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How do prospective workers/managers get the start-up money to found and run a non-profit organization?

I would like to work with a non-profit organization, but am also interested in starting my own. However, I'm not sure how realistic that is given that grant money or loans may be scarce. #nonprofits #non-profit #non-profits


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Sarah’s Answer

Non-profits are started a few different ways. Some are funded by a single person who made money in the private sector (Internet Archive), some are funded by a foundation, some are funded by a corporation (Salesforce Foundation), some are funded through crowd-sourcing, and some are founded by people with a passion for a subject or cause (SFJazz).


No matter how they are started, the person starting them needs to have a passion for the cause, be willing to talk about the topic all the time, be relentless in creating opportunity, and be ready to keep fine-tuning the strategy when an idea doesn't work out. The internet makes it much easier to get your idea out into the world.


Check to see if your non-profit idea already exists - Guidestar is a great source of the tax returns of registered non-profits. Check the internet. The non-profit space is the 3rd largest job sector in the United States. Over 90% of US non-profits are 1-2 people with under $50,000 in budget.


Good luck!


Thanks so much for the detailed response! I will definitely check that out :D Hannah K.

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L. Renee’s Answer

Working in the independent sector can be extremely rewarding! Starting your own nonprofit can be tough, but people do it everyday! Besides checking your community (or scanning the market) for similar services, you will also need to get your feet wet fundraising. Start by recruiting a board who is willing to invest in your cause my making a stretching gift to get the organization started. You will also need to make your own financial commitment to the work. You may want to look at some incubator programs (Community Partners in Los Angeles for example.) Individuals make up more than 80% of the philanthropy pie in the US (see Giving USA), so I am not sure you should start with grants and loans.


I wish you the best --this world needs more solutions and your nonprofit may add to that! Also, if its something you are really called to do for others --forget about all of the 'nonprofit' stuff and just do it now on a scal you can manage with your own resources and watch it grow from there!


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Kate’s Answer

Hi Hannah,


Good question! First, I would definitely echo what Sarah said about checking to see if the nonprofit already exists. There are so many organizations out there doing great work, and you may find that you can accomplish your goals without starting an entirely new organization.


I would also suggest that you gain experience working with a nonprofit organization prior to starting one; I think that seeing how a nonprofit functions will really help you with the basics needed, if you do decide that's the way you want to go. You would want to learn about fundraising, accounting, and programs basics. Especially at smaller nonprofits, everyone wears many hats, so you could definitely find an entry-level job that would introduce you to multiple areas! Alternatively, working at a larger organization may give you a sense of what you can achieve with more resources, which could be valuable information as well. You can find nonprofit jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities on idealist.org.


In terms of getting money to start a nonprofit, there are many potential sources for funding - foundations and individual donors are two of the big ones. To learn about potential foundation support, try googling "foundation" with your city or state name and the broad area in which you would like funding. (For example, "Indiana foundations education." Each foundation as a very specific process to apply for funding, and not every foundation may want to fund a new organization. You can also seek out individuals who may be willing to donate to cover some of your start up costs. You'll just want to explain how their donation will make a difference, and be clear on whether you can provide them with a tax receipt or not. (Only registered nonprofits can issue tax receipts.) If you'd like to learn more about how to find funding, you could also consider seeking an entry-level job in nonprofit fundraising, or even an internship. You're correct that grants are very competitive, but if you have an idea which will address a community need, and can explain that to a program officer, it's possible!


Good luck!


Kate


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