This “tip sheet” offers guidance and additional resources on governance areas most likely to be a challenge for boards of small-to-mid-size not-for-profit organizations.
  • Evaluating the executive director/CEO tool icon
    One of the most important responsibilities of the board is to evaluate the work of the executive director or CEO and regularly discuss progress toward organizational goals. This article provides an evaluation form (Word format) to use as a starting point.
  • Succession planning for the not-for-profit board chair
    The board chair is a pivotal role for both the board and the organization. The board chair sets the tone for leadership and accountability and can move the organization forward or leave it to muddle through. This 8-page white-paper guide provides great insights for a new or long-term board chair.
  • Emergency Executive Director/CEO succession tool icon
    It can be an uncomfortable conversation to start but every organization should have an emergency succession plan for the ED/CEO and other key staff. This toolkit provides a detailed overview and sample forms.
  • Developing a simple “dashboard”tool icon
    Not-for-profit board and staff leaders love the idea of a dashboard to visually illustrate what is going well and where the organization is falling short; but it can seem like an overwhelming task. Here is a simple way to start with a green, yellow, red light tool.
  • What Governance Policies Should You Have? Conflict of Interest, Gift Acceptance, Whistleblower, Document Retention, etc.
    This brief article gives you a quick overview and points you to resources for examples and templates you can adapt to your organization.
  • Code of Conduct and Ethics 🌟 🔧
    This downloadable document from Boardsource outlines the code of conduct and ethics required by members of the board. This document includes in depth definitions, practical tips, and some sample codes of ethics.
  • Checklist of Board Roles and Responsibilities 🌟 🔧
    Boardsource provides an easy list of basic board roles and responsibilities. Can your board check all the boxes?
  • Crisis Communications 🌟
    Does your board have a strategy for when the unexpected arises? Here are four things to consider when planning for organizational crises to ensure that the events are handled legally and ethically.
  • Handling Board Conflict 🌟
    Use these key tips to manage conflict in your board meetings and ensure that all board members can have candid and productive discussions.
  • How to Read a Profit and Loss Statement 🌟
    When it comes to understanding your business’s success at a glance, nothing reveals more than your profit and loss statement. Utilize this resource to familiarize yourself with the P & L statement and the ways it can give insight into the financial health of your organization.
  • Taking action on board diversity
    A board that is homogenous in any way risks having blind spots that negatively impact its ability to make the best decisions and plans for the organization. This two-pager outlines 5 key questions to help articulate the importance of diversity and put it into practice.
  • 10 steps to a more diverse board
    Understanding the importance of a diverse board is a start, understanding how to get there may seem daunting. This article outlines 10 unique steps that your board can take to move the needle.
  • Accelerating not-for-profit diversity
    According to BoardSource, not-for-profit board member makeup has nearly achieved complete gender equality, but there is a huge imbalance with regard to race and age. This article highlights the factors your organization should discuss and implement to develop a more diverse and inclusive board.
  • Beyond political correctness: Building a diverse and inclusive board
    Exceptional not-for-profit boards recognize that diversity is essential to an organization’s success. They see the correlation between mission, strategy and board composition and understand that establishing an inclusive organization starts with establishing a diverse and inclusive board
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Findings Report 🌟
    Read through this in-depth report about diversity, equity, and inclusion among boards. These findings will help illustrate the importance of ensuring your board is diverse and reflective of the populations being served by your organization.
  • Why Does it Matter Q&A 🌟
    This Q&A guide will lead you through why board diversity matters and is important to prioritize.
Recruiting and Orientation
  • Board member recruiting event
    Locally, you can register and participate in Leadership Indianapolis' annual Get on Board event where hundreds of potential board members visit with 100 not-for-profits.
  • On-board with vigor
    It is common for board members to say that it took them a full year to understand their role. An intentional orientation and engagement process help new board members contribute from the start.
  • 15-page “sample handbook”tool icon
    Provides board member recruiting and application forms plus an outline for a basic board member orientation (2019).
  • CEO Do’s and Don’ts for Board Recruitment 🌟
    Here is an easy do’s and don'ts list for CEOs working to recruit members for their board.
  • Building a High Impact Board🌟
    This resource provides a detailed look at the board recruitment process and provides several steps and tips to recruit effectively.

  • An opportunity to operationalize equity: A Racial Equity Toolkit
    Provides strategies and actions that reduce racial inequities and improve success for all groups. Racial equity tools are designed to integrate explicit consideration of racial equity in decisions, including policies, practices, programs and budgets. (updated 2016)
  • Racial equity tools COVID-19 icon
    Provides a plethora information and tools that are designed to help organizations, communities, and activists as they work to understand and respond to the current situation (and for the long haul) as it relates to racial equity.
  • Charity Review Council DEI Toolkit ($500)
    In order to meet DEI standards, organizations needed a self-administered tool that was affordable and focused on organizational development versus individual training. Self-administered assessment tool.
  • Accountability Principles 🌟
    This tool supports and guides organizations that are ready to advance their racial equity work.
  • Tools for Accountability 🌟
    CICF’s list of resources and tools for anyone looking to take the initiative to learn more about equity.
  • Racial Equity Glossary 🌟
    This glossary can be helpful tool for creating a shared understanding when discussing racial equity.
  • Continuum on becoming an anti-racist organization 🌟
    This PDF can help you assess where your organization is in its journey to become anti-racist and help you set goals you need to get there.

Donor Engagement
  • Choosing a donor management system tool icon
    Idealware is a not-for-profit that evaluates software solutions for not-for-profits. With dozens, maybe hundreds, of donor management packages to choose from, they offer reviews and insights.
  • 10 Fundraising Tools🌟 🔧
    Each year Nonprofit Tech for Good features a new set of online fundraising tools that are timely and relevant for the year to come.
  • Creative Examples 🌟
    This post looks at five successful fundraising campaigns, analyzing how digital fundraising technology can help a nonprofit increase donations, find new donors and extend the reach of a campaign.
  • Nonprofit Tech Solutions 🌟 🔧
    Pond is a startup focused on alleviating two of the biggest stressors for nonprofit leaders: how to find the right tools and how to pay for them.
Foundation & grant research
  • Foundation Center Library tool icon
    The Indianapolis Public Library Central Branch provides free online access to directories to search for foundations to fund organizations. Use the “Ask a librarian” electronic feature, if you need help (chat, text or email).
  • Grant research list
    Here is a broad overview of websites and services you can access to learn more about foundation and government grants that could be applicable to your organization.
  • Getting started on grant research
    A helpful rundown of free tools to help with prospecting research along with tips and tricks to help get you started down the right path and make your research more fruitful.
  • How to write a winning grant proposal
    Here’s a quick one-page introduction to take some of the mystery out of grant writing for funders who don’t provide clear instructions or proposals.
  • GrantAdvisor tool icon
    A crowdsourced anonymous review site for a not-for-profit to rate its foundation experience to provide and view feedback working with its foundations and grantmakers. Brief overview of the platform.
  • Expert grant proposal review by Unfunded ($100) tool icon
    Twice each year, this group of funding experts accept and review grant proposals in order to provide feedback.
  • Grant Research Tools 🌟
    There are several different grant research tools with different strengths and weaknesses and dramatically different costs. To help nonprofits navigate the confusing world of grant research databases, The National Council of Nonprofits explored some of the available tools.
  • 7 Tips for Grant Research 🌟
    This tool will give you 7 helpful tips as you make a plan to take on grant research.
  • Corporate Grants 🌟Here is a source list of corporate grants for non-profit organizations (501C3) from major corporations in the U.S.
  • Indiana Grants and Foundations 🌟
    A list of the latest Indiana grants and foundations.

Health & Safety
working remote & Mental health

Accounting/Audit Practices
  • Serving as treasurer when there isn’t staff
    In very small not-for-profits, the bookkeeping and check writing roles can fall to a volunteer treasurer. This article provides a great job description and outline for a current treasurer or that a gracious financially-minded person who has agreed to become your next treasurer (2010).
  • When/why does a not-for-profit need a financial audit
    Most very small not-for-profits do not need an annual independent audit from a CPA firm: there are alternatives to increase the board’s and funder’s confidence in your finances. This article outlines some typical revenue and funder thresholds plus three additional resources.
  • P&L vs Balance Sheet🌟
    Both involve a company’s finances, but their differences are significant.
  • Not-for-profit sample operating reserve policy 🌟
    This resource includes a PDF download to help you develop a reserve

Risk Management
  • No business continuity plan? Here are 4 steps COVID-19 icon
    Special edition of the RISK eNews offers a highly simplified, quick-start framework to activate when your not-for-profit is currently facing an interruption to operations.
  • Basic business continuity template COVID-19 icon
    Mercy Corps, an international disaster agency around since the early 1980s, has helped people recover from tough humanitarian emergencies. Offers a series of questions to frame any emergency.
  • Potential Insurance Claims COVID-19 icon
    Since the pandemic shutdown is uncharted territory, your business insurance policy might make you eligible to file a claim with your insurance carrier.
  • State of Indiana resource page for not-for-profits
    Forming or operating a not-for-profit in Indiana. This site includes best practices checklist, fundraising registration, how to apply for an Indiana Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  • BoardSource legal and compliance issues FAQs
    Compilation of governance-related questions posed by not-for-profit leaders over the past 30 years. Quick source for legal and compliance questions.
Advocacy vs Lobbying
  • The difference between not-for-profit advocacy and not-for-profit lobbying
    The IRS places limits on the ability of a charitable not-for-profit to lobby, but what does that mean?
  • Avoid political campaigning
    Federal tax law is very strict on the issue of political campaigning: A 501(c)(3) organization is absolutely forbidden to directly or indirectly participate in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office, but what does that mean?
  • Education/Advocacy/Lobbying 🌟
    This 30-minute presentation discusses the differences between education, advocacy, and lobbying; and what foundations and nonprofits are legally allowed to do.
Closing & Dissolution

  • The Fund Raising School at IUPUI
    A world-renowned resource that’s right down the street. They provide a wide range of training programs and certificates, on campus and on-line.Check out a selection of free resources available through the school:

  • The Association of Fundraising Professionals
    The Central Indiana chapter of this international organization meets monthly and provides a great forum to learn and network with other fundraisers.
  • Charitable Gift Planners of Indiana
    For development professionals in designing and implementing charitable gift planning; providing continued education, mentoring and networking opportunities.
  • Not-for-Profit News
    Free, local, weekly e-newsletter with 14,000 subscribers that shares information about local not-for-profits, training events, people on the move, and job postings.
  • 33 Nonprofit Podcasts 🌟
    If you want to expand your fundraising network, learn new strategies for digital outreach, or listen to how other nonprofits have climbed the ladder of success, all you need is a pair of good headphones.

  • 18 free marketing tools for not-for-profits
    This is an inclusive list of resources and shortcuts that allow you to advance your marketing and communications efforts with a limited budget
  • 101 Best Practices 🌟
    101 Digital Marketing & Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofits is a blog and webinar series (written and presented by Heather Mansfield) on website design, email marketing, online fundraising, and social media best practices for nonprofits, NGOs, and charities worldwide.
  • Advertising support for not-for-profits 🌟
    This site provides strategic advertising support for not-for-profits