How does one start in the business? Is there a right answer? Suppose the problem isn’t how you start, but how you complete your establishment?
Let’s begin. Here are the six tools you need to succeed as a nonprofit:
There’s a problem when people start their nonprofits, and it surprises them that a Mission Statement has to be so important. It’s the lifeblood of the company, so of course, people need to be careful in what they write. Naturally, it should only be one sentence, one statement. You can enjoy all the commas you want, but it needs to be just that. To write it properly, you have to know why it’s important. It’s your goal, what you want your company to be. Is it a facility to house the homeless, is it a community that supports a library, what is it? And from there you can enjoy adopting it into your paperwork, and in case it’s not working for you, you can always vote a new mission in later.
If a Mission Statement is your action, then your Vision Statement needs to be your reaction. You’ve settled with what you want your company to be, now you need to decide on how your audience should act. Do they need to change their mind about a social injustice, do they need to donate to a third world country, will they become a beneficiary for an underprivileged student? Think about it, and marketing and management won’t be as hard.
I’m pretty sure you incorporated before considering the first two problems. Your Mission Statement was decided by your current group whose wish is to do things with tax deduction and a successful charity in mind. You wouldn’t be the first. And so, you incorporate. You go for a nonprofit in your state, and possibly a 501c3 status registry. Naturally, you’ll be asked “are you a charity or foundation?”, and you’d like to call yourself a foundation, but not distribute 15% of your revenue to other nonprofits, so you go for charity. You choose to either be a school, church, or “other” type of organization. More than not, you’ll be in “other.” You’ll need to explain what you’re giving away as charity, and though you answered education or food for the homeless, you’ll have to talk to the IRS anyway. This takes about three to six months, and will probably bother you in how slow it takes to process legalities and paperwork. Welcome to the nonprofit world!
Whether you like it or not, you’ll need to manage volunteers. Your company can’t grow otherwise. People need community service, they’re looking to build a new resume for a different career, and sometimes nothing has given them a better chance for their soul to grow, so they turn to organizations, like yours. Luckily, they are waiting for you on VolunteerMatch.com. Remember to write thank you letters, mention their hours and if they need tax deduction receipts from your organization. Any of your officers can sign for that. But in case you’re bothered by how much background checks you need to do, or surveys they have to fill out, tell yourself this: they are free employees. Who doesn’t want that? More than not, these people will make a better CEO that you’ll ever be, but instead you’re leading them. Best to give them the keys and let them build that community for you, and leave them with the right to vote by joining your governance committees. It sounds awkward, but from experience, they usually are your blessings in disguise. Also, treat them well. It’s easy to forget they’re volunteers, but thank them frequently, and your reputation will spread like wildfire.
For all the wrong answers, here’s where you’ll find it. Business law changes every two years. And just in case you’re wondering why Grantors are not paying attention to you, you may have to read the fine lines this site has to offer. From the Whistleblower Protection Policy, to your volunteer’s gender (and their sex), you’ll learn everything from this Guidestar. You’ll be amazed how behind you’ve been, and how many more perks there are signing in to this site. And in case you’re worried about all your private information may be treated, no one is allowed to look at your reports without paying a hefty fee. An account here will give you discounts and free offers from nonprofit sites that help other nonprofits grow, and after they share your info to Grantors, your accounting problems won’t be so problematic anymore. No one is left behind, Guidestar can make your business so much clearer to deal with. Enjoy the Grants 🙂
And just in case neither of these sites suffice your convenience, there is always idealist.org. Usually, people suggest this site first and foremost, when you start, but I’ve found more success with the prior two sites, and have returned to idealist.org for any last resort, especially when all hope seems lost. Idealist.org is your one stop for all of your nonprofit needs. Want to learn how the business works? Need to hire a CEO? Are you looking for a job in the nonprofit industry? Then come here. Volunteers don’t seem to react much in this site, but if you’re working more like a for profit company than a church or school, then please give idealist.org a try. See what works best for you, and don’t forget to do your research.
Too many times, I’ve met people who demand to have a website for their businesses. As a freelance web designer and publicist, I always had to advise that websites are a necessity. But after a while, I had to give up web designing, and confess the real issue:
Not everyone really needs a website.
There Are Social Networks Made Just For You
If you’re a restaurant, you’re probably thinking, “I need people to find me online, donwnload my menu, and call us for reservations, deliveries, etc.” You’re half right, and you’re not wrong. Many big restaurants have websites, and everyone wants their kind of attention, but it’s more hassle than one can imagine. If you’re a mom-and-pop shop, chances are, all you need is people to call your shop, and deliver away. A website will demand more than just your customers, but yourself. You’ll have to check on your emails, see if people commented, and when you’ve become heavily reliant on your site for everything; chances are, you might actually ignore your business, especially when a server crashes. Your best bet is to get on GrubHub or Eat24, or some equivilence to them, and let them market for you. They have apps people order from, a payment system, and usually a staff of one to five hundred people to prevent any server crash or other problems. And if you’re not a restaurant, you’ll probably face the same issues too.
Because You’re A Technophobe
People like killing the middle man, so understand that you’ll be making a lot of threats against your web designer or publicist over things you’ll never understand. For all you know, they’re jipping you of $500, and for some reason you’re website is not paying the bill. You’ll demand for them to come over to your house frequently, fix your iPhones, and maybe even join you shopping for your next DSLR…whatever that is. More than likely, what you’re asking for is either Facebook or Geek Squad, your website may not be for you.
SEO Is Not As Effective
I don’t care what people are telling you, SEO is an old business that’s been obselete since Snapchat. The problem with SEO is that it constantly fights against the newer algorithms online. To explain, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, meaning, it finds things faster on the internet. Algorithms, on the other hand, automates SEO according to the user. So suppose you want your business found, the algorithm will pop your brand and address to that user who so happen to like what you’re selling. People stopped searching on Google thanks to this. Hiring freelancers to manipulate it won’t make any easier, after being spoiled with such conveniences. In fact, you might even deter people from contacting you, seeing as you’ll be irrelevant in their list of interest. Even YouTube has an Ad Remover thanks to how invasive marketers have become…
A Website Is Suppose To Be Your Manager
A Secretary is valuable because that employee will answer phone calls, letter, visiting clients, and schedule your whole month for you. And if your site is doing less than that, then you are getting jipped! Most people believe that your site is made for clients to call, and it’s made to attract people to your service. No. That’s a business card, that’s a flyer, an agent, a publicist. Everything but a website. Websites explain your service, answer people’s questions, it may allow them to contact you, but it should also allow you to confirm when that should be. It is convenience in a screen. Websites are now easier to maneuver on your phone, it connects to incredible apps, like Google Maps and Twitter, and it helps people entertain themselves without you being there. In short, your website should be your Manager, not your other job. You’re being insufficient if you’re not making it work for you.
Your Business Is Not A Web Company
To be frank, anyone can have a website. Some build companies online, and some build brick and mortar – it’s up to you. This isn’t to discourage anyone from progressing their client base internationally with the reach of the internet, nor will it blame insufficiencies in any industry. On the contrary, this is made to ask you, the reader, the entrepreneur, “Why?” Because some people really can’t stand using the internet, and it’s all right to say, “That’s fine.” There are alternatives, and not everyone needs to hire a Web Designer or a Publicist. If you don’t create your own site, then simply create an account in a network that people use, and be reached. Because that’s all you need, right?
When deciding to start a nonprofit company, the first thing people think is charity and profit. As much as that is true, the rules aren’t as simple to accomplish either. Paperwork is immense, and the Government demands for frequent reports. But perhaps with these following steps, you can maneuver your way in the business, whether you’re a starting founder or a new member.
In nonprofit companies, there is a form frequently used, called a 501(c)3. This form allows you to make all donations tax exempt, and allow your business freedom from paying it’s own tax by sending tax reports through forms like form 990 and 3500A. Naturally, there are other types of 501(c)’s, such as Associations, Private Foundations, etc., but that’s more research for your lawyer to work out.
Getting on your feet isn’t hard
In the nonprofit world, there are businesses whose mission is to help other nonprofits get on their feet. If you’re in need of doing something simple, you can start with a personal grant; if you need to get an office, you can get into an incubation program; if you want an established nonprofit to manage the 501(c)3 status for you, go find a Fiscal Sponsor. There is life before the 501(c)’s, but once you have your own, you’ll be able to get discounts and more free stuff on your own. Either way, you’re not left on your own.
Volunteers are everywhere
Just when you thought volunteering for a nonprofit was just for Ushering and Community Service, you’ll come to learn very quickly that even the Boards, Committees, Advisers, and Executives are many times working for free. If you’re interested in being a big fish in a little pond, this is where you can get that resume started. Everyone does it, and it makes a huge jump in one’s career.
Administration is real security
If you’re wondering how to get rich quick in the business, then you’ll have to be either the CEO, Officer, or the Lawyer that incorporates these charity machines. But the deal is, CEO’s usually move on after they’ve completed their task, the incorporation industry has been monopolized by legalzoom.com, and only the secure paying jobs are the positions where the Board has a say in your work: President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Regular employees and managers are a rarity.
Programs make too much money
If you’re lucky, you’ll be a teacher or mentor in a nonprofit program. Some people think that the arts are a joke, since the term “starving artist” was coined. But surprisingly, teaching dance, music, or calligraphy is a fantastic source of income for many organizations. This is also where the Grants are most effective. Please research, as most Grants change in requirements in a matter of a year or so.
Grants are not for everyone
As much as Grants are the easiest go-to answers in how to fund your nonprofit, it may not be the wisest. Much of your time will be going into building your governance and managing programs, and alternatives will typically become the necessity, more than not. As much as you can give tax deductions to all your donors, you should be advertising to profit from merchandise, tuition, and/or memberships. It’s not uncommon to be rejected from Grants.
Free services are insanely effective
Some people will work for free, in exchange for community service hours or letters of recommendation; Sponsors will throw money into your event if you give them your demographics and annual reports; and In-kind Donors, like Google and Microsoft, will give free products just for being established for three years. Just ask around, and you can manage your assets for maximum perks.
Collaborating with For-Profits and Non-Profits
The tides can get hard for your nonprofit, and at times, your cause might be irrelevant to the fashion. So hence, you can build up your worth by collaborating with another business. Not all the money has to be donated to the cause you’re collaborating with; and tax deduction can be given to the for-profits of your choice. It’s synergy at its best!
Societies, Members, and Patrons
Fundraising can get difficult, and at times, it’s not the marketing team’s fault. It just happens. When this occurs, it is best to allocate money from your Members. These members could be standing committees, chapters, or Patrons of your company, and they are there to keep your business sustained. It may not be a pretty alternative, but it is your most realistic method of keeping finances afloat.
Research is oxygen
People like to kill the middle man. Do yourself the favor, and research everything yourself. It hurts to be left behind, and as slow as this industry may be, thanks to the paperwork you’re about to take on each season, a lot will change for the next set of nonprofits necessary for the new generation of people-in-need. So look online, go to seminars, talk to other CEO’s – there’s always room to grow, you just have to keep educated.