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  • What to Stuff: A Nonprofit Proposal Attachment Checklist

As if writing proposals for your work wasn’t hard enough, you need to think just as thoroughly about what attachments you are including with it! Too much additional information can counteract your good proposal, while not enough can make you not stand out.

You want to give just enough extras, and the right ones, to accent your proposal and make your work shine as better than the rest. Here are two checklists designed to simplify your stuffing, whether you are emailing, sending hard copies, or filling out online applications, for both individual asks and grants. (More checklists here.)


Individual Letter Proposal Attachments

Stuffing snail mail:

  • One page (two page max) letter using three colors. See Template for a Donation Request to help get you started!
  • A handwritten note on the envelope and the letter.
  • A return addressed, stamped business envelope for sending you a gift. Nonprofits can receive up to 50% more returns if they send a stamped envelope with major gift appeals! See Society for Nonprofit Organizations study on pros and cons of including one.
  • A response form with: easy directions to give with a credit card, via mail and online; an address; and a phone number.
  • A coupon for a gift or discount in your store or museum. (While data is inconclusive, most agree nonprofits receive more returns when they include a premium with an ask – Heartland Direct estimates 80% more returns, for example. They are more than just guilt pieces when they connect the donor to your cause. But keep premiums at low or no cost, or you can negate your net profits!
  • Seal of recommendation – a quote from a recognized donor, volunteer, or program participant.
  • A personal invitation to a community event, seasonal show, or to witness a program in action.

Stuffing email:

  • A three paragraph email max.
  • Bold colors, but simple formatting.
  • An action picture. NP Engage suggests making it your email header to immediately engage viewers.
  • An easy link to a giving form for an online gift.
  • A phone number and address to reach you if they are uncomfortable giving online.
  • An easy link to your Facebook and other social media.
  • An advertisement of your high Charity Navigator rating (if you have one).

Foundations and Grants

Stuff ONLY if requested:

  • Your 501c3 IRS determination letter.
  • Your most recent audited financial.
  • Your IRS 990 or link to it on Guidestar.
  • Your strategic plan. If you don’t have one, or need to improve yours, see Georgia Center for Nonprofit’s good article simplifying the steps.

Stuff ALWAYS unless prohibited:

  • A document with pictures of people actively participating in your work.
  • Your organizational budget with committed funding sources and funding plan.
  • Links to your social media: YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • A testimonial. Testimonials directly connect your donor to how her money helps. There often is no space in the proposal text for one, so you should have a one sheet story crafted to share as an insert.
  • At least one letter of recommendation from a partner or supporter ideally linked to the funder or known and respected within the community.
  • A link or print out of a story in a renowned media source (an expose of a project in the local paper, etc.).
  • An advertisement of your high Charity Navigator rating (if you have one).

More fundraising checklists here.

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