These days, starting a small business can be a bit easy. First off, you need to conduct in-depth market research to determine if there is an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. Afterward, you are to write a business plan, fund your business, and so on.
However, when it comes to starting a nonprofit, you may face several challenges. Why? Because a nonprofit is quite different from a business. A business is run with the profit made. A nonprofit relies on donations. Aside from that, there is also the issue of staffing. How do you make people join your cause? How do you build a strong team knowing fully well that there is no incentive to entice them?
If you want to start a nonprofit that ends up being successful, you’ll have to consider these things and some other few things we will highlight below. However, before we delve into these factors, let’s look at what a nonprofit is.
What is a nonprofit?
A nonprofit is an organization established to help humankind and not generate money for its owners. In other words—unlike a business—the goal of a nonprofit isn’t to make money for its owners. Instead, its goal is to enhance the quality of life for others at a community, local, state, national, or even global level.
Since a nonprofit isn’t like the typical for-profit organization we are very conversant about, you’ll need to consider some essential things before starting one. Doing so will ensure that your nonprofit doesn’t end up crashing a few months or even weeks after takeoff.
Here are some of the things you need to put into consideration.
- The uniqueness of your nonprofit
So while meditating one cool afternoon, the idea hits. You jump up, grab your notepad and scribble it down. Yay! You have gotten the final piece of the puzzle. After several days of thinking, you have finally figured out the issue your potential nonprofit will address. The next day, you kick-start plans to establish the nonprofit.
While starting a nonprofit remains a commendable act, you should take things slow. What do we mean? If you want to start a nonprofit that ends up being successful, you need to carve out a niche for yourself. Don’t let the passion and drive push you into doing things without thinking them through.
You have figured out the issue your potential nonprofit will address, so what next? Rather than proceed with your plan, why don’t you see if someone is doing something similar. For example, you don’t want to create a nonprofit that caters to refugees in your community when there are already three nonprofits set up for such a cause.
Rather than establish a third nonprofit that addresses a similar issue, It makes sense to collaborate with already-established organizations as they already have a working system in place. If you like, you can work with them as a volunteer or even a Board member.
- Board members
Here is one of the most important things you need to consider before starting a nonprofit. Your board members can either be a blessing to your nonprofit or a curse. In light of this, finding board members who share the same passion as you should be a top priority.
Figure out the number of board members you need, and remember that an odd number of board members will prevent vote ties. Also, ensure that whoever you choose is willing and able to commit the time required to establish the organization. For example, if the nonprofit exists only, in theory, the board will have to apply for tax-exempt status and probably incorporate the organization.
Hold meetings regularly with board members to figure out how to recruit volunteers, solicit funds, and other essential matters. Ensure that every member of the board is assigned a task.
- The name of your nonprofit
Of course, you’ll have to choose a name for your nonprofit for identification purposes. While this may seem easy, you must understand that there are a few factors to consider when selecting a name for your organization.
First off, you need to ensure that the name is unique; it shouldn’t be used by any other organization. Secondly, it makes sense to use a name that is precise in its description and easy to recall. You don’t want to use a name that is hard to remember or pronounce, as it might not stick to the memory of potential stakeholders or your audience.
Furthermore, the name of your nonprofit should incorporate your mission. And don’t be scared to use strong, powerful words.
- Your mission statement
Before establishing a business, you must draft an effective mission statement that covers the aims and values of the company. While a nonprofit isn’t a business per se, you are still required to draft a mission statement to provide volunteers, stakeholders, and contributors with an insight into why the organizations exist.
Your mission statement should cover your nonprofit’s purpose, what it does, who it serves, and where it provides its services. Remember to always keep your mission statement short. But that doesn’t mean you should leave out important details. Who knows? Your mission statement might end up being used in published materials, your website, and elsewhere.
While a nonprofit isn’t set up to generate funds for its owners, it needs money to operate. Funds in this context can be likened to the fuel of a car. Once it isn’t available, the nonprofit will break down. If you are passionate about your nonprofit, you won’t let this happen.
Before establishing a nonprofit, you’ll need to rack your brain for ideas on how to bring in funds from donors. While there are several ways to do that, finding the perfect strategy that works is key to the organization’s smooth operation.
Popular ways to raise funds are:
- Solicitation through mail
- Charity auctions
- Social media and direct mail
- In-person and online events
You can also appeal to the charitable giving arms of prominent corporations, who can request that their staff provide donations. Furthermore, nonprofits can get local, state, and national government-based grants in some situations.
The idea to start a nonprofit is often driven by intense passion. While this is pretty good, allowing the passion to overwhelm you might result in you rushing things up. Once the idea hits, sit down, relax and think. Talk to someone with good insights on what it takes to start a nonprofit. Share the idea with close family and friends to get feedback and recommendations. Afterward, you can consider the points stated above.