So you feel an internal “calling” to start a nonprofit. That’s wonderful! The world needs more people in it like you to give back. Before you get too ahead of yourself, though, it’s important to consider several things prior to moving forward with your newfound mission to make the world a better place.
Ask Yourself Why
What problem are you trying to solve? Is there a need in your local community that needs to be met that no one is fulfilling? How passionate are you in wanting to solve this problem? Are you willing to take the risk and leave your current career or job? If you don’t know how to answer many of these questions, you might not be ready to start a nonprofit.
Take Time To Research
You’ll need to find out if there are other organizations that are already doing what you want to do. It doesn’t matter if they’re a nonprofit, for-profit, or a governmental program. You need to research the space you want to get into. Consider how hard it might be to get support if you’re planning to do what others have already been doing without first figuring out a way to separate yourself from the rest.
Draft Your Program Or Business Plan
Your program or business plan should be worked on and developed with those in your founding group. You’ll need to discuss your nonprofit vision and mission statement, your problem statement (remember, what problem are you trying to solve?), how you’ll reach your mission and vision, your budget, and the resources you need to get it all done.
Lots Of Paperwork
There is a ton of paperwork to complete when you are ready to register your nonprofit. For starters, be sure to apply for exempt status with the IRS. User fees can be as high as $850, and it can take up to 12 months for the IRS to return its decision, depending on how many questions they have about your application. You’ll also need to register with your state’s agency that regulates charitable organizations. This is usually the Attorney General.
Develop Your Elevator Pitch
The idea behind an elevator pitch is to have a one to two-minute pitch about what your organization will be about so you can clearly articulate why you are starting a nonprofit. The easier you can articulate this, the more attractive you and your nonprofit will be to prospective donors and supporters.
Who Will Work With You?
At some point, and you likely have already pondered this, you’ll need to consider who’ll be on your Board of Directors. The board will serve as the governing body of your nonprofit, and the people appointed should be full of energy, wisdom, and experience. They should also have some previous history with fundraising. You’ll also need employees and volunteers to help you run the day-to-day operations of your nonprofit. Who will they be?
Once you’ve carefully considered all of the above (which by no means is meant to be a comprehensive list) you should be ready to roll up your sleeves and make a difference in the world. Best of luck to you!