Starting a Nonprofit: A Guide for Forming Your Own Charitable Organization

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Each year, thousands of people set out to start a nonprofit organization. These individuals are undoubtedly passionate about their cause and truly want to make a difference in their communities. Unfortunately, many start off on the wrong foot because they fail to fully develop their idea through comprehensive planning. Most do not recognize that operating within the nonprofit sector requires a unique set of knowledge, skills, and abilities. To help you identify what areas of your plan needs more attention, here are some common things to think about:

Determine Your Purpose

An important 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. Consider what your main purpose will be as a nonprofit organization and base all of your business goals off of this purpose. Think about what solutions you can offer that other nonprofits don’t offer yet, or what special skills you bring to the market. As you consider your purpose, you can set the tone for your future plans, and hopefully obtain an advantage in your specific industry.

Explore Nonprofit Resources and Consultation

The mistake many individuals initially make is trying to take on too much as a single person, because they feel they are the only person who cares about their mission. As you develop your ideas for the nonprofit, it is important to use the resources and professionals at your disposal. You should reach out to fundraising services, grant writing services, and accounting professionals to help you raise and manage money for your cause. There will be a lot of complicated taxes to deal with, and if you aren’t good at fundraising, you’ll need a little help from the pros. Use all the resources at your disposal, and consult with professionals as you devise a plan when starting a nonprofit.

Develop and Write your Mission Statement

Once you’ve designated your specific purpose it is wise to create a mission statement. Your mission statement should be a couple of sentences that explain who you will specifically help, what needs 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. Set some early and attainable short-term goals for your team to accomplish within the first three months. Your short term goals will relate to the logistics of getting the nonprofit up and running. You’ll need to make everything legal by obtaining the proper licensing and paperwork, you’ll need to set up a budget that will ensure you have the capital you need, and take care of any other nitty gritty items that need to be done in order to actually launch the business. Once you’ve set some short term goals, you can focus on 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).

Many individuals interested in starting a charity will have passion and interest in a particular cause, but are clueless as to how to begin. While it will take a lot of work and preparation to get the nonprofit up and running, you can start small to create a vision for the startup that will eventually grow into a powerful force for change.

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