Infrastructure Checklist

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Communication

Evaluation

Financial Management

Fundraising

Governance

Human Resources

Information Technology

Compliance with applicable HIPAA, COPPA, PCI/DSS data security standards (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996; Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) US
Document retention & destruction policy (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002) US
Compliance with applicable data security standards (PCI, DSS, etc.)
Disaster recovery plan
Management information systems (MIS) policies, procedures & protocols (including data sharing, email, Internet, list-serve, passwords, security, social media, technology use)
Off-site system back-up
Organizational website and email accounts
Software license compliance
Surge protectors, patch management program, intrusion detection system, virus scans, firewalls, SPAM and passwords for all computers
Uninterruptable Power Supplies on key servers
Data collection system—to support continuous improvement & evaluation
Database, searchable by strategic constituent groups
Funded equipment depreciation to allow for necessary technology upgrades
Hardware, software & vendor inventory
Monitor IT developments
Technology assessment & plan
Technology budget, including maintenance & upgrades
Technology training plan (staff & volunteers)


Planning

All necessary/appropriate insurance (i.e., D&O, general liability, etc.) US, NE, IA
Mission statement (990) US

Workers’ compensation insurance (Neb. Rev. Stat. §48-101 through 48-118.05; Iowa Code §87.1, §87.14A) NE, IA

  • Check your state law—the number of employees may impact your requirement to provide.
Advocacy plan
Comprehensive organizational plan—including operations, program strategies, fundraising, financial management/budgeting procedures, communications, risk/crisis management
Data backup & recovery plan
Disaster recovery plan
Executive/leadership transition plan
Fund development plan (diversification of funds)
Marketing & communication plan
Operational or business plan
Organizational assessment/environmental scan
Periodic review of mission, vision, values
Risk & disaster management systems
Strategic plan
Sustainability plan
Technology plan
Values statement
Mission statement
We have a clearly defined, written mission statement that guides the overall aims and activities of our organization and is linked to our values and vision for the future. US
We have a clear, motivating vision statement about the organization’s future that reflects a world enhanced by the accomplishment of our mission.
We have a values statement that reflects our core beliefs and principles and drives the work we do.
The board periodically reviews our mission, vision and values to consider societal and community changes.
Our board and staff can and do articulate a shared vision for the organization.
When planning activities, our organization is responsive to community needs and solicits input from a variety of sources with varying perspectives: staff, board members, funders and other constituents.
We openly communicate with counterparts in our field to share best practices, ensure effective resource allocation, and prevent duplication of services.
We create a written strategic plan every three to five years.
The strategic plan reflects the results of an environmental assessment that includes information on strengths/challenges the organization faces, as well as opportunities for, and perceived threats to mission achievement.
The plan includes clearly defined, measurable goals and objectives that are set by the organization to achieve our mission.

Best Practices

Mission

  • Make the question, “why is our mission important?” a standard component of board, staff and volunteer interviews and orientation; revisit the mission at meetings to discuss why it continues to be important and ask for personal reflections on why the organization’s mission is relevant to the community; emphasize that “no one else will support us if we can’t support ourselves.”
  • Include your mission statement on all written correspondence with board: at top of meeting minutes, on organization letterhead, and as the cover to the board binder/manual. Prominently display the mission at each board meeting (try printing it on the back of business cards and name placards or making laminated cards that you can lay at each place on the table during board and committee meetings).
  • Consider relation to mission before deciding to implement any new project or program. Discuss the cost-benefit ratio in relation to likelihood of advancing toward mission achievement. Prioritize the programs with a higher likelihood of mission impact and reduce or eliminate low-priority programs.
  • Establish an organizational culture where it’s OK to say “no” to an opportunity that does not impact your mission.

Operational Plan

  • Consider the capacity of staff before implementing a new project/program. Ensure that sustainable funding is available to adequately staff and support the activity: if new staff cannot be added, what projects or programs can be downsized or eliminated to free-up staff time? Will any earned income be available?
  • Ensure that facilities, equipment, and technology needs are considered in developing new programs and services. Consider conducting a technology audit. Plan appropriately for staff expansion (e.g., space, furniture).

Risk Management Plan

  • Establish a plan to respond to a possible decrease in funding. As part of this plan, you might prioritize positions and functions, prioritize services, programs and projects and identify a list of potential new funding sources that may be pursued. Consider questions such as:
    • In the event of layoffs, which positions will be targeted?
    • Can any projects be put on hold?
    • Can any services be provided by another organization?
    • Are there individuals, civic groups, foundations or corporations that may support us?
    • Can we adapt any programs to a fee-for-service model?

Stakeholder Input & Responsiveness

  • Regularly monitor census data and other statistics related to community needs to identify trends and provide documentation for funders.
  • Allocate a portion of at least one meeting per year to discuss the needs and demographics of target population, and how the organization can continue to meet those needs within the context of its mission. This conversation should also be a part of all new board member orientations.
  • Develop a plan for engaging target constituencies through involvement on the board, participation in programs, and formal evaluation and feedback processes. Avoid token representation and ensure meaningful participation. Discuss relationship development at regular board meetings.
  • Board members should be cognizant of the impact of cultural differences and perspectives in defining community need and delivering programs. A variety of perspectives should be considered before a decision is made that will impact programming and customer service. Employees and volunteers should be able to effectively relate to and work effectively within the target population. Cultural values and norms must be considered to ensure acceptance and utilization of services by constituents.

Strategic Plan

  • Engage a staff member/consultant to research related programs, studies, and common practices. If research is not available, consider applying for a grant that will support a research project, or partner with a local college/university to initiate relevant research.
  • Assign staff (or engage a consultant or volunteer) to conduct an environmental scan by researching programs that focus on similar mission or focus areas. Identify possible competition, collaboration, and innovation that may strengthen your program. This is recommended as an annual, ongoing activity (and should be considered before implementing a major new program or strategy), but should be conducted every three years at a minimum.
  • Engage a consultant or consider one of many quality resources for self-directed planning to establish a focused strategy for the organization which guides planning, anchored to mission achievement.
  • Make sure that your strategic plan addresses a broad range of resources needed to accomplish each goal/task, including financial resources, facility needs, and staff skills and training.


Public Policy & Advocacy

501(h) election, if conducting any lobbying (Internal Revenue Code §501(c) (3), §501(h)) US
Compliance with lobbying reporting requirements (Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995; Neb. Rev. Stat. §49-1483.03; Iowa Code §68B.37; 990) US, NE, IA
Compliance with prohibition on supporting/opposing candidates or elected officials (Internal Revenue Code §501(c) (3); 990) US
Compliance with prohibition on using federal funds to lobby (Office of Management & Budget Circular A-122; 990) US
Federal lobbyist registration, if you have lobbyists at the Federal level (Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. §1605) US
Iowa lobbyist registration, if you have lobbyists in IA (Iowa Code §68B.36) IA
Nebraska lobbyist registration, if you have lobbyists in NE (Neb. Rev. Stat. §49-1480.01) NE, US
Understand that nonprofits may support/oppose legislation (subject to lobbying limitations) ( Internal Revenue Code §501(c) (3), §501(h); 990) US
Procedures to track lobbying expenses for reporting purposes


Strategic Alliances

Fiscal sponsorship policy & procedures
Joint venture policy
Written memo of agreement/understanding for each collaborative commitment


Best Practices

Assessment

  • Seriously consider collaborative ventures with natural partners for program implementation. Also consider the possibilities of formal alliances and/or mergers as appropriate. Ideally, your board of directors should be open to consolidating or merging with other organizations if it would be in the best interest of our constituents, community, or service area. Effective use of resources through cost-sharing mechanisms will allow a greater level of financial support to direct services.
  • Where formal partnerships exist, be thoughtful about the natural life of the relationship. Decide when and how relationships will be evaluated and/or terminated. Consider formal partnership agreements—particularly when sharing financial resources—that make provisions for both intellectual and real property when the relationship ends.

Relationship Building

  • Make it a habit to communicate regularly with current, past and potential funders. Add them to your mailing list for newsletters, annual reports and e-bulletins. Keep them apprised of significant happenings in your organization. Make it a point to network with key representatives at conferences and trainings.
  • Communicate regularly with other organizations in your area. Share information and resources to establish your organization as one who is invested in improving the community rather than competing. Keep abreast of activities and events that impact your (and their) work. Consider participating in (or establishing) director’s networking breakfasts or brown bag lunch conversation circles.
  • Identify key contacts with local government units (city, state, county, various departments) and business leaders to keep them apprised of your efforts. Add contacts to your newsletter mailing list or email alert system. Schedule breakfast or lunch meetings that will help you build a relationship before there’s an issue to address. Discuss mutual goals as well as opportunities for partnership and collaboration.


Transparency & Accountability

Legal

Compliance with legal reporting, tax law, financial requirements (Internal Revenue Code §6033; 990) US
Obtain Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. US
Document retention & destruction policy (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002; 990) US
IRS Form 1023 & IRS determination letter, publicly available US
IRS Form 990 and variants US
Whistleblower policy (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002; 990) US
Articles of incorporation (Neb. Rev. Stat. §21-1921, §21-1922; Iowa Code §504.202 Minimum Code Requirements) NE, IA
File biennial report (by April 1st, in odd years) with Secretary of State (Neb. Rev. Stat. §21-125; Iowa Code §504.1613) NE, IA
Obtain liquor license (Neb. Rev. Stat. §53-138.03; Iowa Code §123.30(3) (a)) NE, IA
Obtain gaming license to conduct bingo, a lottery by the sale of pickle cards, a lottery with gross proceeds in excess of $1,000, or a raffle with gross proceeds in excess of $5,000. (Neb. Rev. Stat. §9-232.01(1) (2); Neb. Rev. Stat. §9-424(1)) NE
Obtain license for games of skill and chance, bingo operations, raffles, and social gambling activities from the Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals, Social and Charitable Gambling Unit IA
Professional commercial fundraisers must register with the Iowa attorney general and obtain a registration permit. May be required to update registration quarterly. (Iowa Code §13C.2) IA
Be prepared to provide financial disclosure information to any person requesting it (Iowa Code §13C) IA
  • Be aware of the requirements for sales tax/exemptions, as it varies from state to state.

Iowa has a very broad policy of exempting nonprofits from taxes and Nebraska exempts very few.

Essential

Annual report (publicly available)—including program information, organizational performance, financial status, donor (with permission), board & staff listings, organization contact information
Code of ethics
Nondiscrimination policy

Recommended

Confidentiality policies & procedures (all constituents)
Meeting agendas & descriptions of significant decisions made by the board of directors (publicly available)
Information about fees & services provided (publicly available)


Volunteer Engagement