“I want to start a nonprofit. What do I do?” That’s GREAT! My reply would be why do you want to start a nonprofit versus just volunteering with other nonprofit organizations? Normally their answer is “I heard you can get alot of grant money for it and I want to help in the community.” WRONG ANSWER!!! Having a nonprofit is not just about getting grant money, which there is not guarantee you will receive, it’s about having a purpose and mission. If a grant was not given to you, could you still operate your nonprofit? A nonprofit is a business and some people see it as a hobby. Honestly, that’s how we started. I saw it as something we wanted to do to help in the community. But things started to change, more people started coming to us then I had to realize it was more than a hobby, this was a job! A nonprofit requires a business plan just a for profit business. Yes, it’s a humble response when you say you want to help others but realistically if you don’t have the funding to keep the nonprofit then don’t start. You may ask what type of funding do I need? It’s only a nonprofit. Again WRONG! How will you market your nonprofit? When you have events, how will you pay for it? When someone needs your help, how will you help when there are no donations? Where will you house the nonprofit? How will you pay for your gas to travel to different potential sponsors to even meet them? These are just a SMALL amount of questions I would ask.
Now if you answered all those questions with great answers, next I will say what will make your nonprofit different? There are over 100 nonprofits alone in Memphis. We are all doing something to help make the community better. What will be your niche? Who will be on your board? Many make mistakes by having family and friends on the board. This is a great start but when you start growing you will need others outside your family and friends. How will you get others to buy into what your nonprofit has to offer and what will you be able to offer them to stay on your board. Remember a board member is a non-paying position and so is your position. What will you do now? How will you fund not only the organization but will you be able to pay yourself?
Again if you are thinking about getting a grant, the average grant writer will charge $1200 non-refundable for their service and still that’s not a guarantee that you will receive a grant. You have to take the time to research grants to determine what the best fit for your organization is. Some require you to be in existence at least 2 years to determine what you have accomplished and how much funding you have alone. Some may require that you have at least 1/2 of what you are asking for. Will you have that?
Starting a nonprofit is a blessing if done the correct way. You will need funding BEFORE starting your nonprofit. You don’t want to go broke trying to help others. One of my mentors told me that you have to have a financial foundation at home before you start building another home.
I hope this helps someone. If you have additional questions, please contact me at (901) 262-8642. I would love to talk with you more.