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.
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- Not-for-profit organizational lifecycle matrix tool
This straightforward adapted tool helps you identify where your organization is right now, what success looks like in the next stage, and the steps you can take to move to the next level of performance and sustainability.
- From sustainability to survivability
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.
- Engine of Impact Diagnostic
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.
- Exploring strategic partnerships (BoardSource) power of possibility
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.
- Is earned/business income the solution to our funding needs?
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.
- Mergers that work
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.
- The Disruption Canvas
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.
- How board members can do the most good in the pandemic
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
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
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”
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.
- 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.
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”
Provides board member recruiting and application forms plus an outline for a basic board member orientation (2019).
- Ten Equity Implications of the Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak in the United States
The NAACP offers a detailed resource outlining specific advocacy actions to take, in both the short- and long-term, to meet the immediate needs of those most vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic.
- 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
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.
- Rethink how you are communicating with donors during today’s pandemic
This wisdom packed article from an author with 41-years of fundraising experience suggests your organizational focus to what you can do vs. what you cannot do.
- Charity gaming/raffles require registration with the State of Indiana
Though not-for-profits can host fundraising events centered around activities like bingo and raffles, the state does require registration and licensing.
- How to hold a private raffle
- Six things your board needs to know about fundraising
In a concise manner, this resource offers actionable resources for your board and how fundraising really works.
- Building a culture of philanthropy
The Evelyn &Walter Haas, Jr. Fund is funding research to help every not-for-profit knock down the silos within their organization to engage every board and staff member.
- Three not-for-profit fundraising ideas that sound good but aren’t
Here three common approaches to sidetrack your real fundraising potential.
- The Donor Journey: A pocketbook guide
In this insightful resource, you will learn how to: increase engagement and giving by offering donors choices and inviting donors to a deeper relationship with your organization. Download without registration.
- Improve donor retention just 10% to dramatically improve your fundraising results
This short article shares how to calculate your donor retention rate and keep donors engaged longer (Not-for-profit Pro, 2014).
- 13 tips to write better fundraising appeals
Terrific reminders when it is time to write that next letter or appeal.
- Mistakes that will sink your fundraising efforts.
There are many rules and guidelines that industry pros have learned through expensive testing and their own mistakes. Learn about 5 key mistakes that could be harmful to your fundraising efforts.
- Choosing a donor management system
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.
- 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
Foundation & grant research
- Foundation Center Library
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.
- Why Evaluation is Important to Your Not-for-Profit
Scientific, academic-style evaluation has its place but can discourage action-oriented, program-focused, not-for-profit managers and staff. Take a simpler approach to measuring success and improving your impact.
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)
Twice each year, this group of funding experts accept and review grant proposals in order to provide feedback.
- Hiring an employee vs. independent contractor
When adding an employee, there are strict criteria to determine whether that person is an employee or an independent contractor.
- May employees also volunteer for your organization?
Your employees care about your cause and they sometimes offer to help with something beyond their role. When is that allowed and when would you have to pay them overtime? (2013, Georgia)
- Do I have to pay overtime?
This article explains how to separate employee roles that must be paid overtime from those that do not and avoid fines and liability.
- Considerations when hiring your next not-for-profit staff leader
What are the most important skills your new staff leader needs? Is it to know the neighborhood? Is it a winning personality? This article outlines three key characteristics and why they matter for many not-for-profit leaders.
- Reducing unconscious bias in recruiting/hiring
This article provides a useful framework to enable your organization to avoid screening out candidates or preferring candidates for reasons unrelated to their ability to deliver in the role.
- Hiring your first employee
Moving from all-volunteer to your first paid staff member takes careful consideration and multiple steps of implementation and compliance. The State of Indiana wants to help you do things right and provides on-line resources plus chat and phone support.
- Employee layoffs
While it is always recommended that an attorney be consulted prior to layoffs, here are some useful insights as you consider the unfortunate possibilities.
- Free community HR resources
If you don’t have an experienced human resources person on your staff or board, one of your board members can likely connect you to a helpful HR person in his or her office to volunteer to handle routine questions or even do a quick review of your employee handbook.
Health & Safety
- Employee Health/Safety/Precautions
The Indiana State Department of Health is the place to start for general information that is regularly updated.
working remote & Mental health
- How is the COVID-19 outbreak affecting your team?
This free tool for managers can be used to assess the well-being, remote readiness and specific needs of their teams during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Useful wellness and mental health apps
A list of free and paid apps for meditation and relaxation and coping with stress and anxiety.
- Reality-based resources toolbox
Free unconventional reality-based tools, assessments, team exercises and discussion guides to help ditch the workplace drama, boost employee value, hardwire accountability and restore sanity to the workplace.
- Maintaining staff morale in the face of adversity
Not-for-profits often face hard times. This simple dos-and-don’ts resource includes steps to reduce the negative impact of serious funding changes on staff morale.
- What not-for-profits should do right now
This article is a concise response to navigating the academic and provides links to two important tools – a worksheet to forecast cashflow and another to model financial scenarios. Includes short video intros to each tool.
- Loans: A guide to borrowing for not-for-profit organizations
Because funds are often short, not-for-profits may consider borrowing money to pay the bills. This short article explains the appropriate use of borrowed funds.
- An executive director’s guide to financial leadership
Though most not-for-profits have a bookkeeper or account who handles the day-to-day recordkeeping, the executive director/CEO plays a critical role in fully grasping the organization’s financial status and keeping the board informed.
- Telling your financial story
Your board members and supporters can help you more if they understand your finances. This guide will help develop your financial story.
- 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.
- Financial practices self-assessment
Originally developed for not-for-profit afterschool programs, it has lots of practical and transferable tools and videos.
- No business continuity plan? Here are 4 steps
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
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
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?
Closing & Dissolution
- Steps to dissolving a not-for-profit
Dissolving an organization can be a difficult and emotional process, but there are steps you can take to ensure that the process of winding down your not-for-profit is as smooth as possible.
- Closing down the right way
This checklist provides steps for boards that are considering dissolution.
- State of Indiana resource page for dissolution of a not-for-profit
Explains the two forms—voluntary or involuntary—and includes the legal procedure.
- Barnes and Thornburg LLP’s legislative tracker
The daily-updated tracker provides a quick resource to check the latest government and agency developments. It is searchable by jurisdiction, policy area, bill status, keyword, in three different dashboards.
- FaegreDrinker: Question & Answer Employer Guide: Return to Work in the Time of COVID-19
- Reopening on-site operations: Preliminary guide for employers
Published by Morgan, Lewis highlights key considerations employers should begin analyzing regarding how to reopen or expand operations, and offers practical implementation steps.
- The FrameWorks Institute
Shares three ways to approach talking about the future in light of the pandemic and offers broader guidance on framing COVID-19. Full series also available.
- What was, is, and could be
Simple visual activity to help reflect on the changing landscape and the challenges and opportunities resulting from the pandemic by Leadership Council (2020).
- Scenarios: worst, moderate, best
Bridgespan group features three not-for-profits talking about scenario planning during moments of crisis webinar. Matching tools are being developed.
- Bridgespan's COVID-19 not-for-profit resource center
Offers resources on effective strategy, organizational strength, effective leadership and financial health.
- 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.