Starting a nonprofit organization can be a very exciting endeavor, but one that requires a lot of planning. Many people want to develop an organization to make the world a better place; but it is a risky road to take. Although you're not starting out with the intention to get rich, it is still important that you set yourself up for success.
Not just anyone can start a nonprofit organization. You really need to begin with the right attitude, financial backing, and dedication. Your goal is essentially to give as much as you can, and for little financial reward, if any. So before quitting your full time job in the hopes of opening a small nonprofit start up, ask yourself the following:
1. Are you committed? It takes more than just a good idea to launch a non-profit. It takes time, money and hard work.
2. If applicable, do you have the right partners? Vet potential collaborators as objectively as possible.
3. Have you done your research to make sure there's demand for your service? How will you pitch your idea to the folks with the funding?
Get licensed before starting a charityNon-profit organizations are legally required to obtain certain government licenses. Your state may regulate a nonprofit startup through permits, zoning and land use permits, and a business name certificate. Regulations vary from state to state, especially in regards to taxes and your role as a nonprofit. There are online resources that can assist in the filing of these documents.
Business.gov can help you obtain the necessary federal, state and local permits, licenses, and registrations for starting your non-profit successfully. FindLaw provides a useful checklist of all the documentation necessary for your non-profit.
Join an association to build credibility when starting a non-profitAs a non-profit organizer, you don't have to go it completely alone. Consider joining an industry association for support. Organizations bring together professionals with the same goals and challenges. As a member you'll have access to certification and educational opportunities, in addition to networking events.
The Society for Nonprofit Organizations and the the National Council of Nonprofit Associations both organize events for educational and networking opportunities. They also offer access to publications and other tools to assist you towards success.
Partner with reliable employees when launching a nonprofit organizationAs a non-profit organizer, it's imperative that you partner with employees who can help grow your organization. Your employees must be reliable, accommodating and thorough. You want to build a long-term relationship with your staff, and they must also share your desire to serve.
The NonProfit Times offers employers job posting packages and access to a resume searching database, in addition to a customer service section. The Nonprofit Jobs Cooporative provides free access to employers for posting jobs.
- When you first open a non-profit start up, you may decide to balance your own finances. But as your business grows, consider partnering with an accountant who can help you with tax issues, and help you build a financially sound organization.