In June 2017, I had the honor to teach a class for SCORE on how to assess whether nonprofit status is a path for a business idea. We had a great diverse body of students attend and therefore excellent interaction and questions.
In this workshop, we covered:
- The basic federal requirements to create & sustain a nonprofit
- How to find all those grants available – or not
- Assessing whether an idea or passion can turn into a successful nonprofit organization
- Next steps to fulfilling or modifying the dream
Assessment is key – don’t let the notion that there’s millions of dollars of “free, grant money” out there drive your decision-making to start a nonprofit. A good assessment includes these 5 components:
The Community’s Need must drive the decision-making process. Often it’s our own need to give back, make a contribution, solve a pressing social problem (maybe even one that we personally had to deal with like alcoholism, drug-addiction, abuse or poverty) that drives us to think – “I’ll start a nonprofit to help!” That desire to help is critical to success but not always a recipe for starting a nonprofit.
- Leader with Passion
Though you may be passionate about your quest to help, the leader with passion is actually only part of the other important parts. The other parts are equally necessary – especially when you first set out. And quite frankly, I’d assess the Leader after looking at the other components.
None of us does this nonprofit work alone! We need other nonprofits, other organizations and players – even the ones that might be considered competitive allies – to get the work done and have the correct mix of services the potential clients, patients, residents or members need.
- Skilled Volunteers
A nonprofit organization is governed by a group of volunteers, called the Board of Trustees. These volunteers have the final fiduciary responsibility for the nonprofit’s operations, success and failures. The Board shouldn’t just be good friends of the founder but people with a variety of business and social service skills equipped to meet the organization’s needs. Other volunteers are also often needed to deliver services in nonprofits. These positions should be assessed for risk and reward to the organization’s mission.
Yes, this indeed includes money, but not just that. Does the organization need office space, equipment, storage, licenses or certifications for example? What resources can be in-kind, donated or acquired for free with minor effort and without problematic obligation? Part of the assessment is to brainstorm on the resources needed – how to acquire and maintain them.
Luken Solutions has an assessment form for thinking through and planning on these 5 components. Contact me if you are interested in receiving this form or for additional help in deciding whether nonprofit is the path for your idea.