Help Desk FAQ: A Policy Checklist for Nonprofits

Posted By: Molly O'Connell Nonprofit Management,

Organizations often reach out to MANP asking what policies they should have in place. Here's a quick run-down of the basics.


While not explicitly required, IRS Form 990 asks if the organization has the following in place, so it's a good idea to be able to say yes!

  • Conflict of Interest Policy (ideally includes an annual disclosure process by all board members)
  • Whistleblower Protection Policy
  • Document Retention and Destruction Policy

Plus, you'll want the following in place to comply with accounting standards and labor laws:

  • Finance policies, outlining internal controls, spending limits, signing authority, capitalization policy, etc.
  • Sexual Harrassment Policy
  • [if you have employees]
    • Compensation policy/philosophy, and in particular a defined process for setting executive compensation (which the IRS also asks about on Form 990)
    • An employee handbook detailing personnel policies - the policies/topics that fit into this category are far-reaching and to ensure compliance with Maine and federal laws, we recommend working with someone who has employment law expertise
    • Equal Employment / Equitable Hiring Policy

Consider Adding

While this is not a comprehensive list of policies organizations could consider, many organizations find it helpful to prioritize formalizing the following in order to ensure consistent and transparent practice:

  • Gift Acceptance Policy
  • Website Privacy Policy 
  • Confidentiality Policy / Donor/Client Privacy Policy
  • Crisis Communications Policy
  • Investment Policy (if you have investments)

Resources for Developing Policies

Samples/templates/tips for all of the above can be found in our free, searchable Resource Library, and the following are additional sources for reliable information:

  • Your attorney - we recommend consulting legal experts when crafting organizational policies to ensure they are appropriate to Maine law and to your particular organization's circumstances. MANP's free, searchable Business Finder includes attorneys with experience working with nonprofits. 
  • Nonprofit Risk Management Center offers a "My Risk Policies" service - through MANP's affiliate membership, our members receive the discounted rate on a large collection of sample resources and templates.
  • The UST HR Workplace is a subscription-based online platform with sample policies, a handbook builder, and more. Free trial available and MANP members receive discounts on a subscription.