You Say You Want to Start a Nonprofit!

You may want to start a nonprofit to meet a need that is not being met in your community by public or private services. There may be a need that you believe you are uniquely capable of filling due to your knowledge or life experience. Throughout the world committed people create nonprofit organizations to fill the gap of needed services in and out of their communities. You are not alone.

Your answer to the question ‘why start a nonprofit’ is critical and before you get started, you should candidly assess if your “why” is strong enough. Is this something you really believe in? Is this something that is a reoccurring conversation? Do people continue to ask about what’s happening with it? Or, is this a “nice to do.” Why you may ask if this is important. Well…if your “why” is strong it will self-motivate you to complete this task. If it is not, consider doing something else.

Ready to get started. Okay. On to the nutz and boltz of starting a nonprofit. The first thing you want to determine is to define your service. Exactly what will you be doing and for whom? Take the time to be clear about this. Is there any other organization providing the same service to those you want to serve? Do the research. If so, what is so special about the service you want to provide? What will distinguish your services from others.

Once the service and target is defined you can begin to draft your mission statement. This statement describes the what you will be doing and to/for whom. Don’t rush it and try not to get stuck on it. You will find out that the wording for the mission may be refined over time. What’s important is that you are forming an organization and the mission statement should be memorable such that those supporting and working for you (paid and volunteers) can spout it off without a second thought.

What’s in a name? The name of your nonprofit is not only for legal purposes, it is representative of how you are, what you stand for and may express your purpose. It may be your logo, that symbol that as time passes will come to represent you and become the standard of business you represent. Your name is important so like naming a baby, choose it purposely.