If you’re thinking about starting a nonprofit, first of all, way to go! Nonprofits can be challenging and sometimes thankless, but they can also do an inordinate amount of good. As the year winds to a close, people often start feeling more charitable and start thinking about what good they can do with the new year. If this is you, here are some handy tips on starting a nonprofit in your community.
Make Sure to Do Research
With any organization or business, it’s important to do research and understand what it is you’re talking about. Understand the people who you will be helping. Understand the people who you will be appealing to for donations. Make sure to have a firm understanding of, not only your goals but how realistic your goals are and how they can actually help people.
Write a Mission Statement
A well-thought-out mission statement can take your broad charitable purpose and refine it. It identifies your goals and objectives. It will help you be more articulate when describing what your organization does and why. Read the mission statements of other nonprofits and other for-profits as well to get an idea of what type of language you should be using.
Consider the Disadvantages and Challenges
Not to be a killjoy, but starting a nonprofit and running it year after year is hard. Or else everyone would do it! Understand from the beginning that you’ll have to contend with:
- Not always having the time, money, or resources to accomplish what you want to
- Needing to maintain your status and paperwork on a regular basis
- People who doubt your goals or that your money is going to where you say it will
- Lack of investors since they know they won’t be getting a profit
- Volunteers who may not be as gung-ho as you are
- Difficulty getting your projects and goals funded
- The stress and overwork that comes with balancing a nonprofit with the rest of your life
You can definitely overcome these challenges – many people do with their own nonprofits! But make sure you start your nonprofit with these challenges in mind and ideas of how to combat them.
Look Into the Process of Applying for a 501c3
Having tax-exempt status with the IRS is very important. But it can also be a complicated and lengthy process. You may want to do research into finding someone who either helps nonprofit with this type of paperwork or someone who has gone through this process already. Starting a nonprofit does mean a lot of paperwork, but you don’t have to do it alone. Before you actually start, learn about what the process is so you can be prepared.
Have Some Money Raised Before Launching
Easier said than done! There will be startup costs to starting a nonprofit, no matter what. You’ll need to advertise. You’ll need to host events. You’ll need a website! Even though you aren’t paying employees and things like that, you will need to spend money to raise money. You may want to save up the money yourself or start light fundraising/crowdfunding before you even start making your first moves.
Compile a Board of Diverse People
Starting a nonprofit is not something you should embark on alone. Talk to, get to know, and make connections with like-minded people. They can be family, friends, coworkers, or professional connections. By diverse, they should come from as many different backgrounds and skillsets as possible. You want people who know things and who can do things that you can’t in order to make the organization stronger.