Failure to have basic infrastructure in place could lead to your grant proposal rejection. Develop your nonprofit infrastructure in the short-run and you'll get more grants in the long-run. In this article, you'll learn the 6 key components of a strong nonprofit infrastructure.
Let's look at an analogy. For a society to operate smoothly, it needs infrastructure in the form of roads, water supply, sewers, power grids, and telecommunications. Without these elements of infrastructure, a society will struggle and sputter along.
Likewise, nonprofits need a strong infrastructure to get grants and fulfill their missions. Infrastructure, here, is defined as the basic physical and organizational elements needed for a nonprofit to operate and function optimally.
6 Key Components of Nonprofit Infrastructure
Nonprofit startups and even established nonprofits need 6 basic components of an infrastructure to function optimally and position themselves to get even more grant funding:
* Staff organizational chart
* Evaluation & data collection
* Fiscal management
* Time sheets
Let's look at each of these in detail.
Staff organizational chart – This is a visual display of all staff members and the connectivity between workers. Every agency, no matter its size, should have an organizational chart for paid and volunteer staff. Assistants, directors, teachers, tutors, teacher aids, web designers, board, chief executive officer … are all connected. The organizational chart shows this visually.
Evaluation & data collection – Grants require evaluations of your agency's performance through the collection of data such as number of clients served, attendance, hours in the program, pre-and post-test scores, peer evaluations, completion rates (like graduation or grade level ), Etc. Data can be quantified using numbers or qualified using testimonials or self-reporting.
Fiscal management – This reiter to the monitoring and reporting of spending, expenses and revenue. In addition to using an electronic accounting system to keep accurate electronic records, you should have binders or folders that include hard copies of every expense, as well as invoices or receipt that document the sellers used, date, amount and item purchased.
Time sheets – Keep in mind that the number one reason for problems in audits inadequate documentation of work performed on grants. This means that people are paid from grants, but there is no adequate record or proof that work was indeed done. An agreement for work to be done is not enough.
The solution to this is to require that every single person employed on a grant to keep and sign a monthly time sheet. This will protect your agency in case of an audit. It's easier to start out with a time sheet policy – for all paid staff and volunteers, too – than it is to try to track down people "after the fact" when they have moved on after the grant is finished.
Credibility – Credibility is the ability of the agency to do what it says it will do … and more! Here are 6 ways to build credibility:
1) Partner with agencies that have credibility, especially on grants
2) Create an image, logo and slogan that screams credibility
3) Strengthen your board with reliable members
4) Include the names of the board members on your agency's stationery
5) Create a quarterly newsletter (hardcopy and online version)
6) Create a high-quality annual report and distribute it broadly
Sustainability – An important part of your infrastructure is your sustainability plan. That is, how do you plan to continue your programs "after" the grant funding has gone?