Document Templates: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel (Or Contract)
A client asked me recently if I had some sample documents or templates they could use to create a hire letter for new employees and a contract they could use with independent contractors who didn’t have one of their own.
A hire letter is an important document that goes in each employee’s file. It states the employee’s start date, rate of pay, whether and when the person is eligible for benefits, the position they’ve been offered, and many other terms of employment.
When your organization engages a contractor, it’s a great idea to document the understanding you’ve reached in a written contract. You can include the rate and terms of compensation, the scope of work, any deliverables, the length of the contract, and other legal language that my not vary with the nature of the work – boilerplate language.
Of course , non-profit organizations need a wide range of legal documents beyond employment contractor agreements. Just to get started you’ll need by-laws and more. Staring at a computer, trying to draft these kinds of documents can be terrifying. Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch.
I had to tell my client I didn’t have templates or sample documents. I don’t keep these because there are good sources on available on the internet – many at no cost.
Essential Document Templates Available Online
Here are my top three choices for websites to visit if you need to create documents for your organization.
Rocket Lawyer offers a free trial for a week and a monthly membership plan after that. You can create legal documents by entering the information specific to your situation (for example, the name of a contractor and the terms of your agreement). Their software uses that information to fill in the blanks on their forms, and you can print them out once you sign up for a membership plan.
Find Legal Forms
Find Legal Forms offers groups of forms by state and by area of interest. For example, there’s a package of 13 employment forms for $39.95.
The Nonprofit Resource Center
The Nonprofit Resource Center offers a lot of information specific to not-for-profit organizations. Click on Models, Samples and Templates and you’ll see a list of eight topic areas, including board job description samples, financial policies and procedures samples, and governance policies and procedures samples, to name three. Some of the documents have been provided by other organizations – all of them are available at no cost.
Carefully Review and Customize Template Documents
Once you have a sample or a template, it is much easier to create a document specific to your organization or to the agreement at hand than it is if you have to start from a blank screen. Still, proceed carefully. In the end, your document should state clearly and explicitly the arrangement you have agreed to. Don’t make your agreement hard to discern by obscuring it behind unclear language or overly legalistic phrases. The contract, hire letter, job description or whatever you’ve written should serve you as a place you can go to answer questions or clarify issues after the freshness of the arrangement has worn off. Ideally, it will prevent misunderstandings and help all parties enjoy a beneficial and fruitful professional relationship.