Nonprofit organizations are a great way to give back to your community and help those who need it the most. However, because of the very nature of nonprofits, you’re essentially giving away money and resources for virtually little to no reward. But if it’s for a good cause, the act itself is often its own reward. Before you commit to the idea, here are some steps that you should take when creating a nonprofit organization for the first time:
Draft your mission statement
Of course, the question you have to ask yourself first is, who is this for? Who in your community stands to benefit the most out of your nonprofit? Your mission statement should encompass everything from why you decided to create the nonprofit, who you serve, and how you serve your chosen community. There are all sorts of nonprofits that benefit different communities. While you can most definitely cater to a large and common community, you might also want to consider catering to a more niche community that doesn’t get a lot of help or awareness.
When thinking about who you serve, make sure that it’s a community that you personally know and care about deeply. Don’t pick a community just for the sake of picking one. Creating a nonprofit for a community that you care about ensures that you feel passionate about this project and are willing to commit to it. Your chosen community will also decide what you spend most of your funding on. For example, a nonprofit that builds homes and shelters for the homeless would have to invest in construction equipment for sale and construction supplies. So keep your budget in mind as well.
Your mission should be something that your nonprofit stands by and strives for. Your mission statement is incredibly important because it’s what your organization is going to be known for from now on and what’ll appear on your website or on any written documents and articles.
Once you’ve decided on a mission statement, now comes one of the hardest parts of starting a nonprofit — securing funding. Obviously, as a nonprofit, you aren’t getting any monetary compensation for any of the programs and outreaches you conduct. It’s for the sole benefit of your community. But you can’t run an organization without funding and there are ways you can secure that without having to charge for everything that you do.
Other than making sure that you can keep your nonprofit running, you need funding to buy supplies, pay rent for your workspace, or construct your organization’s facilities.
One way to do this is by applying for a grant. You can browse through sites like Grants.gov to help you find the right grant for your nonprofit. Other ways to secure funding are through fundraisers, sponsors, and donations. It might be best to look for big corporate sponsorship and donations if you plan to have a large budget. Just be sure to let any donors know that their money is going to a good cause and make good use out of the money you earn.
Build your team
Next after funding, you want to have a capable and dependable team behind you to help get your nonprofit off the ground. You want to find people who are both knowledgeable and passionate about your cause. Most of the time, nonprofits get volunteers instead of actual employees. In addition to that, you might also need a board of directors.
Having an executive director or a board of directors can help give your nonprofit more direction and organization and can also help with funding. You should also consider partnering up with an existing nonprofit, not only to build connections but to secure more funding and support.
Create a business plan
And speaking of organization, having a business plan as early as possible can help to benefit and shape your nonprofit’s management. Just like any other business, your nonprofit needs to have a plan so people know where it’s headed, what goal you’re trying to achieve, and how to feasibly achieve it with your current budget and setup.
Having a business plan can help you secure more funding too, as potential sponsors might be more inclined to lend their support when they see that you have a clear plan and vision for your nonprofit, so they feel reassured that their money isn’t being wasted. The more detailed and specific your business plan is, the better.
Register your nonprofit
So you got everything — a clear mission statement, substantial funding, a good team behind you, and a detailed business plan. Now it’s time to register your nonprofit and make it all official! Getting your nonprofit recognized in the state you operate in gives you plenty of benefits, especially tax exemptions. By law, nonprofits are exempted from taxes considering that they earn virtually nothing in exchange for a public benefit. Just be sure to stay within the guidelines of your state office and avoid doing anything that could revoke your tax-exempt benefit.
And there you have it, the 5 main steps you need to be aware of when starting your nonprofit. By all means, don’t let this deter you from creating one. A nonprofit organization dedicated to a good cause is always welcome and if you feel passionate enough about it, no doubt you can still find ways to succeed.