Real Women's Stories: 'I Saw Children in Need and Had to Help'

These four women didn't turn away when they discovered kids who were sick, hungry, craving an education or so poor they didn't have clothes. Instead, they each found a way to give back. 

Have an idea for a charity? Get started with these five steps.

1. CLARIFY YOUR MISSION
Write a statement of one or two sentences, laying out your overall goals. Then evaluate the landscape: Is anyone else doing what you want to do? A fresh idea is important when competing for limited funds.

2. FORM YOUR TEAM
If you can’t get enough people to help you, that’s a big red flag. Nonprofits are by nature collaborative. Many states require at least three people on a nonprofit’s board of directors.

3. EDUCATE YOURSELF
Among the wealth of resources available, nolo.com is a good place to start. It provides step-by-step instructions on creating a nonprofit organization.

4. SKETCH OUT A STRATEGIC PLAN
Divide your plan into three areas: the nonprofit’s mission statement (mentioned in Step 1), its specific objectives and its programs. Let’s say your nonprofits broad mission is to improve literacy in your town. The goals would be specific things you want to target, such as improving test scores within five years. The programs are the actions you’d take to achieve your goals.

5. TACKLE THE BUREAUCRACY
Nonprofit corporations are created at the state level. Your state government—usually the secretary of state’s office—has the forms you need. If you hope to be grant-driven, seeking money from foundations or the government, consider applying for federal 501(c)(3) status. Most nonprofits don’t apply for that right away, but if you think you might, clarify whether you intend to do so before you create your corporation, so it is the type of nonprofit that could late be eligible under Internal revenue Service guidelines for 501(c)(3) status.

 

Source: Peri Pakroo, author of Stating and Building a Nonprofit and publisher of the magazine Pyragraph 

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