Financial documents requested on grant applications

edited October 2022 in Grants & Scholarships

Courtesy post on behalf of Seth Baker at the Van Wert County Foundation:

What financial documents do you require from applicants?

How does that information factor into your review of funding requests ?

How do you handle applicants that submit the wrong documents?

Kara Adams, M.Ed., CAE (she/her/hers)|Community Manager|[email protected]

Headquartered: Bozeman, MT| Remote Location: Chicago, IL | Direct: 312-802-1374 ||



  • BonnieFadelBonnieFadel Posts: 9
    Summit 2024 First Compass Anniversary First Comment 5 Likes

    We request the most recent annual balance sheet and income statement, interim statements from most recent quarter, latest 990 if they file, and the latest budget. Applicants use their own format, and upload their documents. They can add text explanations if needed.

    We’ve had issues getting the appropriate financial documents from some applicants. Some of our applicant organizations are small and lack accounting skills, so we have to guide them. The information seems to be available; we just have to explain how to get it.

    We plan to develop short basic information that explains financial documents – specifically the balance sheet and income statement - and attach it to our annual email invitation to apply for a grant. Does anyone else run into this issue, or have a suggestion of what information to include in a fact sheet?

    KaraAdams (Former Community Manager)MeliaSwirsky
  • CameronWoodCameronWood Posts: 40 ✭✭✭
    First Compass Anniversary 5 Likes Name Dropper First Comment
    edited August 2022

    Really great questions! My answers are below.

    1.) What financial documents do you require from applicants?

    We collect 990s, current operating budget, and program budgets for the program they are requesting funding for.

    2.) How does that information factor into your review of funding requests?

    We use the 990s more so to verify nonprofit status and that the organization is in good standing with the IRS.

    We use the current operating budget to assess how money is being spent at the organization. This has sometimes helped us to see that some programs requesting funding are already receiving funding for this program that they did not mention on the application. So, an award amount may be reduced depending on what additional support we see the program is already getting. It also tells us how well an organization budgets and manages their money. But we do not fault organizations if they are not meeting the bar - we instead work closely with them to help get them to where they need to be to successfully implement and sustain the program we are funding.

    The program budget is probably a little more self-explanatory. This is used to determine if the proposed program is financially sound. We have a general idea of how much it will cost to operate the programs we fund, what's reasonable, and what's not. Also, we catch some expenses in the program budget that are not an allowable expense, so this allows us to inform the applicant that we are not able to fund that line item and help them plan to fund that line item. Lastly, our program budget template allows applicants to list additional funding sources to support the program - and the Board uses this to determine strength of sustainability because they like to see support from other sources other than us.

    3.) How do you handle applicants that submit the wrong documents?

    Before, applicants would just be denied immediately in the past. Since coming on, I have implemented a "Requesting Additional Material (RAM)" process. This process allows applicants to re-submit forms and paperwork they missed or that need to be corrected. This is why I give my review stage at least 2 weeks or more - this allows me to work closely with each organization to help satisfy the required documents needed for the Board to consider and approve the request. If they are still not able to produce the appropriate documents after going through our RAM process, we then unfortunately have to abide by our policies, which would mean the application was not completed and no longer to be considered.

    I hope any of this helps. Definitely would love to hear what others are doing and how others are using these documents in their review process. Thanks for asking these questions!

    KaraAdams (Former Community Manager)MeliaSwirskyDanaBerggren
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