How to Start a Nonprofit: Concept Development

Nonprofit Concept Development
This is the second part in a five-part series on how to start a nonprofit organization. Keep in mind that the sequence in which you complete these tasks may vary, but each is important.  This post will explore the steps involved in Concept Development.

1.  Draft Mission and Vision Statements:  A good mission statement describes exactly what your organization does in just 2-3 sentences and serves as the cornerstone of your developing programs.  Likewise, your vision statement is the framework for all your strategic planning and should project the results of your organization in a way that inspires participation.

2.  Identify clients, partners, and competitors:  Starting a nonprofit, just like starting a business, is largely about relationships.  Seek out opportunities to get to know others in your field.  Who you know always matters.

3.  Identify funding sources:  If your initial fundraising strategy consists of landing one or more big-dollar grants within your first few months, you might want to re-think your plan.  Better to have your first year of funding in place prior to launch.  Important note: Individual donors are still the bread and butter of most successful nonprofit organizations.

4.  Create a business plan or summary of activities that includes how you will structure, staff, market, house, fund, and sustain your concept:  Even if you’re not the business plan type, keep in mind that the IRS requires a descriptive ”Narrative of Activities” as part of the 501c3 application process.

5.  Share your plan with potential board members and advisors.  Ask for feedback:  Your support team, if put together thoughtfully, will be your greatest asset during the startup process and beyond.  Use them well and often.

In Part 3 of this series we’ll explore the importance of Formation and Organizational Process.

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