People find new motivations to set up non-profit organizations to serve their communities. It is a commendable spirit. However, starting a non-profit organization is not a stroll in the park. Like any other worthwhile endeavor, it requires analysis, dedication, patience, and effort.
Though the process is daunting, a step-by-step strategy can ensure success. To alleviate some of the burdens, we have compiled a comprehensive manual outlining all the necessary measures for getting your non-profit organization off the ground in a structured and hassle-free way:
1. Conduct Research
The goal of non-profit organizations is not to make a profit. They are still businesses and must adhere to some protocols, just like for-profit companies. When a company introduces a new product, they conduct a requirements analysis to discover a genuine need for their product. The same rule applies to non-profit organizations.
Today, over a million philanthropic organizations exist in the United States. But many of them have a hard time attracting adequate funds. Therefore, you should first determine whether or not there is a need for your proposed non-profit and what existing organizations are doing in a similar field.
The best way to get the answers to these questions is to engage in non-profit needs assessment with the target population. Unlike in the past, this process has become a lot simpler. Instead of putting together a list of questions, you can download a non-profit needs assessment template online. Keep track of any qualitative and quantitative information you gather as part of your study. It can serve as “base data” for future monitoring and evaluation your organization’s performance.
2. Write A Great Mission Statement
Before donating to non-profit organizations, most people make it a point to read their mission statements. It speaks volumes about the importance of this step. The finest mission statements for non-profit organizations are engaging and simple to read. They also inform audiences of the organization’s target demographic and specific services. There is no universal approach to writing an awesome mission statement.
As you continue to brainstorm, your mission statement can end up being much longer than it needs. But it should not be more than a few sentences at most. Do not try to speed things up. It is because the time spent now on crafting a meaningful mission statement will pay dividends along the way. Think carefully about the data you collect, write multiple versions, and consult with relevant parties to improve your finished version.
3. Choose A Name
Your organization’s name is the first thing potential donors, volunteers, and recipients will notice. Put some time into researching and brainstorming the right name. You will open up a world of opportunities for your organization in the long run.
Generic names can work well. A well-thought-out generic name will hint at your organization’s mission, prompting people to learn more. You may also go with a meaningful name. It will describe your work to potential donors almost to a T. For example, with a name like “fight cancer,” people can easily conclude that this group is taking the deadly disease seriously and doing everything in its power to defeat it.
When selecting the name, be sure to hit the bullseye in the first go. That way, you will not have to deal with the inconvenience of modifying it in the future. In addition to the legal complications, changing the name requires your beneficiaries, donors, and volunteers to get accustomed to the new title.
4. Register Your Articles Of Incorporation
To officially establish a non-profit organization in a given state, you must submit articles of incorporation to the appropriate agency. In most cases, you will have to file your paperwork with either the secretary of state or a division that deals with business registration.
You are liable to submit a small filing fee with your articles of incorporation. Fees typically range between $20 and $100 in most jurisdictions. Depending on the state, you can either file electronically or via mail.
5. Establish Bylaws
The statutes that regulate your non-profit are known as bylaws. Your non-profit’s bylaws should outline key aspects of operation, such as who gets elected to leadership roles and how assets are dispersed in the event of dissolution. When establishing bylaws, you should get the legal help of an attorney who is well-versed in the laws of the state of non-profit organizations.
Your bylaws must be submitted alongside your Internal Revenue Service (IRS) application for federal tax exemptions. To maintain tax-exempt status, your organization must follow certain rules by the IRS.
6. Enlist Potential Donors
Get the ball rolling by compiling a list of everyone you know who might be interested in financially contributing to the cause. To begin with, you can collect funds from groups like local book clubs, women’s organizations, and religious congregations. The local banks also typically have a few bucks to donate to the local charities.
When you canvass the area for donations, promote your non-profit to as many people as possible. You can never tell when someone will try to make a difference for the better.
7. Purchase A Non-profit Software
Donor management software is an excellent investment once you kick-start fundraising efforts. You will have to track a substantial amount of donor information. The software will help you efficiently manage and communicate with your donors and provide tracking and reporting tools. Besides, it also will centralize your information so that you can monitor your organization’s financial health and engage in the foolproof decision-making process.
Creating a non-profit from scratch is an incredible way to give back to the community. But it may take a lot of time and perseverance to build a non-profit organization and see it through to maturity. Therefore, before moving on, it is vital to comprehend all these key steps involved in the procedure.