5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Non Profit

Updated: Jun 22

If you have been moved by things going on in the world today and you feel inspired to be a part of the change, there are many ways that one can impact the situation. Born in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Excite All Stars began as a much-needed refuge for kids coping with unimaginable trauma. Fourteen years later, we are still filling critical gaps in our communities with comprehensive leadership development programs that provide exposure to academics, the arts, and athletics. To date, we’ve served 5,000 families with over 50,000 hours of programming. And this is only the beginning. From our roots as a New Orleans summer camp, we’ve grown into a 360-degree community support system, with after-school programs, camps, workshops and a virtual learning studio to expand our reach nationwide.

But the real impact is our All Stars: who gain the confidence, skills and experience to be champions of change in their communities for generations to come. If you feel inspired to start a nonprofit, I think that there are 5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Non Profit:

1. KNOW YOUR WHY! Why are you doing this?

Who else is doing it? Why now?

One of the main reasons nonprofits fail to make impact is due to mission drift. It is important to have a clearly defined mission and clarity on the issues that you are committed to addressing. Having these things clearly spelled out allows an organization to accurately direct resources for maximum impact.

When EAS was first starting out, we knew our why and our mission. We lived and breathed it every day. That hasn't changed in fourteen years. You have to clearly know and define your why and focus on it every day.

2. Lay a solid foundation

Put your infrastructure in place early. Establish your board of directors, write your strategic plan-including your mission statement, and file your legal paperwork. Your strategic plan will guide your board of directors and keep your team on mission. It is important that you have a thorough board orientation so that your board is fully engaged to support your team and the mission.

3. Two are better than one!

Collaboration is vital for collective impact. Having gone through a number of natural disasters and a global pandemic, we have learned the power of community and collaboration. Don’t try to go it alone. One way we did this was by joining a coalition of sports-based youth development organizations in our community.

We are better together.

4. Create a culture of philanthropy

A culture of philanthropy means everyone is willing to participate. It starts with board members, all staff (not only administrative staff), clients and volunteers understanding that fundraising is fundamental to the success of the organization. This means everyone who works for and cares about your mission is working toward the goal of raising funds. Everyone must feel a sense of responsibility for fundraising.

5. Develop multiple streams of income for your organization

Resource Dependence Theory is based on the premise that the most important goal of an organization is sustainability. In order to achieve sustainability in the 21st Century, under increased scrutiny and increased competition for resources, sustainability is contingent on developing diversified streams of income and developing as many internal and external stakeholders as an organization can manage to pursue these relationships and resources. This is important because it allows for a continuation of services even when the economy or other factor closes one source of revenue.

Starting a non profit is not for the faint of heart. It is for those who are passionate, driven, and committed to their organizational goals. Lay the groundwork for your nonprofit. Remain consistent in your message, branding, and mission statement to reach more people and unite your organization, employees, volunteers, and all those you may serve.

As you start your non profit, there will be many issues that you will have to navigate, but keeping these 5 things in mind will assist you in launching and maintaining a successful organization with maximum impact and sustainability.

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