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  • Writer's pictureJena

Starting a NonProfit Organization

Photo: Kindel Media

Sometimes we see a problem in our society and we decide to take action. That action may be a donation to a nonprofit organization or spending some volunteer hours doing work in the community. For some people, taking action means creating their own nonprofit organization to serve their community. Are you interested in starting a nonprofit? Read below for tips on getting started.

Guide to Starting a Nonprofit Organization

1. Understand what running a nonprofit requires

Starting a nonprofit isn't easy- just like with any organization or business, running a nonprofit takes time, energy, and dedication. Understanding the commitment you are making is the first step in getting your nonprofit off the ground. Do some research on different nonprofits and learn about their founders. This can give you insight into what it takes to start and maintain an organization.

2. Decide how your nonprofit will serve the community

What are you passionate about? Where have you noticed a need? Have you noticed a lot of homeless people who need assistance? Are you trying to find a way to make sure every child in your community has food to eat? Maybe you want to start a music or arts program for local students. Whatever cause you are dedicated to, write it down and figure out ways you and your organization can help.

Also determine if other nonprofits in your area are doing the same thing. If so, you might find a way of working with that organization instead of starting your own.

3. Get organized

Choose a name, choose a mission statement, and start planning! There are many websites and local business counselors that can help with crafting a business plan for your nonprofit.

4. Get all the paperwork in order

Just like starting a business, a nonprofit requires you to submit documents. File for incorporation, get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and file for 501(c)(3) tax exemption.

5. Find your board

Starting a nonprofit is a big undertaking and it helps to have a team who can help you. Do you know some like-minded people who have talents that will be useful to your organization? Choose people who are dependable and dedicated to your organization's mission, professionals who are team players and are ready to put in some hard work.

6. Create ties within your community

Every nonprofit needs support and a great way to start getting that support is by networking and partnering with other organizations in your community. Get the word out about what you're doing what your organization is trying to achieve.

7. Learn about grant-writing and fundraising

Nonprofits may not profit, but they do require money to run, just like any other organization. You'll need money for your mission, money for community outreach, and funds to pay your workers a salary, among other line items. Create a budget and learn about funding opportunities for your type of nonprofit. You might write grants and you might accept donations from the public. Grant writers are very valuable to nonprofit organizations. If you are interested in writing grants yourself but don't know how, check out some grant-writing books. There are also grant-writing courses that can be helpful.

We are lucky to live in a time where there is so much information available, whether this information comes in the form of books or online tutorials and courses. If there is anything you and your team would like to learn to help your organization, there's a strong chance the information is out there.

8. Hang in there

Just as with any venture, forming a nonprofit and (keeping it going) requires a lot of determination. But with focus, planning, and dedication to your cause, you will be able to successfully run your organization and make a difference in your community.

Need some inspiration? I did a podcast interview with a nonprofit in DC called Art Enables and their dedication to the artistic community and to their mission was very inspiring. Check the interview out here:

Photo: Rodnae Productions


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