How To Start A Nonprofit Organization

Do you need a job? Just kidding, that’s not enough of a reason to start a nonprofit organization! Starting a nonprofit organization is, however, a job. What will you need to get started? Read on to find out how to make an organization that helps people!

1. Identify a problem that you would like to solve that will help people.

Maybe you think that childcare is too expensive in the United States and that the government has been too slow to help, or you feel that help is unreliable in the future under potentially a new administration. Maybe you would like to start a nonprofit preschool that has affordable rates for low-income parents.

2. Have work experience.

If you want to make a nonprofit preschool that has affordable rates for low-income parents, you will need to have some other work experience first. The role you take on will be both hands-on and also administrative, so make sure you have worked as a preschool teacher and also as an office assistant, and maybe more. You need to know the “ins and outs” of the industry. You’ll need to have had a multitude of conversations with parents and a great deal of experience with working with children. Make sure that this work experience has been engaging. Don’t just show up to work. Be constantly striving for excellence.

3. Work for a nonprofit.

Be mentored by the nonprofit field. Understand the pace of the nonprofit workplace. Practice the tone of voice that is utilized. Learn about the background of the nonprofit you are working for, how it was started, how revenue is made, and what its mission is. A nonprofit’s mission is applied in every interaction.

4. Work for a company.

To really understand what makes a nonprofit unique, it is sometimes considered critical to also have worked for a company. Companies often have different paces than a nonprofit and a different tone of voice. Their mission is usually to make as much money as possible, but you might find that they also strive for integrity and are concerned with their reputation. A nonprofit can make as much money as a company, it’s just that the money goes back into the nonprofit or is put towards charitable causes, not into salary bonuses. So, by working at a company, you might find a way to make a lot of revenue for your nonprofit, all to be used for good.

5. Work for the government.

Working for the government would include working at a public school, working at a DMV, and more. A government job will teach you the third type of workplace structure and will help you to work with the government in forming your nonprofit organization. You and the IRS are basically coworkers! A government job also can have a unique pace and tone. The government will be providing money for many aspects of your nonprofit, so it’s good to understand firsthand the goals the government has for the country and what would be a worthy cause for them to undertake.

6. Work for yourself.

If you’re going to start a nonprofit organization, it’s good to have worked for yourself, because it’s good to have experience being your own boss. Have clients. Collaborate. Hire.

7. Be a manager.

Being a manager is a good experience to have before starting a nonprofit organization, because most of the time you will be hiring and managing people. Don’t make your potential nonprofit organization be the first time you are managing people!

8. Take a nonprofit related course or get a degree and have formal education in the field the nonprofit covers.

To start this nonprofit preschool, you will want to have had classroom training in nonprofit leadership, and also in child development. People who will be interested in your program will want to know what your background is and will probably ask you constantly, so it is good to have a good answer.

9. Identify costs associated with starting your nonprofit.

Once you have the idea for the nonprofit, as well as the background and training, you will need to identify the costs associated with starting it. Do you need a building? Will you need employees? What will you pay them? Will you give them benefits? Do you need to hire an accountant or a lawyer? A website like Guidestar or Charity Navigator can help you to see the costs that similar nonprofits undertake (and also how they make revenue). A nonprofit preschool would need a building or to rent a space in a building, preschool teachers, money for classroom supplies, and more.

10. Think about how this nonprofit could make money.

How will you make revenue? Will you solicit donations? If people really believe in your nonprofit preschool, people will want to fund it. Will you charge some tuition, perhaps on a sliding scale? Will you have fundraisers? How can you raise the money necessary to start, before the first day of school? Perhaps there is a government grant that you can apply for! 

11. File the paperwork with the IRS.

Go to the IRS website and fill out the paperwork to apply for nonprofit status. The IRS will want to know things like your mission, your plan for revenue, and estimated costs.

12. Wait to hear back.

There is a lot of waiting associated with starting a nonprofit! The IRS must review your application. They might send you some follow-up questions. You might get a phone call. There is a lot to do while you are waiting! Continue to learn, continue to research, and keep your dreams alive. If you really want to help people, there will be a way to do it. So all of your hard work will never be lost. If your application is rejected, find out why, regroup, and try, try, again!