9 Things You Should Know Before You Start a Non-profit

One year ago today, Spring-UP Global Network embarked on its first outreach dubbed; Come Alive Tour. More than twenty volunteers celebrated the end of school term with the children of the orphanage. We discussed Self-esteem from our mentorship course outline. We also had a dance competition, played some games and donated some items to the orphanage to support the up-keep of the children during the school holidays.

It was a fulfilling experience for most of us.

Together, we’ve worked to embark on projects to help us achieve our mission statement including The Book Expedition, Jaa Ojoormo and five Volunteer Master Classes. We’ve also launched a reading campaign dubbed iRead iLead Campaign through which we’re currently refurbishing a school library in the Volta region of Ghana. Spring-UP Global Network has also had the opportunity to collaborate with other non-profits to have a mentorship session in the Ashanti region as well as a volunteer workshop in Accra.

When my boss at work tasked us to write our personal development plans two years ago, starting a non-profit was fourth on the list of my 5-year plan.

Although I was committed to a number of community development projects during my undergraduate studies, I’ve been more involved in the last twelve months.

I have picked up great lessons in the past twelve months, some I read in books, others I learnt from more experienced charity workers, some I studied from my project and operations management course, others I learnt from my team of volunteers and others I learnt through practice and observation.

If you plan to start a non-profit, these nine tips could guide you.

  1. Be Clear on Your Mission Statement

Like many organizations, your non-profit should have a clear mission statement. This will guide you to decide which projects to engage in and which ones will not aid you to achieve your mission statement.

2. Decide which type of Nonprofit you want to be.

Do you want to be an advocacy, charitable, service oriented, participatory or an empowerment NGO? Decide and stay consistent with the type of nonprofit you choose. Deciding on which pattern you want your non-profit to take will make you adapt the most efficient methods in solving your community’s problems.

3. Choose a Memorable name

Choose a name that easily communicates your vision. The general public should remember your name with ease. When choosing a name, note that simple is classy.

4. Design a Precise Profile of Your Organization

Develop a profile which clearly defines your vision, mission, objectives, organizational structure and projects you plan to execute. Keep updating this profile as you execute projects and engage in other activities.

5. Speak to Interested and Available volunteers

Maybe this was one of the difficult steps for me. If you have so many network of friends, this might be a big deal for you. But if you have just a few friends who might not be interested in joining your non-profit, you can look out for one of your friends who has a rich network. Such a person can speak to other people on your behalf.

Be sure to bring on board only interested and available volunteers. Remember this is charity work and you will need a committed team to achieve the objectives of your non-profit.

Also have in mind that, a team of three committed and enthusiastic volunteers can achieve more than a group of a hundred unreliable and dormant volunteers. Allow volunteers to willingly join the team. As your non-profit grows, do well to engage the services of a patron and other executives for the organization. Remember, growth takes time but a solid team is more productive with time

6. Research places to have your first project.

You might have ideas or a particular place in mind for your first project. But you need to engage your team to make this decision. Do more research about the place. Define the beneficiaries of the project and ask yourself.

Do they need this project now?

Can we afford this project now?

When can we have this project?

Remember to offer interventions to people who need them so that the change you seek to make through your organization will be evident and received by the right audience.

7. Stay up-to-date with the use of the Various Social Media Channels.

Your non-profit will need social media visibility. As a startup, it is advisable to create the social media pages yourself. As your non-profit grows, you can consider sharing the pages’ administrative roles with trusted volunteers.

 If you’re familiar with the use of social media, this should be fun. If you’re not so much of a social media fan, you need to get ready to get familiar. Learn social media communication and marketing skills. Your non-profit needs to adapt high branding skills. How did you feel when you last saw a page on Instagram with low quality pictures and inconsistent captions? Yes, your captions, flyer designs and pictures give your followers an impression about you. Make sure it’s a good impression.

8. Create a Fundraising Plan

Design a fundraising plan that will work for your team. This will guide you through raising funds to support your initiatives.  Open a mobile money or bank account where all financial contributions can be made. It’s not so easy to have people give you money when they are not gaining monetary value or interest. Your fundraising plan should clearly communicate the importance of your project and why you need donors.


9. Register With the Government and Stay Compliant.

If your organization is starting in Ghana like me, register with the Registrar General’s Department. And then later register with the Department of Social Welfare. The registration documents will help you do so many things like opening a bank account, etc. Stay compliant with all the laws relating to nonprofits..

As you start a non-profit remember real development takes place at the community level and a single organization cannot solve the world’s problems. Focus on one community at a time to help you measure your impact. Connect with other charity workers, stay motivated, learn, act and make the social change you so desire.

Remember to follow the impact story of the non-profit I lead on all social media platforms.

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