5 Questions to Consider Before You Start a Nonprofit
November 3, 2016 Lynette Garet Starting a nonprofit 0 Comment
Are you certain you are ready to start a nonprofit?
Starting a nonprofit is the same as starting a for-profit business, only harder. Competition for donors, funding and supporters is fierce. Raising awareness is difficult in a crowded and competitive sector. Before you step off the edge, ask yourself these questions.
Am I up to the job?
Whatever your motivation for creating a nonprofit—giving back, righting wrongs, sharing information—take a hard look at your personal resources. Do you have the time and passion to get a new business (make no mistake, running a nonprofit is a business proposition) up and running? Do you have the mental, physical and emotional wherewithal to handle the business basics, find the money and gather the support?
What do I want to do with my nonprofit, and for whom?
Sure, you want to end homelessness, hunger, poverty and pollution but you’ll need to be specific about exactly what you want to do for whom and how you’ll meet your goals. What is your vision for success? Can you refine your mission to fifty words or less? Vision and mission statements are the foundation of your new nonprofit. Review the vision/mission statements of existing NPOs similar to yours for some ideas about what works.
Do I have an original approach to the issue?
GuideStar, the leading source of information on U.S. nonprofits, tracks information about each and every one of the 1.8 million IRS-registered organization in the U.S., plus some others around the world. Research its directory or create an account for free to find out more about nonprofits like yours. There may be nothing new under the sun but if you have a niche audience for your nonprofit, you’ll stand out in the crowd.
How will I find the money and people to help with my new nonprofit?
So far, you will have done most of the heavy lifting in creating a new nonprofit on your own. The next step is finding the money and people to help you fulfill your goals. A well-written business plan is invaluable; NGO and foundations often require a business plan in grant applications. Grant Space and the Nonprofits Assistance Fund are two of many online resources available.
What is special about my nonprofit?
Don’t be discouraged if you’ve done your homework and discovered there are eleventy million NPOs out there already doing what you want to do. Simply ask yourself: how will my nonprofit stand out? What will we do differently? What will be special about this nonprofit? How will I express our differences? Every one of us has something unique and special to give. What is your special gift?
Undoubtedly, your answers to these questions, like all good questions, have raised more questions. Take the time to ask the next one and then move on and on. There are plenty of ways to make the world a better place and you can help. Just check in with yourself to be sure that you have what it takes and are wiling to go the distance in order to reap that reward.