Starting a Nonprofit: Choose Your Own Adventure Carefully

I want to start a nonprofit. How do I start?

  • What problem are you trying to solve? What is your unique solution? (HINT: Try to be as specific as possible.)
  • What void are you filling that isn’t currently being served?
  • How do you know that void exists? (HINT: Do competitive research to bolster your claim.)
  • Why does this void exist? (HINT: The void might exist because there is no market, unfortunately.)
  • What will you do differently and better than the competition? Will someone pay for your solution? (HINT: Do a feasibility assessment to test your assumptions on the market, competition and funding.)
  • Is someone doing this venture somewhere else? (HINT: This is a good thing — you can learn from them!)
  • Is starting a new nonprofit (a legal entity) the only way to solve for this void?
  • Are you passionate about this cause? Are you so passionate that you would do it for free and work 24/7 on it? If so, can you afford to do it for free for a while? If you are doing it for free, do you need another job? (HINT: I tell my students not to take this path unless they are passionate and have savings to live on.)
  • Have you ever started an organization before and know what it takes? (HINT: If not, find some mentors or a great consultant to help you jumpstart the process.)
  • Are you disciplined (can you balance your intense passion and creativity for the mission with the very real paperwork and fundraising needed for a nonprofit to survive and pay bills) enough to be your own boss?
  • Do you have a strong accountability process to ensure you can manage all the day-to-day activities of running a nonprofit?
  • How do you typically manage constructive feedback?
  • Are you extroverted and love selling things?

How is it best to get started as a nonprofit?

What are some helpful hints to consider as a start-up nonprofit?

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