When it comes to starting and growing a successful business, purpose is a huge part of the equation. If you feel like you have an important purpose in what you’re doing, you’re more likely to see it through. But just having the desire to launch a nonprofit isn’t enough to succeed – you need a plan.
4 Helpful Pointers
A nonprofit organization is just a business with a unique structure and tax status. However, if you’re going to be successful with your nonprofit, you need to approach it from the right angle. Here are a few helpful suggestions to get you moving in a positive direction:
- Conduct a Needs Analysis
You almost certainly have a good idea. The question is: Are you really needed?
“Find out if organizations (nonprofit, for-profit, or government) are already doing the same or similar work in your community,” GrantSpace suggests. “It will be harder to get support if you are just duplicating existing services rather than improving or adding to them. Also find demographic or population data that shows a need for your services, and explain how that need is not being met.”
If your desire is truly help people or address a specific issue, your resources may be better spent supporting existing initiatives (if they exist). If there’s no such thing (or it’s not being done well), feel free to proceed.
- Choose the Right State
Location is a hot word in the real estate profession, but it’s also a critically important concept in the world of nonprofits. In particular, you need to be mindful of which state you launch in.
“As with anything where governing bodies oversee states, you will have some states that are more relaxed with regulations and other states where things are incredibly tight and regulated,” IncFile explains. “Two of the most difficult states to start a nonprofit in are New York and California. They are the most heavily regulated when it comes to nonprofit organizations. On the flip side, Arizona, Delaware, Nevada and Wisconsin are great states for starting nonprofits as they tend to have the fewer regulations, making it slightly easier to get your nonprofit up and running.”
If you have the flexibility to do so, it’s highly recommended that you explore multiple states and choose the one that’s most convenient (in terms of taxes and regulations). This little bit of extra research on the front end can save you a significant amount of stress.
- Write a Business Plan
A lot of people have the desire to start a nonprofit, but few take the time to lay the proper foundation in the form of a strategic, well-developed business plan. You can put yours on the proper trajectory by writing a thorough business plan that touches on all key aspects of your mission, vision, and execution.
In order to write a business plan, you’ll need to begin by researching the market. Once you’ve done that, you can investigate the resources you’ll need in order to provide your services to the right audience. Next comes the development of marketing and communication strategies, followed by risk assessments. Finally, establish some sort of system for evaluating and measuring success. This will prove to be very important as your nonprofit grows and matures.
- Develop Support
If there’s one thing that sets you up for either success or failure from the start, it’s your board. A good board will help you thrive, while an ineffective one will doom you from the very start.
“Your first board members represent your ‘circle of influence.’ They should be people who have resources, influence, and lots of other contacts,” entrepreneur Joanne Fritz writes for The Balance. “Your board members should believe in your organization’s mission and be willing to sell that mission to others. They should be able to open doors for you.”
In other words, don’t just accept anyone who offers to be on your board. There needs to be a process of due diligence before carefully selecting the right individuals.
Adding it All Up
Starting and running a nonprofit comes with a number of distinct challenges and opportunities. Hopefully these tips and suggestions have provided you with some direction and inspiration to be successful as you move forward. Always be open to suggestions and never burn bridges. The nonprofit world is closely connected and success is highly predicated on relationships and reputation. If you put people first, good things will typically happen.