By Don Lewis, abilitylabs.com
Have you always wanted to run your own business? If you also care deeply about a certain social or environmental problem, launching a nonprofit is a great and fulfilling way to become an entrepreneur. While regular businesses can also have a positive impact on the community, setting up your business as a nonprofit will exempt you from taxes, make it easier to apply for grants and public funding, and separate yourself from any liabilities related to your business.
Launching a nonprofit can be complicated and time-consuming, but don’t let this deter you from following your dreams. You can find countless resources online to help you navigate the startup process.
1. Determine Your Mission Statement
First and foremost, you need to choose a cause to support with your nonprofit. WP Charitable suggests several relevant causes to base a nonprofit around:
- Arts funding and awareness
- Animal welfare
- Homeless advocacy
- Food poverty
- Food waste reduction
- Mental health support and awareness
- Physical disability support
- Climate change
Once you’ve chosen a cause, craft a clear mission statement to drive your decisions moving forward. Your mission statement should describe your nonprofit to others in one or two simple sentences. Your nonprofit partners, staff members, donors, volunteers, and customers will refer to this statement to understand what it is your business does and why.
2. Register Your Nonprofit
Registering your nonprofit involves a few steps. First, you’ll need to choose an available name for your organization, select a board of directors, and apply for an EIN. Then, you can file the articles of incorporation to register your business and structure it as a nonprofit corporation.
You’ll also need to create bylaws to detail the rules and procedures for operating your nonprofit. Your bylaws should include information about how your organization is governed, procedures for board meetings, and how you’ll handle a conflict of interest.
3. Write a Business Plan
Like all businesses, your nonprofit needs a solid business plan. Shopify suggests starting with an executive summary of your nonprofit covering your goals, vision, product description, target market, funding needs, and marketing plan.
Next, you’ll want to establish a unique value proposition, describing the competitive advantage your business has over your competition. Your business plan should also include your short- and long-term goals as well as how you intend to achieve them.
4. Get Your Documents in Order
Digitizing your nonprofit’s documents can help reduce paper clutter, improve access to important information, and increase efficiency in managing administrative tasks, leading to a more streamlined and organized operation.
Using PDFs to organize your documents provides several benefits such as reducing file size and improving compatibility, maintaining document integrity and formatting across devices, providing advanced security features, enabling easy search functionality, and facilitating easy sharing and collaboration, leading to improved efficiency and productivity. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use editing solution, this PDF tool can be helpful. Just drop in the files, arrange them as you’d like, and then save the new file.
5. Create a Marketing Plan
Marketing is important for getting donations, attracting volunteers, and ensuring the right people know your product or service exists. Branding is an incredibly important part of advertising a nonprofit. Start with an appealing logo that reflects your mission.
6. Start Fundraising
Fundraising is the lifeblood of nonprofits. Creating a nonprofit fundraising plan will help ensure consistent cash flow and build a sustainable organization. Because nonprofit fundraising is heavily regulated, make sure your business is registered in every state in which you wish to fundraise. Learn about the laws and regulations around fundraising in your state and read up on ethical fundraising practices so you can avoid issues. It’s always a good idea to speak with a lawyer when it comes to complicated legal matters like this.
Get Your Nonprofit Started
Few things are more rewarding than running a nonprofit and supporting a cause that’s close to your heart. While launching a nonprofit is a lot of work, a strong sense of determination will help you navigate the complex startup process so you can get to the fun part. Start planning your new nonprofit today by writing a business plan and mission statement, organizing your documents, creating a marketing plan, and starting the fundraising process.
Note: Don Lewis is the founder of the Idaho-based abilitylabs.com, started following his son Randy’s motorcycle accident that resulted in Randy suffering a severe head trauma. Lewis uses the website to provide a resource for family members of people with disabilities.