Amos Faulkner – Build a Nonprofit From The Ground Up encourages dreamers to follow their passions. Here’s what Faulkner has to share:
Launching a nonprofit is arguably one of the best ways to use your skills and expertise for the good of others. A nonprofit organization is a business organization that centers around helping people instead of bringing a profit. Yes, you must be able to raise money and manage it well, but your primary focus will be to serve the public interest.
If you have a genuine desire to positively impact your community and beyond, few things will be as fulfilling as running a nonprofit. But there’s nothing simple about getting an organization off the ground and positioning it for success. You must be prepared to dedicate yourself to hard work, perseverance, critical thinking, and patience.
Taking a methodical approach to setting up your nonprofit can make your experience less overwhelming. That’s why I’ve taken a minute to break down the process into six steps:
Step 1 – Confirm Your “Why”
Your first step is to determine precisely why you need to start a nonprofit organization. Consider the demographic or population you want to serve, and determine specific needs your organization needs to meet. Also, identify any other organizations that are already serving those needs, and consider all the alternatives to launching your own nonprofit. This could include joining an existing nonprofit, launching a donor-advised fund, consulting other organizations, etc.
Further, think through your mission and confirm that it will add genuine value and solve specific problems. Considering the benefits and drawbacks of launching a registered nonprofit, is it the best path for accomplishing your vision? Is moving forward with your nonprofit formation the best way forward?
Step 2 – Set a Plan in Stone
After confirming you need to follow through on your desire to start a nonprofit organization, it’s time to lay a firm foundation. You will struggle to gain ground without a clear vision and a solid foundation.
Start by selecting a name for your nonprofit; brainstorm with your team and other people in your network to land on a name that is inspiring, memorable, and related to your mission. Then, draft a thorough and empowering mission statement. This statement will reveal what your organization is all about, and it should be clear, simple, and thorough. Your mission statement should also foster transparency and welcome input from anyone who wants to get involved.
After choosing a name and crafting your mission statement, turn your nonprofit idea into a detailed business plan. This document will outline your nonprofit’s goals and strategies. It will create the necessary structure for your team to make crucial decisions and strategize your operations for the first several years. Here are a few things to include in your business plan:
Besides serving as an organizational roadmap, your business plan is essential for securing funding for your nonprofit. Dedicate the necessary time and energy to ensuring it stands out.
Step 3 – Start Forming Your Identity
Every organization needs a strong identity that helps gain the attention and traction necessary to accomplish its mission. Choosing a memorable name will get you off to a strong start, but you also need to surround that name with effective branding.
Begin with your nonprofit’s visual identity. Design an appealing logo that matches your name and mission and leaves a lasting impression. Instead of hiring a graphic designer, consider going with a free-to-use online logo maker. With this kind of tool, you simply choose from a library of styles and icons and customize your logo with any text, fonts, and colors you wish.
After establishing the logo, outline the typography, imagery, colors, and tone of voice that will appear on your marketing materials. And make sure your branding remains consistent across channels.
Step 4 – Find Your Team
Any nonprofit organization that hopes to succeed must build a team of good people. Your team members not only need to be passionate about the cause and qualified to meet the demands of their roles but also committed to persevering through intense challenges. Focus time and energy on building a leadership structure of partners you can rely on, from the day-to-day volunteers to the board of directors.
Step 5 – Establish Your Financials
Your nonprofit may not be focused on bringing a profit, but it takes a considerable amount of money to start an organization. You’ll need to raise the appropriate funds for a strong launch, and you’ll need to incorporate effective fundraising techniques throughout the life of your organization.
Research the various startup costs you can expect and the funding options available. Most nonprofit entrepreneurs concentrate their efforts on applying for grants. You’re not required to pay off grants (as with loans), and the money is generally provided to nonprofit organizations that can demonstrate a distinct purpose or program.
Along with applying for grants, put in place a sound financial management plan you can adhere to for the foreseeable future. For example, find an accounting system for nonprofits that will help you manage your organization’s money from day to day. Top-notch accounting software will simplify your team’s bookkeeping, invoicing, and donation tracking. It will even allow you to create custom reports and organize revenue expenditures by program or fund.
Step 6 – Make Your Organization Legal
Selecting your organization’s name and appointing a board of directors are the first legal steps to launching a nonprofit. You’ll also need to choose a legal structure and file all the necessary incorporation paperwork.
Most 501(c)(3)s are charitable bodies, and organizations with this label are restricted from operating in any way that can benefit private shareholder interests. A 501(c)(3) is also limited in its lobbying efforts.
Regarding the legal structure, understand that there are several different types of nonprofits, including corporations, trusts, and associations. The structure you form will depend on the type of organization you launch as well as the specific state in which you operate. Research your state’s regulations before diving too deep into the legal formation process.
Launching a nonprofit organization could be the ideal path if you want to help people in your community and beyond. After navigating the six steps above, you’ll be ready to start getting into the work you’re so passionate about.
Early operations will include building your network, creating a stunning website, developing a stellar marketing strategy, promoting your brand on social media, and much more. At every step, make sure your mission remains at the forefront and that you take care of the people you’re working with and serving.
Contact Amos Faulkner: [email protected]
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