As I interact with my networks a common question I see is how to start a nonprofit organization. The questioners want to know where to go for funding, where to find space for their organization, where to get volunteers, how to set-up their boards, etc. What is often missing is the why. Why do they want to start a nonprofit? What are they trying to accomplish?
The first step in forming a nonprofit organization is clarifying the mission. What is a mission? A mission is a purpose in life. Or it can be a goal you want to accomplish. Or it is a task you feel is assigned to you.
Why do you need to have a mission? Well, the first reason is your mission can provide the motivation to keep you going when things get difficult. Running a nonprofit organization is not always easy. You have to secure funding for your program, manage staff and volunteers, handle paperwork, communicate with your donors, etc. All of these tasks can take their toll on you. When that time comes its helpful to go back to your mission.
Secondly, a mission will provide direction for your organization. It will help you stay focused. As stated previously there will be many tasks that will pull at you. Also you will have to do a lot with a few resources. In order to manage your nonprofit well and provide your services you will have to stay focused. Your mission can serve as a guide as you set priorities.
Finally, your mission will be important in attracting funders. One of the top reasons people give to an organization is that they like and support its mission. As I learned from a fundraising conference, money chases ideas.
So if you want to start a nonprofit put first things first. Clarify your mission before doing anything else.
Photo by sippakorn