Starting a Non-Profit? Six Things You Need to KnowPat Fontana
When you see a need in your community, your first reaction might be that someone needs to start a non-profit to address that need. Perhaps that someone is you! Are you thinking about starting a non-profit? Here are six things you need to know to get your organization off to a positive start and carry it through to its success.
Examine the Need
There are approximately 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the US. Before starting yours, ask if there is really a need that you can fill. Research other groups in your intended focus area. Is someone already responding to the need? Will your non-profit create real change? Be honest with your assessment and with your answers to those questions.
Target your non-profit to provide a specific service or to serve a specific niche. Narrow down the list of ideas and possibilities to a small number of things your non-profit can do really well. There is a lot of need in the world, but you will be more effective if you target your mission.
Determine Who Will Be Involved
One thing you need to know as you are considering starting a non-profit is that you cannot do it alone. You will need board members, volunteers, individual supporters, and community supporters to make it a success.
The good news is, as other people become involved, they will also help guide your non-profit organization to more opportunities for success. They will become your marketing and fundraising arms as well. Choose your board to include a diverse set of interests and abilities. For example, you will need someone who is good with finances as well as someone who is good at engaging others in the community.
Develop a Business Plan
Just like a business, your non-profit organization needs a solid business plan. Start with developing a mission statement. This statement communicates your organization’s purpose and how it will fulfill that purpose. As you plan your non-profit, stay focused on your mission statement and make sure that every decision supports it.
File the Forms
Beyond the ideals of serving the community and doing good, there is paperwork to be done when starting a non-profit. You will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN will identify your organization for tax records and for other filings. It is required and should be your first step.
You will need to choose a name for your non-profit and then register that as well. In the state of Arizona, your organization’s name must satisfy certain requirements and cannot conflict with the requirements for professional corporations, other corporations, or other limited liability companies.
Among the things you need to know about starting a non-profit is that you will have to file articles of incorporation for your organization. One or more persons can form an Arizona corporation by filing Articles of Incorporation with the Arizona Corporation Commission. These persons are called “incorporators.” “Person” includes individuals and entities.
Develop a Fundraising Plan
Your organization will need a budget and funds to be able to complete the tasks and purchase the items in that budget. Think of your non-profit as a business as you develop the budget. This is an area where your board members can be very helpful also. Create a realistic budget after researching costs of an office space, staff, office supplies, a website, and all other aspects of being able to fill the need for which you are starting a non-profit.
The funds for that budget will typically come from individuals and other organizations within your community. You should investigate potential grant funding as well as corporate support. Create a realistic written fundraising plan, then enlist those volunteers and board members to help you with ideas and activities.
Connect with a Non-Profit Specialist
Keeping up with your non-profit’s finances can be challenging. A non-profit specialist can help you organize your information and prepare the reports that will be required on an ongoing basis for government agencies and for your board. You will need to provide financial reports at board meetings, typically monthly or quarterly. You will also need to be sure you adhere to all IRS reporting requirements to maintain your non-profit status.
A non-profit specialist, such as those at Clear View Business Solutions, are experts in helping you to prepare for audits, to prepare reports that are often required by grant funding, and to process your donations. Clear View also offers non-profit rates for our professional services.
CONTACT CLEAR VIEW BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FOR HELP STARTING A NON-PROFIT
There are many things you need to know about starting and operating a non-profit successfully. At Clear View Business Solutions, we have the expertise to help achieve your financial goals with professionalism and efficiency. We look forward to collaborating with you on your non-profit organization. Learn more by contacting Clear View Business Solutions to speak to our team about our services. Give us a call at (520) 544-0177.