I frequently get requests to discuss how to start a nonprofit organization. Most times the persons asking the question have no idea about nonprofit organizations.
Very often these are people that are affected by a disease or disorder. They are driven to do something, and the desire to “not let that happen to another family” is a strong motivator. The truth is that most medical issues already have strong, established nonprofit organizations that are doing the work that needs to be done.
The best way to satisfy the need is to volunteer at an organization that serves that need.
The reality of starting a nonprofit is that a) there needs to be a valid reason or cause, b) that it will offer a service or product that’s different, and c) that the services will be delivered better than anyone else. Unless these factors are present the chances to have a successful nonprofit are slim to none.
Consider: There are roughly 1.5 million nonprofits today, with about 50,000 new ones created each year. Jack Siegel of Charity Governance Consulting estimates that creating nonprofit costs roughly $5,000. That means that each year $250 million is spent just creating nonprofits – and that’s before they spend a dime actually helping people.
So if they still want to start a nonprofit I recommend:
- Finding out how many nonprofits are already servicing their specific cause
- Researching nonprofits on the internet
- Attending a workshop or seminar on starting a nonprofit
- Get a book on how to start a nonprofit and follow the guidelines.
- Volunteer at a nonprofit organization
Having a passion for a cause is important but we need to remember that a nonprofit is essentially a business after all.