Learn to Start a Nonprofit With 6 Easy Steps

by | Jul 30, 2020

start a nonprofit

Do you have a service or a cause that you are passionate about? Are you looking for ways to change the circumstances around that cause? If so, then starting a nonprofit is a tremendous idea!

Many people have an idea for a nonprofit that they would be interested in starting, but are unsure of how they should put their plans into action. Fortunately, it is not as difficult as it might seem.

All you need to do is learn the proper steps, then follow them as best as you can. See below for tips on how to start a nonprofit that will be both successful and helpful to others.

1. Set Your Mission

One of the biggest reasons that you might want to set up a nonprofit is due to the glaring need for the cause you are choosing.

Just to clarify, there might already be nonprofits out there to support the same cause that yours will, but your nonprofit might go about it a different way. 

For example, there are many different nonprofits that go towards finding a cure for cancer. However, some of them are focused on raising those funds via marathons, call-a-thons, and many different methods that resonate better with some people.

The mission of your nonprofit should be clear and concise. What are you hoping to achieve? How are you hoping to achieve it? Who will help you on this journey?

2. Perform Market Research

You would not start a business without identifying the need for a specific product or studying your potential competitors within that industry first. It is the same thought process here! Performing market research gives you a clear image of what you’re walking into.

Are there already nonprofits or for-profit organizations that are set up to help your cause? If so, how many of them are there? What is their approach to helping with this cause? What does their mission seem to be? Are some of them well-established?

It is important to remember that a nonprofit collects its cash from donors. If the market is already flooded with nonprofits like yours, you might find it hard to reach donors. They might already have built loyalty with another nonprofit’s brand.

3. Put A Leadership Team Together

Odds are, you’ve already got a few people that are interested in getting involved with your nonprofit when you start it up. These might be friends, relatives, parents of kids that are affected by your cause, and so on.

It is vitally important that you establish a leadership team prior to launch. The beauty of having people willing to help your cause is that you can use their individual talents.

For example, some of them might have experience starting a company or being on the board of a nonprofit in the past. Those types of people are a perfect fit for your board of directors.

You will also want to dive into the finer details of things, such as: Who will be the executive director (even if it’s yourself) be? What are the duties and responsibilities of your volunteers?

You should take this initial stage as an opportunity to write clear and concise duties for anyone that volunteers moving forward. That way, they (your volunteers) know exactly what they are getting into from the get-go. This can also help you when recruiting volunteers.

4. Set Your Finances

One of the most important aspects of creating a successful nonprofit is how you set up and maintain your finances. Do you have a plan for where to put your donations in when you receive them? Are you investing your funds from the start?

Accounting for a nonprofit is much like a business. You need to be strategic in how you invest the money you receive. Some funds need to go towards the cause, and some funds need to go towards processes such as operations, upcoming events, etc.

In order to learn how to start a nonprofit that renders results, you need to be practicing fiscal discipline. 

Of course, you can benefit from getting your finances in order with the help of a professional nonprofit accountant. Be sure to schedule a meeting to learn more about the ins and outs of nonprofit accounting.

5. File Tax Exempt Forms

In order to establish yourself as a legal and reputable nonprofit, you will need to complete a document known as a 501(c)(3) form. 

Filling out this form means applying for the term 501(c)(3) through the IRS, who will rank you as a nonprofit business. This means that your organization was approved by the IRS and is now deemed a tax-exempt organization for charity.

The process can also be performed by yourself. However, you might want to seek help from a nonprofit accountant or a lawyer that specializes in 501(c)(3) forms.

6. Establish a Brand

Lastly, it is time for you to take the time to create a brand that will resonate with your donors, volunteers, and those affected by the cause.

Your brand will be built on things like your nonprofit’s colors, logo, and name. This will help you build a reputation in a crowded marketplace of ideas and organizations. The more people can understand and agree with your brand, the more they will support your efforts.

Take time to think through what brand you are trying to create. What colors can you use to fulfill that? What logo or symbol will best capture your purpose?

Start a Nonprofit With These 6 Steps

Now that you have learned several steps on how to start a nonprofit, it is important that you use these tips and tricks to your advantage.

Be sure to read this article for more information on the characteristics of a successful nonprofit and how you can go about achieving them.

For more inquiries, please be sure to reach out by requesting a quote via the online form at the bottom of this page. We would be happy to help you further!


Do You Struggle to Make Sense of Your Financial Statements?

Get our FREE GUIDE to nonprofit financial reports, featuring illustrations, annotations, and insights to help you better understand your organization's finances.

Get the free guide!



  1. 6 Factors to Consider When Hiring an Accounting Service for Nonprofits - The Charity CFO - […] find an accounting service that can help you just as much with your bookkeeping as it can with fundraising tips to…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: