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  • Starting a New Nonprofit? 10 Things You Need to Know to Make it a Success

Congratulations! So you’re launching a new nonprofit, a brand new organization unique to your community. It’s an important decision to commit to social change, but now what?

Where do you and your team go from here? A resilient nonprofit startup needs a vital mission, consistent and varied income streams, good accountability, and high-quality programs and services. It’s all too easy to miss an essential step.


How to start a nonprofit


Following are 10 things to consider when starting your new nonprofit:

1.  Starting with the basic steps

Perhaps you have already tackled the basics. If not, take a look at these essential fundamentals that every nonprofit has to consider in order to start its mission: Steps to Starting a Successful Nonprofit.

2.  Incorporate or not?

What type of charity are you going to be? The three potential legal entities for a new nonprofit are a corporation, a charitable trust, or the unincorporated association. Each has its own specific place but incorporating as a non-profit has many advantages, especially for the long-haul. Read Everything You Need to Know to Incorporate as a Nonprofit.

3.  If you are incorporating

You’ve decided to incorporate, now what? One of the first tasks after incorporation will be to elect important officers for the organization, such as the treasurer and the secretary. As state laws differ, look online for resources where experts can help with the heavy lifting, often for free. For example, what state and federal documents should be filed in your state and what permits need to be in place – state permits and local permits? Read What to do After You Have Incorporated Your Nonprofit.

4.  Copy big business, a little…

There isn’t an organization today that can afford to ignore good business practices and new nonprofits are no exception. Because nonprofits often work to tight deadlines with minuscule manpower and budgets so small they seem invisible, setting up a framework of best business practices will be an invaluable tool: 4 Business Practices Every Nonprofit Should Use.

5.  Make your brand stand out

Whatever the legal entity you have chosen for your organization, there are essential areas that all new nonprofits should be aware of. Identifying and dealing with these issues at the outset will put your new nonprofit on the road to success. The most essential of these issues, branding, is vital to establish early on in your local community. With a strong, reputable brand, you’ll reach out to those you serve, attract free advertising and touch more donors: 7 Steps to make Your Nonprofit Brand Known Locally.

6.  Finding your fans

Nonprofits sometimes make the mistake of ignoring marketing, on the basis that it’s a for-profit concept. But the marketing principles we “borrow” from big business are central to success! No, we’re not trying to make money in the conventional, capitalist model but every time you try to sell a cookie or a sucker, every time you approach a donor, marketing becomes part of the equation. Marketing your new nonprofit should be a significant part of your overall business plan: Marketing Your Nonprofit – Why it is Crucial and How to Do it.

7.  Let your fans find you

Boost your marketing and branding for your new nonprofit with your own website. Even if you already have a Facebook Page, not having a website means you’re missing out on the opportunity to establish a rock solid independent web presence. Your website is another powerful tool for extending your reach, keeping supporters informed and to making all essential data and forms available for interested parties. Read How to Create a Website and How to Create a Facebook Page.

8.  Extending your reach

For new nonprofits, embracing early adoption is essential for social media success. Social media sites work wonderfully for getting information to large groups of people. It’s all about conversation and engaging with others and will help create awareness for your new nonprofit’s cause. A sound social media strategy raises your brand awareness and spreads your fundraising message: Does Your Group Have a Social Media Strategy?

9.  Let the pictures tell the story

Don’t discount Pinterest and Instagram. Both have the potential to send your communications far and wide and attract prospective donors. New nonprofits can spread their message across a lot of channels with Pinterest and Instagram and the platforms provide a definite advantage for a small organization heavily reliant on fund-raising activities. Get visual and find out how your engagement will increase. Read Should Your Nonprofit Use Instagram and Pinterest?

10.  Money funds the mission

There are two wheels to the nonprofit bicycle: the most first important, mission, is only accomplished by being successful at the second, fundraising. One of the harsh realities all nonprofits need to remember is fundraising is a difficult job: Fundraising With Confidence and Without Fear.

All new nonprofits will benefit from solid fundraising plans, fundraising structures and strategies. It not a secret, it is a hard slog, driving a new nonprofit  towards success. The work may be tough but the satisfaction in achieving the goal far outweighs the drawbacks. Congratulations on your new nonprofit!

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