How to Start a Nonprofit
If you’re wondering how to start a nonprofit, kudos to you. It means that you want to make a positive difference and are willing to go above and beyond to ensure your mission is a success. Yes, it takes work, but what you put into it is what you get out of it — making the challenges worthwhile and the outcomes rewarding.
Considering all the work we do with nonprofits daily, and the Qbix team’s 100+ years of combined experience — not only in nonprofit accounting but in board participation, development, and marketing — we want to share several best practices for getting your nonprofit up and running.
Do Your Research
Before anything else, verify the need for your specific organization. Talk to your target demographic, conduct surveys, and better assess the enthusiasm behind your nonprofit idea. Confirm that starting a new nonprofit is the best way to help. Use the National Council of Nonprofits locator tool to find similar nonprofit organizations in your area and ensure your efforts aren’t redundant. Finally, don’t forget to name your organization and make certain the name isn’t already being utilized elsewhere.
There are several costs to consider when founding a nonprofit. First, you’ll need to incorporate your organization. Doing so removes your personal liability and helps bring in funding for your venture. You’ll also want to file for 501c3 status. Consider investing in a good accounting software program right from the start, as it will save you tons of time, money, and headaches. Also, be aware of the costs of building a website, obtaining effective CRM and marketing tools, securing office space, and adding future staff. Thoughtful preliminary budgeting will help your nonprofit get up and running quickly.
Make a plan
When creating a foundational plan for your nonprofit, think like a journalist. Consider the who, what, when, where, why, and hows that affect your nonprofit.
- The “who” goes beyond you and what kind of founder you’d be. Think about others, like who would be on your board, your volunteers, and your staff. Who are your funders? Who do you see donating to your cause?
- Create a business plan for the “what” — meaning what you plan to do. Include a definition of your mission, how the organization will be structured, budgets, marketing strategies, and fundraising plans.
- The “when” refers to date-sensitive items. These include your annual filings with state entities, annual federal reporting to the IRS (especially your IRS Form 990), financial reports shared with your board and funders, and contributions you acknowledge from individual donors.
- The “where” is not a place but more of a guide for where to get the best help. Be efficient with your time. You know that knowledge is one of the keys to success, so recruit volunteers that have experience in your mission. You will be relying on their experience to build your cadre of future volunteers. Work with attorneys and accountants who have significant nonprofit experience. Know where to turn to get expert help.
- Your “why” shows the rationalization behind why your brand-new organization is the best way to accomplish the mission. Document it.
- Your “how” is your plan for sustaining and growing your nonprofit over time. This is especially true for how you plan to raise money via:
This outline highlights the essentials to consider before forming a nonprofit, but we recommend reaching out to your state’s nonprofit association for more detailed assistance.
If your nonprofit is headquartered in Georgia, we encourage you to engage Georgia Center for Nonprofits. Qbix has been a proud corporate member of GCN for years and we’ve seen, firsthand, the support they provide the nonprofit community.
Bookmark the Qbix blog. Find topical quick-reads to future-proof your nonprofit.
And if you have questions about nonprofit accounting, feel free to contact us. Our seasoned team of nonprofit accounting experts is happy to help guide your new nonprofit to success. Plus, when you outsource your accounting, you’ll have more time to focus on your mission, which is why you started your nonprofit in the first place. So don’t wait. Schedule a chat today.
Non Profit Accounting Solutions
Qbix's goal is to provide the latest cloud-based accounting technology while delivering real-time visibility into your nonprofit's financials 24/7. Numbers are our passion, but providing your nonprofit with the financial expertise needed to facilitate growth and profitability is our top priority. And because no two organizations are the same, Qbix offers the flexibility you need to accomplish your nonprofit's goals.
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