For anyone who sees an unmet need in their community or has a passion to change things for the better or who works with non-profit organizations, or thinks that you want to start your own non-profit organization, I hope to get you started. Then I hope to walk you through the process in a way that you can learn and grow your passion into a viable organization.

Be assured that the question of money — where and how to get it to fund your passion — so you can pay your bills remains at the forefront of actually living your passion.

In this column, I will write about what it takes to move from passion to actually starting your non-profit organization and getting it up and running. Topics will include:

  • Getting Started — Steps to starting a non-profit organization
  • Programs, Projects and Activities
  • Fundraising
  • Grant writing
  • Building your donor base
  • Board development
  • Advisory councils
  • Communications and outreach
  • Budgets/Finance/Accounting
  • Creating income generating activities
  • Organizational growth and development
  • Partnerships, networks and coalitions

Getting Started
There are quite a few steps to take before your non-profit can become operational.

  • Get organized: Buy a box of manila file folders and keep yourself and your records organized.
  • Name: What do you want to call your organization?
  • Address: Use a street address — not a PO Box.
  • Logo: Decide on your colors and ask a graphic design student of  to create one for you.
  • Mission: Define your mission — what do you want to do and how.
  • Mission Statement: Write a mission statement that summarizes your mission and is clear and concise.
  • Programs: What will the organization do, and how will your organization fulfill the mission?
  • Board of Directors: Who else will join you on this adventure?
  • Start-up funding: You need some. Do you have start-up money? Or a donor lined up to give?
  • Federal Tax ID #: Either go online or call the IRS to be assigned a Federal EIN for your organization (you must have a name, a street address and a contact person to do this step).
  • State Registration: Contact your Secretary of State to find out which forms you need to fill out to become an officially incorporated non-profit organization in the state where you establish your organization.
  • Bank Account: Open a non-profit bank account and ask them to donate your first round of checks. You have to have your Federal Tax ID # to open a bank account.
  • IRS exempt status: Apply for non-profit 501(c)(3) status from the IRS once you are incorporated in your state as a non-profit organization.

“There’s no such thing as tainted money — there just t’aint enough of it!”