Business Basics for the Nonprofit
March 10, 2016 Lynette Garet Business Basics 0 Comment
10 Tasks You Must Tackle to Open Your Nonprofit Business Office
You have the board ready, the mission statement prepared and your first marketing campaign ready to go; one of the final – and most important – pieces of the puzzle is where your nonprofit will call its home. Building a strong and organized business office will set your nonprofit up for success from the beginning.
Build a strong framework for your nonprofit by tackling these 10 tasks before you open:
- Find your location: Depending on how many people you’ll have involved, you will need enough space to comfortably house everyone, with some additional room for future growth possibilities. Take into consideration meeting spaces as well as the room needed for storage of any necessary equipment.
- Get all your permits in order: Obtain any necessary licenses and permits that your nonprofit will need to run a daily operation. Not only that, check into what registrations must be made well ahead of time also; for example with the IRS.
- Day-to-day activity: A nonprofit is a business, and every business must consider the day-to-day operations necessary in order to remain up and running. Who will open each day? Who will close? Who is to be trusted with the keys? Who accepts mails and packages? Who will clean the building, and what happens if there is a maintenance emergency? These questions must be asked of the board, and a consensus reached on the best way to run things before you open your doors.
- Human resources: Along the same vein, you will need to ensure that there are dedicated members of a human resource team and that they are prepared to handle the variety of issues that come along with a group of people working together. Don’t wait until a problem arises to have the team in place and ready to handle it.
- Furniture and equipment: While you may be starting off with a limited budget for supplies, basic office equipment must still be procured. Don’t forget the smaller things like paper, pens or staples either. Look to sites like Craigslist to find companies who are liquidating their furniture for a bargain.
- Communications: Prior to your opening day, arrange to have a business-level internet and phone package installed in your new office space. Negotiate with your provider, as there are often many specials available to businesses. Set up your nonprofit’s email accounts, and designate who will be reading and answering emails each day, as well as who will be answering the phones.
- Website: A website is no longer a luxury in the business world; it is a necessity, and for the nonprofit, it’s even more important. A good website will help you connect to the community you serve, as well as with potential volunteers and donators. Meet with several local site-building firms before you open, and aim to launch your site around the same time you open your office.
- Business cards: Though a small detail that can easily be overlooked in our digital age, business cards remain an effective form of networking, and an easy way to get your nonprofit’s name and contact information out there. Once you have your location nailed down, you can add your physical address as well.
- Mail: In addition to registrations and licensing, you will need to set up your nonprofit with your local post office. If you will be doing a lot of mailing or sending/receiving packages, it’s a smart idea to check into the business solutions the USPS website offers as well.
- Meetings: While they may be the bane of some offices, regular meetings are an important way nonprofits stay not only on top of everything, but moving forward as well. Without overwhelming the schedule, set regular meetings from the get-go so that the board may touch base on major projects, milestones and up and coming considerations. Ensure that, should everyone not be located within the same office, you have the technology ready to necessitate remote meetings.
As with every other aspect of starting a nonprofit, you will be best served if you treat it with the same professional, detailed attitude were you launching your own business. Your office will get off on the right foot and continue to run smoothly if you’ve put the proper framework down first.