how to start up your nonprofit

The Start-Up Nonprofit: 5 Pillars To Developing A Nonprofit

The Start-Up Nonprofit

5 Pillars to Developing A Nonprofit

It’s March Madness, so you know the season is just right for me. Whenever I head home from work and need to find a cozy spot to relax and have dinner, college basketball is almost always playing. Basketball is my absolute favorite sport. I love it so much that I’ve even considered how starting a nonprofit is similar to the development stages you experience as a basketball player.

I played basketball in middle school, high school, and for a semester in college. When pursuing a career in basketball, it’s essential to understand that your life revolves around the different seasons of the profession. Your “Rookie” year is when you learn all the basics and fundamentals of the game. The “Regular” season is a time of hustle and development. Once you enter the “Playoffs,” you gain access to becoming a champion of the game.

Developing Your Nonprofit

The stages of development in building a sustainable nonprofit aren’t really too different. During your “Rookie” year as a startup nonprofit, you might find yourself spending a lot of time and energy competing for recognition and awareness against the Michael Jordans and Larry Birds of the nonprofit industry. In your “Rookie” year, you barely get the ball because others may not see value in your abilities due to your newness to the game. And even when you do score, it can feel like it’s nowhere near enough considering what you have to go through to compete.

“Regular” season is around years 5-10. It is during this time you are honing your skills to become a true athlete in the nonprofit world. You don’t give up. You read more books, change your eating habits and sleep routine. During the “Regular” season, even your relationships with other people begin to change.

Through all this development, you become such a dedicated player, committed to your game, that you take it a step further and invest in a personal trainer. You get yourself a mentor.

5 Pillars of a Sustainable Nonprofit

A few weeks ago, I had a meeting to discuss a potential partnership between the organization I work for as Director of Development and Outreach and another nonprofit organization. In the reception area of their office, there was a picture of the organization’s founder, their very first office building, which was a church, and the first executive director of the organization. These pictures were displayed to tell the story behind the foundation upon which the organization was built.

The organization was over 80 years old, and the first executive director had been in that position almost as long as the founder had. Stories like these are crucial for nonprofit organizations because they represent success in fulfilling the organization’s mission.

Statistically, most nonprofits don’t last longer than 5 years. To be in business for over 80 years shows how committed this organization was to meeting the needs of its cause. That is exactly what I envision for my nonprofit, the FASTell Girl Model2Mentor Program, and what I hope for yours. My goal for the Start-Up Nonprofit course is to help other community service organizations gain trusted knowledge and expertise, ensuring they are on the path to long-term sustainability in meeting the needs of those they serve.

1.(PAIN) Sustainable nonprofits address a need that is tied to alleviating a specific pain point. For example, FASTell Girl was created in response to the rising cases of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among at-risk adolescent girls. The pain point driving my cause is personal – I too struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation as an adolescent. This personal experience, combined with my professional training, equips me with a unique understanding and the necessary skills to address this pain point effectively.

2.(PRINCIPLE) Every successful nonprofit that has stood the test of time operates on strong principles behind their cause. Adhering to principles that align with your cause’s goals and objectives allows the organization to remain focused, on task, and disciplined in its strategies.

3.(PASSION) Passion is the glue that holds a startup nonprofit together when the vision starts to blur. It’s an extra level of energy that propels the mission forward, driving the organization with a powerful force.

4.(PURPOSE) For anything to thrive, it must possess vitality, and this is no different for nonprofits. There must be a compelling purpose behind your cause, as this is what gives your nonprofit its story. People connect with causes through these narratives, drawn in by the purpose that breathes life into your mission.

5.(PROFIT) This might come as a surprise, right? Many people don’t associate nonprofits with profit, often thinking of them as entities constantly struggling or hustling for funding. However, for a nonprofit to operate successfully, it must generate profit. The key distinction between a nonprofit and a for-profit is that a nonprofit’s annual revenue must be reinvested back into the organization’s operations, rather than being distributed to shareholders through raises and bonuses.

Rookie of the Year

Establishing a nonprofit should be a lifelong commitment. I say “should” because there are those that form nonprofits as a means of making a living through grants, donors, and sponsorships. Indeed, some people do establish nonprofit organizations to take advantage of the benefits that come with this business structure.

However, making a commitment to serve others and to make the world a better place is worth far more than any income. When you commit to something for life, you are committing to change, growth, adaptability, and constant development.

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how to start up your nonprofit
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