How to Start a Nonprofit

Tips, tricks and more for the aspiring do-gooder

 

So, you want to know if starting a nonprofit is right for you. In your gut, you can feel the passion you embody toward making a greater impact in your community. You recognize that the nonprofit world can be a tough feat, but your desire to do good and share it with others is too resilient. You know you have a worthwhile mission, a dedication to that mission and a team of like-minded supporters who are equally committed to those same beliefs. Your heart carries faith in all the greatness you could accomplish, but you find yourself timid and uncertain about how to take your motivations to the next level.

The good news is that in having a unique mission, a strong dedication and a group of compatible supporters, you’ve already taken your first step — maybe without even knowing it. Bob Hoffman, founder of ePIFanyNow, shares about the accidental start of his nonprofit, and how sometimes all it takes is a little heart and soul to get things off the ground and running. “I just started organizing these ‘pass it forward’ events once a month,” said Hoffman, “People would come and share their stories about positive changes they’ve made within their communities, and it became a huge hit. As I started hosting more of these events, venues were requesting a nonprofit number from me to rent the spaces. We didn’t have one at the time, so I figured if we wanted to keep up what we were doing, we better start a nonprofit.”

At ePIFanyNow, the mission is to create a revolution of positive and transformational experiences through expediential acts of kindness. While Hoffman agrees that starting his own nonprofit was a lot of work, a lot of dedication and much more labor-intensive than ever anticipated, it gave him a sense of peace and purpose. “The world can be negative, and it can be hard,” Hoffman noted. “But when you’re on the right path, and doing what you love, the world will send signs to remind you that you’re exactly where you should be.” In taking a small concept by storm, such as simply sharing a smile with others, and reforming it into something much bigger, Hoffman has been able to do wonders for the Lansing community, and stay “exactly where he should be,” for the past 10 years.

For people like Hoffman, nonprofit difficulties truly begin presenting themselves when the utilization of heart and soul only goes so far. As a nonprofit begins progressing and attempting to maintain itself, the need for finances, resources and structure becomes much greater. Nonprofit Network Executive Director Regina Pinney said, “My first question to someone looking to start their own nonprofit is always, give me a clear why as to how your mission is different from others.” Pinney continued, “In the United States, we have over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations, and 50,000 in the state of Michigan. People don’t realize the sheer number of organizations out there, and the shortage of generous people who have enough disposable income to sustain them.”

The key for success in nonprofit creation truly relies on an individual’s solidification of the “why you” statement. Building this important foundation will not only bring purpose to your efforts, but to all the outsiders looking in to help — from funding to volunteerism. Seek out similar nonprofits who are experiencing success, and look at how and why they’re funded. Consider if their strategy is best for you to mirror, or if it can be done differently and better. Be certain to ask a lot of questions, use your resources, plan strategically and don’t be keen on moving too quickly. As they say, nothing good comes easy. When it comes to transforming your community, the results are worth the wait.

For more information on how to start a nonprofit, visit: nonprofitnetwork.org

To learn more about ePIFanyNow, visit: epifanynow.org.

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