Table of Contents

From the Author 

Why I should listen to Marilynn Boyko?


Laying the Foundation 


Sources of Funding    

Building the Structure


Service Delivery Documentation

Community Visibility   

Donations and Contributions    

Finishing Touches 


Operation Costs

Board of Directors Contributions/Meetings  

Small grants from local corporations, businesses, etc 

Board driven fund raising events/small fund raising events  

Creation of solid donor list   

Creation of Accomplishment list

Creation of fund raising package   

Three year demonstration of effective service delivery    

Grant applications 

Checklist/To Do List 



I was initially impressed with Marilynn Boyko’s enthusiasm, communication skills and professional demeanor when I hired her 7 years ago as a consultant and to assist our organization with applying for Federal Tax Exempt Status (501 (c) 3). Within 6 weeks we received federal tax-exempt status and have remained in compliance, thanks to Marilynn.  Marilynn is reliable, dedicated and she consistently meets or surpasses all expectations of any professional organization. Her writing skills are a gift—we call her “twinkle nose”.. the words seems to flow effortlessly and yet they are powerful and effective, especially when utilized for grant writing, etc. Marilynn is a hardworking, top-performing professional.  

Alicia Hollins, The Eight  


     Marilynn Boyko is a "Dream Maker". Her brilliance has helped me to realize my dreams and move things forward in my life, her no nonsense, professional approach to everything that she does builds confidence and trust in her clients. Her writing skills are second to none. Glad I was referred to her.    

Denoval Harkins, Through Books, Inc.  


     Marilynn's ability to communicate directly and effectively has taught me how to reach potential clients in a way that best serves them. Before working with Marilynn my business goals lacked the detail necessary for business success. She has introduced me to techniques and tools I'd never thought about applying in the world of business. Her guidance, support and experience have prepared me for the next level.    

Tann Moore, Power and Purpose Productions, Inc.

About the Author

This guide was written to provide the leader(s) of a non-profit a blue print for establishing a successful organization. It is my hope that it will serve as a guide and checkpoint for not only the leader and executive director, but also for the board and committee chairpersons. In recent years, it’s been alarming that more than 275,000 non-profits have lost their tax exemption. It has been my experience that many of these organizations never really got off the ground.     

I’ve found that when the 501 is secured, there are many expectations. However, building an organization can be compared to building a home. In building anything, there is a process to be followed. Before a foundation can be laid, there must be ditches dug to lay the foundation according to the plan of the builder and architect. I liken securing tax exempt status to digging the ditch before the cement can be poured. Then the founder and the board have to pour the cement, and build the key points of the structure. So many times people want to hang curtains, and there are no walls. It’s best to not move too fast or get ahead of the process. 


All of the above points to the simple fact that all of this is a process. Laying the foundation opens up the promise of what the organization can accomplish. However, a process of building, honing, developing is necessary in order to realize the promise. The promise will not be realized without the process.  


What I’ve compiled in my more than 20 years’ experience is a step-by-step handbook on the process. And one more thought, you won’t fail if you don’t quit, but be realistic in what you want to achieve. Lay a good foundation and then build a strong structure.   


The information contained in this document has been garnered from more than 20 years’ experience. It has been created to serve as a guideline. There will always be exceptions to the rule; however, for any builder, architect, carpenter, or other construction professionals, there are certain basic guidelines in building a sound, stable structure. As a non-profit leader, that is your charge. To build a sound, stable structure, that will endure, serve, change lives, and become a part of your legacy.

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In beginning-start small, but start smart.  

What this means is record everything. 

Every service that is provided.  

Every donation received.  

Every accomplishment!  

  • Use Sign-in sheets, evaluation sheets.  
  • All workshops and seminars should have evaluation forms at the end. 
  • Every meeting, every consult, has to be documented.  
  • Keep your day job while you get the organization on solid ground.  
  • Does this really need to be a non-profit?


If it’s not written it didn’t happen.  

If it’s not documented than there can be no demonstration of success.  

The documentation of success is what will generate support and funds.