Starting A Nonprofit
You may decide one day that it’s your calling to not only work for a nonprofit but to start one of your own. The delay or obstacle in following your career dreams may be that you’re unsure of where to start or how to proceed with this endeavor.
Use the following guide to help you lay out a plan of action so you can get your nonprofit up and running quickly and heading in the right direction. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication on your part so be prepared to put in long hours and to step up and be a leader in your role.
Follow Your Passion
A good place to start is to follow your passion regarding what it is that makes you excited to get out of bed each day. This is what will help to keep you motivated to want to proceed whenever you’re feeling tired or defeated throughout the process. For example, maybe you or a loved one has been impacted by a particular illness you want to focus on, or maybe it’s a specific business field or industry you wish to pursue. It doesn’t matter what your subject matter is as long as you believe in it and have confidence you can get others to also rally behind you and support your cause.
Choose A Business Name
Another step in the process of starting a nonprofit is to think of a creative and catchy business name others can get behind. You want it to be meaningful and also clear and concise as to not cause any confusion. Take time to brainstorm and bounce various ideas of off others and take a vote so that you know you have the buy-in from others and are all in agreement. At this time, you should also take care of other business matters such as registering with your state and applying to the IRS for nonprofit status.
Your nonprofit will also require you coming up with bylaws for how your operation will function. You’ll need to create procedures for holding elections, deciding how meetings will run and a membership structure, if necessary. You’ll thank yourself later for setting these ground rules and policies early on so that you have a roadmap to follow as time goes on. Good practice for writing these bylaws includes:
- Know the purpose of having bylaws
- Get member input
- Write them down in the proper format
- Gather advice from a lawyer
One idea is to contact a san diego nonprofit attorney for this last step so that you can make sure your bylaws are written correctly and properly compiled.
Find A Mentor
Another helpful idea for when you’re ready to start your nonprofit is to find a mentor who’s been in your shoes before. This way, you can follow in their footsteps, and they can offer up guidance and advice about what you should be doing when. Your mentor can keep you from making the same mistakes they did when they started their nonprofit and give you a heads up on what to expect in your role going forward. It’ll be useful to not have to go on this journey all alone and have someone you can turn to through the inevitable ups and downs that come with tackling this sort of project.
Appoint A Board of Directors
You’re also going to need to work on appointing a board of directors that will become part of your nonprofit. Your board members are the group of people who are going to be running the show behind the scenes and will help to provide you with a certain level of funding and support throughout the year. You’ll hold board meetings and will take a vote on particular matters that are important and need to get pushed into action. It’s a wise idea to gather people from all different industries and walks of life so that you have a mixture of opinions and viewpoints to consider.
As time goes on you’re going to have more and more work and responsibilities that pile up on your plate. In this case, you might want to think about hiring certain staff members to assist you. For example, a marketing professional, finance director, member coordinator, and an assistant are all roles you should consider filling early on. Determine how many people and what positions you can afford on your pay role initially and add employees as you grow your operation. As you develop your nonprofit, it may become all too much to handle yourself, and you’ll appreciate having a helping hand from others who you can count on to deliver great results.
As a nonprofit, you’re going to need to find ways to keep your operation funded and in business. For example, maybe you collect annual member fees and hold frequent events that people attend to help you raise money for your nonprofit. Gather a list of ideas and different events you want to see yourself produce throughout the year and then work with your board and staff members to turn your ideas into a reality. This is not only a great way to raise money for your nonprofit but will also help to get the word out to the public and others about the vital work you’re doing and what your nonprofit stands for.
You should now have a better idea as to what you need to do to start your nonprofit. While it’s not an easy undertaking, it can be a very rewarding path to head down and will certainly keep you busy. It’s a wise idea to do some additional research into what else is required of you before you commit to this particular project to make sure it’s what you want to do for the long-term. Most importantly, have fun with it, and enjoy the fact that you’re in a position to help others, inform others, and better yourself as well as improve your professional skills simultaneously.