How to Start a Successful Nonprofit Organization

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“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

-Maya Angelou

In this dog-eat-dog world, it’s only natural to want to do more for the underdogs and less fortunate. After all, it’s human nature to be sympathetic, compassionate and giving. It’s how – even in this random world – we were raised and taught. However, not everyone adheres to the law of kindness and justice. So, what do you do when you see so much pain, hunger and inequality in this world? Are you going to watch humanity crumble, or are you going to get up and do something about it?

How to Start a Successful Nonprofit Organization

Yes, we figured you’d want to do something about it. But the question is, how and where do you start? What can you do? How do you do it? How can you ‘be the change you want to see in the world?’

Well, worry not, for we are here to guide you.

Why not start a nonprofit organization? This way, you will help people, spread awareness, and allow volunteers to take part in doing something good for the community or your cause.

To operate your nonprofit successfully, you’d need to have the understanding of what drives social change, the benchmarks of sustainable programs, pathways to resources, and the tools of measurement and evaluation.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Following are the steps to start a successful nonprofit organization:

1. Do your Research:

By now, you must’ve already had a cause in mind. The next step is to do thorough research on everything you’d be needing along the way, such as the cost and time you’d need to start your operations. You’d also need to know just how many people you’d be needing to help you in successfully running the organization. Consider, if this particular organization is what your community needs at the moment and from where you’d get the funding. Without thorough research, your organization will only go so far.

2. Build a Solid Foundation:

Next, you’d need to clearly understand the cause and have a solid vision to ensure that the organization functions smoothly and firmly. Without a bulletproof mission, you will have more on your plates than you can handle. Start by choosing the perfect name that catches the community’s attention, preferably something in trend and catchy. Jot down the reasons as to why this cause needs the organization and come up with various solutions to rectify the problem. You’d need a concrete vision statement such as ‘
Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live or feed America: A hunger-free America’.

3. Have a Concrete Business Plan:

Before hiring employees or volunteers, we recommend that you first figure out just how many employees you will be needing and can employ with your budget. Depending on your cause, estimate how many people will be needing help and how many people you’d need to give that help. This way, you will have a proper routine and schedule, the perfect blueprint for your nonprofit organization. You’d need to have appropriate marketing and operational plans, executive summary, financial and product requirement plans, among others.

4. Choose the Right Leaders:

You will need to create a leadership structure for the success of your mission. We highly recommend that you choose partners who are compassionate, motivated and have passion for the cause. Their hearts need to be at the right place for the mission to have a desirable outcome. They need to have good soft skills such as communication skills, interpersonal skills, patience and understanding. You’d need partners to hire the right board members, staff and even volunteers.

Learn how to scale-up community-driven change that is inclusive and sustainable with a hands-on program for innovative nonprofit managers. An advanced degree in community development or nonprofit management will equip yourself with leadership skills that are vital to growing your nonprofit organisation.

5. Start the Branding Process:

Depending on your target audience, ensure that your logo, organization colours, and graphic designs are eye-catching, memorable and relatable to the cause.

6. Take Care of the Legal Matters:

You’d need to legally incorporate your nonprofit organization and file incorporation paperwork, apply for tax exemption and acquire the right license. You might want to hire a professional to help you with the legal work.

7. Have a Startup Funding:

Of course, this will be a tricky and challenging task. But, without enough funding, you will not be able to reach the goal you’ve set for the mission. Start applying for grants once you have completed the previous steps. To get the grant, you will need to write a compelling grant proposal. So, pour your heart and soul into the words you jot down and provide all the necessary details the grantmaker will need to know, such as your mission statement and how much you will need, among other things.

8. Set up an Office:

You will need a space where you will be able to operate freely and well, an address where you will be able to receive mail. Find a place where employees and volunteers can do their work. But, do it according to your budget. You could also just reserve a P.O.Box to receive your mails.

9. Start Building your Network:

In this digital age, every organization’s success depends on branding and reach. You’d need to start educating people about your mission once you have everything in place. Make your online presence known by launching your website with detailed information and join various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to gain a wider reach.

  • Be active and interactive.
  • Write and share moving blogs and articles.
  • Connect with people and organizations who share your values and mission.
  • Join communities and discussion groups.

And voila! You’ve got yourself a nonprofit organization to help those in need. Now, you will have to start asking for donations – be it individual donations, corporate sponsorship or grants – and have strategic plans in place such as filing the required forms such as the 990 Form with the IRS annually or pay taxes on time to ensure that your mission is not interrupted.

We will leave you here with our best wishes.

Good luck!

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