Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy working on creating a program for visionaries who have an idea for a nonprofit program but don’t know where to start. Part of my prep has included interviewing those very people to get an understanding of what questions they have about turning their idea into reality.

Hearing their questions was really eye-opening for me and I wanted to share my recommendation for the first step to take in order to make your vision a reality… And isn’t what you think. 😉

Ok, so the top questions that I heard were: 

  1. How do I file to be a 501(c)3? 
  2. Who should be on my Board?
  3. How do I know this idea will even work? 
  4. Do I have time for this, on top of all my other commitments? 

And, listen, I understand why those questions come up. When you Google, “how to start a nonprofit”  the top pages all give step-by-step instructions which include things like choosing a business name, appointing a Board of Directors, deciding on a legal structure, filing your incorporation paperwork, applying for tax-exempt status, etc.

It is a LOT! You can get tired just reading all of the steps! It becomes clear that leading a nonprofit is a job, requiring considerable commitment, and the decision to start one should not be taken lightly.  

But, guess what? Those steps are not needed to get your nonprofit idea launched. 

Now, I’m NOT recommending that you ignore federal and state laws and regulations. 

But, here’s the thing. You can file all the paperwork correctly and assemble the best people for your Board of Directors. But, those tactical pieces don’t necessarily mean you will have a successful organization.  

Instead, I’m recommending that you start with a test of your nonprofit idea.

Because, frankly, it doesn’t make sense to start a nonprofit if you don’t know if there are a need and demand. 

Instead of focusing on the tactical pieces, focus on getting clear on what problem you’re hoping to solve, who your audience is, what your solution is, and creating a short term test of your idea. Taking this approach is a low risk, potentially high reward situation. 

The risk is low because it means you saved yourself countless hours taking care of the tactical pieces. And the reward is high because you have the potential to positively impact members of your community very quickly.  

Once you know whether or not your idea is needed and wanted, you can decide whether to pursue the idea further, pass it on to someone else, or abandon it altogether. 

Stayed tuned for next week’s message where I share my new program for visionaries who want to start a nonprofit program!

And, if you’re interested in learning more right now, send me a message and I’ll share the details!