May 2, 2007

Nonprofit Operations Manual Template

Today we tried to have a Nonprofit Ops brown bag lunch about creating an Nonprofit Operations Manual but no one showed up. I'm not sure if it is because this isn't an interesting topic or my poor advertising. Oh well--I did have quite a few people e-mail me and tell me they couldn't make it to the discussion and asked me to send them an Operations Manual template.

I was hoping to find other nonprofit Operations Manuals online or step-by-step guides but only found a few resources that relate a little bit to creating a nonprofit Operations Manual. So I decided to create my own Nonprofit Operations Manual template. I took out all the specific organizational information in Aspiration's Operations Manual and created a generic Operations Manual template. Our Operations Manual consists of two sections:

A. Key Organizational Information

This section documents the most critical organization information.

  • Bank Information
  • Nonprofit Incorporation Information
  • Vendor Information
  • Human Resources Information
  • Recurring Operational Tasks
    • Weekly
    • Monthly
    • Quarterly
    • Annually

B. Operations Procedure Manual

This section provides step-by-step instructions for key operations procedures.

  • Security Culture/Procedure
  • Listserv and Blog testing procedure
  • File Saving (Electronic) Procedure
  • Back Up Procedure
  • Reimbursement Procedure
  • Accounting Procedures
  • Invoice creation procedure
  • Procedure for communications with outside world
  • New Hire Procedure
  • Procedure for new board member
  • Emergency/Evacuation Procedure
  • Fundraising Filing Procedure
  • Human Resource/Personnel Filing Procedure
  • Events Procedures

Here are my disclaimers.

1. An operations manual is always a work in progress. So we are constantly creating, editing, and adding new procedures and policies for how we run our organization.

2. I do not claim to be an expert in creating an Operations Manual. I learn as I go and it would be great to learn about what other organizations are doing. Please share about your operations manual. What specific sections do you have?

Gunner and the Aspiration team have been an incredible inspiration and resource for us at OpenNews. Their guidance and feedback have shaped everything from how support relationship building amongst cohorts to planning goal-oriented meetings where participants leave with a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of purpose.

Erika Owens, OpenNews
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