Other options: Starting your own non-profit

Rather than looking for a job when your term of service ends, you may have the motivation to start your own nonprofit.
Many well-intentioned people believe that the only or best way to organize a community-benefit program is to start a new nonprofit. If you are thinking of starting a new nonprofit, research the options thoroughly, and outline the costs involved for the short and long terms.
Things to keep in mind:
  • Nonprofits compete for limited resources, donor dollars, and community trust. In such an environment, is your approach to your issue innovative enough? How will you be sure not to duplicate the efforts of another nonprofit with similar mission, clientele, and scope?
  • Overhead costs tend to be fixed in the nonprofit sector. Can you afford to start and run a nonprofit for the foreseeable future?
  • Start-up nonprofits demand long hours and offer little, if any, pay.
  • Legally, opening a new nonprofit involves cutting through a lot of red tape, filing papers with local and federal government agencies, and keeping documentation of everything. Are you prepared for the administrative time and costs? Will you have time leftover to fulfill the mission of the new organization?
  • Closing a nonprofit when the mission is achieved, or if the nonprofit fails, can be hard too. Most nonprofits have a relatively short life span. Doing all of the paper work to end it legally can make something that is a little bit sad even more difficult emotionally. How long can you commit, and afford, to keep your nonprofit productive?
So what are good reasons to start a new nonprofit?
  • You have a clientele or beneficiary with a bona fide need
  • You have some idea about how to meet the need
  • You have an innovative programming idea or approach to meeting the need
  • You already did, or believe you can, secure the monetary and in-kind donations needed to support the organization for the foreseeable future

Visit the Nonprofit FAQ at www.idealist.org for information on starting, managing and developing a new nonprofit.

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