5 Steps to Creating a Non-Profit

“Who I am is what changes the world,” said Kristin Keen, executive director of Rethreaded during the social entrepreneurship panel at Generation W 2014.  “When I live into who I am, and give it space, that’s really when change happens.”

So many people resonate with that statement and some (is it you?) are being moved to go beyond volunteering their time and talent.  A growing number of women are starting non-profits at the local, state and even national level and if you are one of them, here are 5 tips to get you started towards reaching your goal:

Gather Your Group
Talk about your non-profit idea to everyone you know and begin to gauge their level of interest.  Surrounding yourself with people who share your vision will not only help you stay positive and motivated, but will get things moving at a much quicker pace.

Identify the Need
The SBA states there are over 1.4 million non-profits nationwide, so doing a community assessment will help you discover the true needs of your community and how you can fill the gap between what is being done and what you will be doing. Click here for a great resource on questions to ask yourself as you identify your community need.

non-profit-iconMake a Connection
Once you have identified local, state or even national agencies that may be doing similar work, reach out to those group leaders and ask them to share their insight.  This will give you practical ideas for how to recruit volunteers, raise funds and even spread the word.  These relationships will be pivotal as you move forward with your work.

Create a Business Plan
Yes, even a community organization or non-profit needs a good business plan.  In addition to helping you establish goals and creating operation logistics, a good business plan is also needed to receive funding and to help recruit volunteers and board members.   To get you started, checkout Bplans.com for free samples of nonprofit business plans.

Incorporating your non-profit will allow you to apply for grant money, solicit tax-deductible contributions and protect you from personal liabilities.  The incorporation process is similar to that of for-profit companies, the only real difference is you will need to apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS.   About.com offers a great “how to” for non-profit incorporation.

Once you have the foundation of your organization set, you can begin to host events/meetings, establish fundraising strategies and get the word out about what you are doing and how others can be involved.  Always give people a call to action—create different levels of how they can help provide a solution.


What tips do you have for starting a community organization and/or non-profit?