4 Must-Know Items for Creating Your Own Nonprofit Startup
Being a nonprofit executive is difficult, but starting a new nonprofit can be so overwhelming that you lose interest altogether. You bog yourself down with the organization name and startup costs to the point that you allow the core of your charity to be overlooked. Many individuals interested in nonprofit startup will have passion and interest in a particular cause but are clueless as to how to begin. Consequently, we lose interest due to the fact that we cannot determine “what is step one?”
Initially, filing your Articles of Incorporation, obtaining an EIN or Tax ID Number, drafting Bylaws, and filing for the 501c3 tax exempt status per a 1023 Form seems to be the logical steps. However, taking a look at the rules and regulation per your state and the Internal Revenue Service is always a good start to avoid incorrect filing and long-term regrets.
Knowledge and preparation is essential to any nonprofits’ success. However, your initial focus – as obvious as they may seem – can be narrowed down to four must-know items:
- Determine your purpose. Many people have a great passion to help their local community or the international population. However, you need to focus your passion and determine what the specific purpose of your organization will be. A great principle to grasp is that no organization can be everything to everyone. Without a focus on a specific purpose, your nonprofit startup will be stretched too thin, especially in its early years.
- Explore nonprofit resources and consultation. The mistake many individuals initially make is trying to take on so much as a single person because they feel they are the only person who cares about their mission. Not only is this a negative mentality, but it’s the antithesis of what fuels nonprofits: retrieving and retaining other individuals’ support. You will quickly find yourself exhausted and may give up before your organization even gets started. Go out and tell people about the issues your nonprofit organization will address is experiencing.
- Develop and write your mission statement. Your mission statement should be a couple of sentences that explains: who you will specifically help; what need your organization will focus on; where your services will be received; and how this will be accomplished. The mission statement should be the mantra of the group and should be drafted based on your organizations’ purpose, services and values.
- Set short-term and long-term goals. All organizations have a starting point, and you need to set a road map for your organization to effectively determine its path to success. If you do not have a plan, you will not have a future! Set some early and attainable short-term goals for your team to accomplish within the first three months. Also, set a few long-term goals that you hope to accomplish within the first year. You may even want to project you nonprofit for the next three years. Regardless, remember to make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound).
Understanding and completing these four items will prepare you to legally establish a nonprofit organization. By focusing on a specific purpose, putting together an enthusiastic and equipped team, having a strong mission statement, and setting goals for your nonprofit startup will assist you in developing a strong and successful nonprofit organization.