Nifty Fifty Fridays
50 Steps to Starting a Nonprofit
If you want to start a nonprofit, it’s good to have a roadmap for success. The following 50 steps are key to launching a nonprofit. These aren’t in any particular order, so map them out as you see fit. And I might add a 51st – Come to the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference!
1. Identify a Need: Ensure that the need your nonprofit plans to address is not currently being met in your community.
2. Do Market Research: Conduct surveys, interviews, and focus groups to determine community support for your nonprofit.
3. Define Your Mission: Clearly articulate the purpose and goals of your organization.
4. Create a Vision Statement: Identify what you ultimately hope to achieve.
5. Determine Your Audience: Who are you serving? Who would be interested in supporting your cause?
6. Write a Case Statement: Document why your nonprofit should exist and what it plans to do.
7. Establish a Business Plan: Detail your organization’s strategy for achieving its goals.
8. Identify Key Roles: Determine what roles will be necessary in your organization.
9. Recruit a Board of Directors: Identify and recruit individuals who are passionate about your mission.
10. Determine Legal Structure: Will your organization be a trust, association, or corporation?
11. Choose a Name: Make sure it aligns with your mission and is not already in use.
12. File Articles of Incorporation: This establishes your nonprofit as a legal entity.
13. Develop Bylaws: Create the formal rules that will govern your nonprofit.
14. Conduct First Board Meeting: Officially establish your organization and its board.
15. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN): You'll need this for tax purposes.
16. Establish a Record-Keeping System: This will be essential for legal compliance.
17. Register for State Tax Identification Numbers: Check the requirements in your state.
18. Apply for Federal Tax-Exempt Status (501(c)(3) status): This allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions.
19. Register with Your State's Department of Charities: This is typically required for fundraising.
20. Apply for a Nonprofit Mailing Permit: This allows you to mail materials at nonprofit postal rates.
21. Develop a Fundraising Plan: How will your organization raise money?
22. Identify Potential Grant Opportunities: Start researching potential funding sources.
23. Write a Budget: Plan your organization’s financial activities for the year.
24. Open a Bank Account: You will need your EIN and a copy of your articles of incorporation.
25. Purchase Insurance: Make sure your organization is covered against risk.
26. Create a Logo and Branding Materials: Make sure they align with your mission and audience.
27. Build a Website: This is essential for credibility and fundraising.
28. Establish a Social Media Presence: This is a great way to engage with your community.
29. Recruit Volunteers: Many nonprofits rely heavily on volunteer work.
30. Develop a Marketing Strategy: How will you get the word out about your nonprofit?
31. Plan a Launch Event: Celebrate the official launch of your nonprofit and attract initial supporters.
32. File for Trademarks (if necessary): Protect your logo, slogan, or program names.
33. Create Key Partnerships: Look for organizations that complement your mission and can help further your goals.
34. Develop a Donor Management System: Keep track of who's donating to your organization.
35. Create a Donor Recognition Plan: How will you thank and recognize your donors?
36. Design a Program Evaluation Method: How will you measure the success of your programs?
37. Start Offering Programs or Services: Begin doing the work your nonprofit was created to do.
38. Continually Evaluate and Adjust Your Business Plan: Things change. Be ready to adapt.
39. File Required Annual Tax Forms: Make sure to stay in compliance with all tax laws.
40. Develop a Succession Plan: Plan for the future of your organization.
41. Join a Nonprofit Association: Networking and professional development are key.
42. Create a Major Gift Strategy: How will you attract large gifts to your organization?
43. Invest in Professional Development for Staff: The stronger your team, the stronger your nonprofit.
44. Plan and Execute Regular Fundraising Events: Keep funds coming in to support your work.
45. Cultivate Relationships with Major Donors: Personal relationships are key in fundraising.
46. Apply for Grants: Diversify your funding sources.
47. Communicate Regularly with Supporters: Keep them informed and engaged with regular updates.
48. Acknowledge All Contributions Promptly: Always say thank you!
49. Regularly Review and Update Your Strategic Plan: Stay aligned with your mission and goals.
50. Keep the Passion Alive: Remember why you started your nonprofit in the first place!
Like what you see? Get Nifty Fifty Fridays delivered right to your inbox!
Click the green button to sign up.