5 Tips for How to Start a Successful Nonprofit

Are you looking for a long-term way to give back to your community? A nonprofit is a great way to do just that. Simply put, unlike an ordinary business, a nonprofit doesn’t make a profit—the purpose isn’t to make money. Because of this, the IRS refers to a nonprofit as a 501(c)(3) organization, which defines a nonprofit as a charitable organization. 

Starting (and running) a nonprofit takes a lot of time and thought, but it’s well worth it when you start to help your community. Check out some tips for how to start a successful nonprofit! 

Tips for How to Start a Successful Nonprofit 

  1. Research, Research, Research

Before you ever start thinking about revenue and business plans, you need to do a ton of research on what you want your nonprofit to benefit. Sadly, nearly half of all nonprofits are set up to fail because they don’t put in the time and work to research a clear idea and goal. 

The research and planning you put into your nonprofit at the outset can legitimately save you time and money later. Figure out if your nonprofit will be doing the same or similar work as another in your community. Duplicate services are destined to fail. Find out what your community’s demographic needs—whether it’s providing resources that help those affected by drunk driving or preserving your community’s historical artifacts. Then, determine whether or not your idea will benefit your community and receive the support it needs. 

Take the time to really delve into your idea now. Don’t flounder for this important information later. 

  1. Determine Your Business Plan

Future investors and donors will want copies of your business plan—it tells them that you put in the time and effort to think through this initiative. Business plans should start with something similar to an elevator pitch. Think about what makes your nonprofit unique and the ways that it will help the community. From there, go through your products and services, marketing and financial plan, and the organizational structure. 

Check out these sample nonprofit business plans for more information. 

  1. Decide Revenue Sources

There are a couple different ways to bring in revenue. The most well-known for nonprofits are the private contributions from donors, corporate sponsors, and fundraising. However, there are also government grants to consider. Determine what will be your largest revenue source and figure out how that will work into your overall plan. 

  1. Find a Board of Directors

Your board will fulfill a variety of roles and responsibilities, so it’s important to make sure it’s filled with people who will support and motivate you. Before you start looking, decide the character and mindset you want your board members to have. Going forward, make sure you know what you want your board development to be like, from orientation to evaluation. 

  1. Figure Out Your Name & Mission Statement

You can either do this before or after you’ve found a board of directors. No matter when you do this step, make sure you take the time to think through what best represents the values of your organization. Use strong words that deliberately get your point across. Keep it short, simple, and memorable. 

This was just a quick look at what you need to start a successful nonprofit. Remember that it will take time to grow your organization and get comfortable with all of its entailments. For more information, take a look at this in-depth blog that explains everything you need to do to run your nonprofit. 

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Written by Emma Radebaugh

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