Volunteer smiling at camera with adoptable dog

1.  Think about what your nonprofit programs will be – in detail! 

When a nonprofit founder is thinking about starting, its easy to have a ‘big idea' but not think about the specifics. Have you put the cart way before the horse?  Who cares what the bylaws say about the President's duties or the nominating committee if you don't even have an outline of how you'll actually do stuff at the organization? And that is the information you need to know for your IRS application!

2.  Find professionals to help you

If you're a nonprofit founder reading this you probably aren't an expert in nonprofit accounting, policy best practices or IRS tax exempt entity compliance. Instead, you are an expert at the mission. You don't know what you don't know – as they say. Once you start, you'll be competing with other nonprofits. Organizations with years of experience and a team around them.

Don't go it alone – start building your team now. Make sure you put your best foot forward by finding professionals in law, accounting, HR, insurance, etc. so you present yourselves well and impress donors.

Shot of a man working at a large table, seen from behind, the rest of the seats are empty
Spare change fundraiser buckets

3.  Figure out where you will get funding from

Sometimes in the excitement of starting people forget to make fundraising plans. Its almost like some founders think that once they start a nonprofit and get tax exemption money will fall from the sky!  But it's not magic. Fundraising is hard work. What's your plan for fundraising? Who are your most likely donors? Why will people want to donate to this cause? Are there grants you can apply for? How much will it cost to run the program for one year? Figure that out and you have a recipe for success.

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