If you want to help others or serve a collective public need, you may have considered starting your own non-profit. You may already have a goal in mind, or your ideas might still be in the brainstorming stage. Either way, you’ll need to do your research and make sure your organization meets the requirements of your state.
You can start a non-profit even if you don’t have experience of running a business, providing you take the necessary registration steps and can pull in the funds to support your idea. With that in mind, here are eight tips for starting a self-sustaining non-profit organization.
You can’t start a non-profit on your own. Even if you’re the only director, you still need to enlist the expertise of accountants and lawyers to make sure you’re operating legally and sustainably. Better yet, start recruiting and accepting help from the get-go. You’re more likely to achieve your mission with the help of others.
Enrolling in an online Nonprofit Management MBA will teach you all the unique aspects of managing a non-profit organization, including management, finance and marketing. Running a non-profit is much like running a business in many respects, but there are specific nuances you should be aware of.
Decide on Your Mission Statement
The aim of a non-profit is usually to help people without financial reward. Before you launch your organization, you need to decide what problems it will address. How will your non-profit make a difference in the community? Be specific about your demographic and decide on your unique ethics and values.
Choose a Name
Once you’ve decided on your mission statement, you need to choose a name for your organization that demonstrates your values and appeals to your key demographic. Check with the state that your name is available, and buy the domain name so you can start working on your online presence.
Check out the Competition
Although you won’t be profiting from your venture, you still need to assess your competition. Are other organizations in your community already addressing the public need? If so, your non-profit is unlikely to be sustainable.
You’ll need to choose your board of directors, which should consist of three to six members. It’s important to do this early on so that your founding board members are in place for the process of incorporation.
Hire an Attorney
An attorney will help you file your paperwork and understand the legal side of starting a non-profit. You’ll need to file your Articles of Incorporation and register for non-profit status. There will be fees associated with this process and plenty of paperwork, so it’s a good idea to seek expert legal advice.
Hire an Accountant
Financial filings for non-profit organizations are highly regulated, so it’s a good idea to use an approved accounting system or hire an accountant if your budget allows.
An accountant will make you aware of federal and state tax regulations and take care of your filings, so you have more time to run your non-profit.
There you have it: eight steps to starting your own non-profit organization. If you have an idea that could make a difference to your community, don’t let fear hold you back. Believe in yourself and your mission statement, and most importantly, don’t try to go it alone.
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