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Starting a Nonprofit Organization: 5 Steps

Have you thought about what it would be like to start your own nonprofit organization that drives change and serves your community?

People’s ability to get organized is the foundation of a democratic society. Starting your organization can be an effective way to gather people with the same vision as you and create long-term change. Making money isn’t the primary goal of nonprofit organizations but helping various causes and people in need.

The benefits of starting a nonprofit organization are numerous as you can set up clear structures for how you want to initiate change and create a better future.

However, starting a nonprofit can be a complex and time-consuming endeavor and you may encounter many unexpected challenges. Below, we share 5 tips on how you can begin the entire process and make a positive impact.

Determine Your Mission

Determining your mission early on in the start-up phase will allow you to make smarter decisions further down the line, focus your energy and give your undivided attention. Your nonprofit organization’s mission statement is essential as it defines what the nonprofit actually does, who it serves, and how it provides services.

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This statement will guide your stakeholders and employees and is necessary when you start applying for grants, fundraising or marketing your organization in any way. Avoid buzzwords, expert language, and generalities, and make sure the mission statement is simple, easy to understand, and unambiguous. It should be straight-to-the-point and give the public an idea of what you’re doing.

Create a Business Plan

If you want to set up a nonprofit organization, you must have a clear concept in mind. Conduct thorough research to refine your central concept and gain initial ideas on your nonprofit’s structure. 

To stay organized and execute your strategy, you need to create a good non profit business plan and stay ahead of the overall budgeting, analysis, and overview that will make or break your new venture. Since this is a living document, you must do your very best to explain your mission in detail and your goals. 

Unlike a mission statement, a business plan should include an organization overview, financial and operations plan, as well as a marketing plan. A proper business plan will help you have a clear focus and guide you in the right direction.


This can be the fun part of the process, but selecting a name for a nonprofit organization can also be challenging as it needs to be a strong name and the logo must be recognizable. In addition, this is how you will present yourself to the world so you want to come up with a name that is related to your nonprofit’s main cause but that is also unique. It should be easy to recall and pronounce and should not contain industry-specific or technical jargon.

Take your time and research some nonprofits to get some inspiration but make sure that the preferred name isn’t already trademarked. Once you decide on a name, look it up on government sites that offer access to their database of nonprofit names to avoid any trademark infringement or copyright lawsuits.

Constitute the Organization Legally

The next step is to begin your incorporation process. To successfully register your organization, you must comply with legal requirements, and follow any rules and laws. These may be different for various types of nonprofit organizations and may vary depending on whether you’re doing the registration in one state or multiple states. 

So, you should contact your state’s association of nonprofits and identify your state’s specific requirements so that then you can continue to focus on achieving your goals.


In conclusion, the basic steps for incorporating your nonprofit organization are registering the name, filling out articles of incorporation within your state, filling out state forms, and publishing articles of incorporation in a local newspaper.

Prepare a Marketing Strategy and Grow Your Nonprofit

Once you’ve formally established your nonprofit, it can begin distributing funds, collecting donations, and start working on projects. However, a crucial aspect of growing a nonprofit is preparing a marketing strategy that will let people know about its existence. 

Although each nonprofit is different and how you market it is totally up to you, you should still make sure to use all available channels such as social media, websites, etc. so you can effectively communicate with your target audience and inform them about your causes, projects, and events.

Final Thoughts

Starting a nonprofit organization in the right way will set it up for success. If you have a clear vision and drive to pursue your dream of establishing a nonprofit organization, these tips will help you create a solid foundation for your nonprofit and give you a proper chance to make a difference.

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