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Organizing Your Business Documents

Ever needed to present a document to get a loan, grant, or partnership? Ever had to presents document in a short timeframe and no matter how hard you looked you just could not find it? That’s because you don’t have a corporate binder.

The corporate binder is where you keep all the important documents necessary for running your business, social enterprise, and nonprofit organization to stay compliant and effective. Setting up a corporate binder is pretty simple, but it requires meticulous maintenance to keep it up-to-date. It is a record of all your legal documents, minutes, and other organizational and operational documents.

This binder can be created physically in a three-ringed binder or digitally using a file on your computer. My suggestions are that you keep both as a back-up plan. You can never be too safe.

Usually, one binder is too much for all the documents your company should be keeping records of on a regularly. I prefer to break the binder done into categories that fit together. Here is a list of the Tabs that your binders should have and what should be contained in those areas.

Tab 1: Organizational/Operational Calendar

Organizational/Operational Calendar

☐ Assign someone to keep it up-to-date.

☐ Find out when Annual Returns are due and note the dates.

☐ Responsible party for filing Annual Returns.

☐ Any significant dates that affect the operation of your business

☐ Make sure you have included key dates relating to your organization's contracts.

Tab 2: Key Contacts

Key Contacts

☐ Create a list of key contacts for your business.

☐ Assign someone to keep it up-to-date/Update after someone leaves.

☐ List of Employee and Board Member Resumes

☐ Business Lawyer contact information

☐ CPA, Bookkeeper, Accountant

☐ Board Members and /or Advisory Board

☐ Contact Information of Collaborators and Partners

☐ Banker

☐ Building Manager/Superintendent (if renting)

☐ Emergency Services

Tab 3: Legal Documents

Legal Documents

☐ Articles of Organization or Incorporation

☐ Operating Agreement

☐ Collaboration Agreement

☐ Non-disclosure agreement

☐ Transactional Documents

☐ Employment Contracts/Agreements

☐ Contracting & Subcontracting Agreements

☐ Marketing Agreements

☐ Business Plan

☐ Strategic Plan

☐ Determination Letter (IRS) (nonprofits)

☐ EIN Documents

☐ Conflict of Interest Documentation

☐ Shareholder Agreement (if applicable)

Tab 4: Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures

☐ Employee Handbook

☐ Welcome Packets Employees, Contractors, Sub-Contractors, Remote Workers

☐ Job Descriptions

☐ Review your policies yearly at the first Board meeting after the Annual General Meeting.

Tab 5: Meetings Minutes


☐ Get a copy of the last two years’ minutes. Even if you do not have a Board of Director’s or an Advisory Board, it is good practice to take minutes during formal staff meetings.

· Note key issues.

· Note the issues that are still open.

☐ Make a note of any deadlines or other important dates in your Organizational Calendar.

☐ Other special meetings that were held.

· Note the issues that were raised.

· Note the matters that still need to be dealt with.

☐ Make a note of any deadlines or other important dates in your Organizational/Operational Calendar.

Tab 6: Agenda and Minutes for Staff

☐ Agenda

☐ Issues

☐ Resolution

Tab 7: Agenda and Minutes for Subcontractors & Contractors

☐ Agenda

☐ Issues

☐ Resolution

Tab 8: Agenda and Minutes for Partners

☐ Agenda

☐ Issues

☐ Resolution

Tab 9: Financial Affairs


☐ Copy financial signing authority to specific individuals.

☐ Names of those people on the Key Contacts directory with financial power from Tab 2.

☐ Get a copy of the budgets and financial reports for the last two years.

· Major sources of revenue.

· Major expenses.

· Company’s debts.

☐ Make a note of any deadlines or other important dates in your Calendar.

☐ Some of the documents you should have:

o Bank and credit card statements

o Cards for employees (if applicable)

o Expense accounts for employees (if applicable)

o Approving contracts

o Independent Audit Reports

o Major Contracts Accounting Records

o Copies of Form IRS Filing Documents

o Loan Documents

o Grant and Fundraising Documentation

o Quarterly or Yearly P & L Statements

Tab 10: Contracts

Contracts, Grant or Operating Agreements, Leases

☐ Get a copy of any current contracts, grant agreements, and leases your organization has signed and read them.

☐ Make a note of any deadlines, update, and renewals and add them to your Calendar.

☐ Copy of the contracts, grant agreements, and leases.

Tab 11: Proposals and Grants

☐ Copy of grant proposals.

☐ Copy of grant award documents.

☐ Copy of government contract proposals/bids.

☐ Copy of corporate proposals.

☐ Copy of all award letters.

Tab 12: Leases and Rentals

☐ Copy all rent and leases agreements.

☐ Copy copies of all payment receipts.

Tab 13: Insurance


☐ Copy of your Directors and Officers Liability insurance policy (if applicable).

☐ Copy of errors and omissions and general liability.

☐ Copy of workman’s compensation.

☐ Make a note of any deadlines or renewal dates and add them to your Calendar.

Tab 14: Miscellaneous

☐ Anything that you are not sure where it fits but it involves power, money, or a major organizational decision.

Best Practices for Organizing the Binder: The best way to organize this binder is in chronological order. Place documents in the binder with the new documents on top and the older ones on the bottom. Also, use index tabs to help you find what you are looking for quickly.

If the information is organized and kept current, then you will have no trouble producing them for an audit or grant application.

That’s it! Your corporate binder in a nutshell. Remember if you get organized you will always be ready!

To learn more about running a highly successful nonprofit organization, go on over to TVA Academy and take one of my many courses to fill the knowledge gap.

Strategically Yours,

Tracy V. Allen

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