October 04, 2012
Many of us feel a passion to be of service to a specific cause. Maybe its animals, or child abuse victims or Mother Earth calling you to do something…to do something special, important and memorable. Does this sound like you? I applaud your passion and desire to serve. But before you embark on forming a new 501(c)(3), I hope you will ask yourself a few questions posed below. If after considering these questions you remain ready to champion your cause with a new 501(c)(3), schedule a consultation with Hunter Law Tampa Bay today; it would be our honor to help you achieve your vision for a better world.
- Does the World Need What You Want to Offer?There are numerous nonprofits already championing causes all over the world. What will make your nonprofit unique? Is there truly a need for a new nonprofit, or should you use your talents to assist an existing nonprofit instead? Make sure that you educate yourself about the other nonprofits that are already serving the cause you envision serving. How will you compete with these nonprofits for grants and donations? What will attract volunteers to serve your new organization? Should you narrow your mission to make it more unique and easier to differentiate?
- Know YourselfAre you more than an idea person? Can you execute your vision for your non-profit, and stick with it? Do you recognize the importance of hiring an experienced Executive Director and amassing a qualified Board of Directors? What role will you play? Fundraiser? Visionary leader? Administrator or grass roots worker, in the trenches? Be sure to be honest with yourself and know which hats you will wear and which positions you need to fill.
- Commit to Transparency and EthicsAbove all else, people who found 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations must understand that they are stewards of money donated in good faith. You must account for how each penny is spent. On any given day, you should be able and willing to tell your volunteers and funding sources what you have done with the fruits of their labor and generosity. You must inspire a culture within your organization of maximizing the percentage of income that is spent to achieve the mission of the nonprofit. This requires a commitment to vigorous oversight.
- Be Realistic About Reeling in the MoneyI believe in the generosity of people and the evidence is boundless. Yet dollars are not boundless and nonprofits are in competition for limited funds, every day. For many non-profits their survival is as hand-to-mouth as the people they serve. It is dangerous to assume “if I build it, they will come.” You have to have a strategy of financial support that includes multiple sources, both short and long term. Until you know what your sources will be and how to secure those funds, do not begin your journey. One great way to learn how to successfully launch and run a nonprofit is to volunteer on committees or boards of other nonprofits. Are you educated on the dollars and sense of running a non-profit?