A Step by Step Guide for Starting a 501 (c) (3) Nonprofit Organization

Volunteering your money, energy, or time to help others does not only make the world a better place ā€“ it also makes you better. In fact, helping others makes you feel great. Starting a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization is the great initiative to help others and give back to your community. However, it is significant to understand the nonprofit nuisances before moving forward.

Starting a nonprofit isnā€™t a piece of cake; you will need to think about how your efforts can bring value to the public. It requires excellent strategy, planning, and efforts, but most important ā€œan organization.ā€. What will be your strategies to obtain funds? How will you attract more volunteers to your organization? How will you build a board of directors? You need to ask yourself these questions to determine whether you should begin with the nonprofit organization or not? It may take years of experience, determination, hard work, and willpower for growing and sustaining a nonprofit. But if you follow the right steps, you can get your nonprofit organization up and running.

Here are 5 basic steps for starting a nonprofit public benefit organization

Decide the Purpose of your Nonprofit

An essential quality of a successful nonprofit organization is clarity about its purposes. What are your nonprofitā€™s aspirations and why is the purpose is important?Ā  You need to write a basic mission statement to shed light on the overall purposes of the organization.Ā  There should be transparency between the nonprofit and its stakeholders- partners, volunteers, board of directors, donors, staff, and the general public. It will help them to better understand your goals and work toward a common purpose. Each and every step of your nonprofitā€™s programs and events should be united to move forward its mission.

In addition, a great nonprofit is one that is able to explain and communicate its services seamlessly within the organization. For example, social welfare organization should be able to explain how their work will help society. For example, animal organizations should be able to describe how their services meet real demands.

Decide what Type of Nonprofit You want to Establish

The second step to starting a nonprofit organization is to decide an issue that is important to you or something that can help to fulfill your nonprofitā€™s goals and objectives. There are different types of 501(c) (3) nonprofits such as religious, scientific, educational, and charitable.Ā  You need to choose one from these various nonprofit types and work for the fulfillment of your ambition. Moreover, you will have to decide whether you want to create an informal nonprofit organization with the help of some friends, e.g., to form a self-help group or if you want to incorporate your nonprofit for making it a separate legal organization.

Find Out the Name of the Organization

Although each state in the USA has different rules and regulations, there are 3 general rules to apply for the nonprofit organizationā€™s name:

  • The name you are planning to choose for your corporation should be unique. An organizationā€™s name may be adopted if the name is different from an existing name on the records of the stateā€™s corporation division. You can refer to the secretary of stateā€™s website to check the current database of existing nonprofitā€™s names.
  • Your nonprofit organizationā€™s name should end with a corporate designator, such as Limited (Ltd.), Incorporated (Inc.) or Corporation (Corp.)
  • Your nonprofit name should avoid any designation reserved for the state which includes Federal, United States, Bank, cooperative or reserve.

Hire an Attorney

When it comes to nonprofit organizations, legal advice and guidance are critical. No doubt, you can do a variety of the organizationā€™s work on your own, but there is work such as tax-exemption, tax-deductibility and incorporation which demands guidance and advice. An experienced attorney understands nonprofit matters and helps in planning for incorporation with your state, and tax-exemption with IRS. You need to choose the right attorney for your nonprofit; otherwise, you will have to pay federal taxes on your income.

In addition, taxes, donations, documentations and filing processes are very complicated and a nonprofit knowledgeable attorney can guide you throughout the process. Hiring 501 (c) (3) experienced attorney not only helps you file state and federal exemption forms but you will save your valuable time and money in the long run.

Appoint the Board of Directors

Appointing your nonprofitā€™s board is a challenging task. The board of directors plays an important legal and practical role for handling the nonprofitā€™s everyday affairs. Basically, the board of directors is the organizationā€™s trustees whose responsibilities include keeping the organization true to its public service mission. In addition, a good board of directors helps in setting policies and maintaining the organizationā€™s overall direction which include:

  • Contributin to the organizationā€™s mission and vision
  • Implementing a strategy to achieve the nonprofitā€™s overall goals and objectives
  • Defines priorities
  • Ensures that plans, events, and programs are implemented.

It is imperative to select skilled, experienced and enthusiastic board members to help your nonprofit organization grow.

Fundraising Campaign – 7 Ways to Turn Your Mission into A Movement

The mission is simply what you eye to achieve. A movement, on the other hand, makes a difference, a big difference. The success of a fundraising campaign is assured when you turn your mission into a mass movement. To turn the campaign into a mass movement, you have to make a winning plan to find, reach, engage and retain potential donors. To retain donors, turn them into your supporters.

Admittedly, no two fundraising campaigns are same. However, the ways these campaigns work are all same. Here, we are compiling a list of seven ways to start and run a fundraising campaign successfully. We are putting the implementation of these ways in simple words. If you are already running a campaign, then these tips might not be that helpful. However, these tips will help you in making your next campaign more successful.

Start With a Soft Launch

Before full official launch, rope in your key fundraisers. The soft launch endows you with the momentum and confidence required to materialize the full campaign. When the soft launch is successful, you can rope in a broader supporter base. And, donors also show the willingness to be a part of a campaign that shows the sign of a great success.

To start with a soft launch, make a list of the most dedicated supporters and fundraisers. Invite them and give them the responsibility to outline the campaign before the official launch. Ask them to reach and encourage their families and friends for contributions.

Keep Campaign Brand to the Front

It is important to be in the sight and mind of people to make the fundraising campaign successful. You are likely to fail to catch some fundraisers and donors if you are not promoting your campaign. You should utilize all the available channels of communication. Whoever you can reach should be convinced to join this movement.

There are numerous easy and fruitful ways to promote a fundraising campaign. However, there is no match for running a social media campaign especially when you have limited funds. Design a poster to promote the campaign and use this poster as the profile picture or background picture. Add a call-to-action. If you are having a website then the homepage must feature the campaign and call-to-action.

Educate Fundraisers

A fundraising campaign can be successful when fundraisers are successful. Share accurate and useful information with fundraisers.

Make a fundraising tip sheet and share it with fundraisers. This tip sheet serves the purpose of a resource of information for fundraisers. You can also make this sheet available on the website.

Create a Donation Page

Donors need a way to donate. People show the willingness to donate when you provide them with a way. Having a branded online donation page is always more rewarding than a generic donation page. The check out page should be branded to your nonprofit.

The donation page must be customized for every campaign. If you have a logo for the fundraising campaign, add that logo in the donation check out page.

Link with Impact

People donate only when they feel their support will make a difference. You have to make donors realize that their small donation and support will be used to feed, educate, protect, care or help someone. Explain the real world impact of the donation. For example, if a person knows that you will use their funds to vaccinate children, to buy books for children who cannot afford them, or supply food in a disaster effected-region, he or she will definitely donate.

You can detail the impact of the donation to donors by including the impact in written appeals. Or, you can detail the impact with the content you are posting on your social media profiles.

Make a Video

You can use a campaign video to share your story. Words are not sufficient. The old saying ā€˜A picture is worth a thousand wordsā€™ still holds water. However, there is no match for audio-visual content. It is the most engaging and convincing channel of communication. A fundraising campaign video helps fundraisers and donors in understating the cause. By sharing this video on your social media profiles, you can connect with more individuals.

There are different ways for making an impressive and inspiring video. You can include footage from your previous program. You can use animations. This video should make the audience realize that someone is in need of their support and help.


It is always good to celebrate milestones and accomplishments. This encourages fundraisers and supporters to keep supporting the cause. They are encouraged to put in more sincere efforts. The celebration is also a way for recognizing and appreciating sincere efforts of fundraisers and supporters. And, donā€™t forget to update donors on the results of the campaign.

Set weekly or monthly goals. And, when these goals are achieved, share it as good news on your social media profiles.