How to Start an Organization

How to Start a Nonprofit

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are left wondering how to help struggling communities. While starting a nonprofit organization to raise money and gather resources for those in need is both admirable and necessary work, it can require a lot of planning and logistical coordination. Here are some basic steps to get you started.

Analyze Your Community’s Needs

Do your research! Regardless of how you want to serve your community, there may already be dozens of organizations doing the exact same thing. It will be harder to secure support for a new organization when there are more established ones already in the market. That said, if you’re offering more unique services and you have the resources to sustain it, you’re on the right path!

Write Your Mission Statement

Your mission statement will include your purpose, your goals, how you’re serving your community. Every action you take, every decision you make will be influenced by this guiding principle. Be clear, concise, and purposeful. Learn about the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement, and get writing!

Make a Plan

Once you have your mission statement, you need a full-fledged business plan. Think three to five years out. What does your budget look like? Your marketing? How is your business organized, what does recruiting look like, and how will you go about fundraising? This is your place to be detailed, thoughtful, and organized.

File Your Paperwork

Depending on your industry, location, and business plan, you’ll have specific forms to complete. You may need to incorporate but not qualify for a 501(c)(3), or you may qualify for 501(c)(3) and also need to register as a charitable solicitor. Check with your state department as these regulations vary by region.

Invest in Member Management

While a simple organization of two to five people may be able to get away without a system, any larger business will need some sort of member management system. Look for something that can help you store information, communicate with your donors and board members, collect dues, and allow your members access through a simple portal to make interactions with your organization as seamless as possible.

Stay Compliant

Once you’ve gotten things up and running, you’ll need to ensure that you do everything necessary to keep your organization running smoothly. This includes regular board meetings, filing information with your state government, and re-registering necessary items as needed.

If you’re looking to start a nonprofit, or are already engaged with one and need help managing your members, Join It is here for you. Schedule a demo, or try us out for free for 30 days.

Guide for Starting Student Clubs

Starting a student organization allows potential members to find your group by becoming known through university channels. Students want to be involved, to contribute. What’s more, your university may even allow you access to digital or printed marketing materials. Other opportunities that might come with registering a student group include:

  • Community of like-minded students during your tenure at school
  • Networking that can last a lifetime: future jobs, anyone?
  • Access to school facilities like conference rooms
  • Funding: many schools allocate funding to organizations that meet a stated amount of interest from the student body
  • Faculty advisors who can provide valuable guidance during and after your college career

With the benefits in mind, now we just need to figure out how to get started. We’ve gone ahead and pulled together set of steps to help you along your way. Your exact university may vary in their policies, but these should be a good place to start.

  1. Develop your concept: what is your club going to center around? An idea (politics, religion, etc.)? A goal (e.g. getting a job in finance)? An activity (football, trivia, or pub attendance)?
  2. Document your concept: in writing and build a home on the web that you can share with others. Include a mission statement and details around participation, like expected an gathering schedule
  3. Gauge interest: odds are, if you are passionate about a certain subject, so are others. You just need to find them. Start with your friends, and expand into other circles like classrooms where you might find like-minded students. Some universities may even require a minimum level of interest, requiring student signatures as a baseline
  4. Seek out an advisor: typically, advisors are part of your school’s faculty, but consider advisors outside of your university if their expertise might be valuable to your club’s stated mission
  5. Paperwork: inevitably, your university will need some form of documentation, especially if there is a funding component. Use these forms as an opportunity to show the work you’ve completed in steps 1-4 :)
  6. Build your group: assuming your paperwork passes administrative review with flying colors, now it’s time to get the word out. Start with the folks you chatted about when gathering signatures to gauge interest, and encourage them to tell their friends. Consider planning a kick-off event too! Free pizza and beer is hard for anyone to turn down.

As I mentioned, these steps may vary from school to school. Use them as a framework to help you hone your idea and seek out help.

Once you’re up and running, check out Join It’s useful suite of membership management software. We help student groups stay organized and grow their membership base with tools for communication, event ticketing and planning, membership payment processing, and tracking of membership status.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to if you’d like to chat with one of our experts about configuring a membership program.

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