Starting a nonprofit organization can be rewarding and challenging. It is a process that can be difficult and full of pitfalls. However, if you are passionate about the cause that drives you to develop a nonprofit entity and you are confident that your organization will be critical in changing your world for the better, then with dedication and direction you will be able to navigate the numerous stages of developing your nonprofit concept.
1. Compose your organizational vision and mission statement. These statements will provide the overall direction and functional strategy for the entity. The vision statement will depict the world as it should be through the efforts of your nonprofit. It should be brief--one to three sentences--showing where your nonprofit will be if and when every effort you put fourth is successful. The mission statement succinctly states in a few short statements how you intend to direct those efforts. For example, a vision statement could simply read, “Our organization will reduce homelessness in the city of Houston, TX.” While the mission statement might read, “We will provide secure, clean homeless shelters with access to work and life skills training for all participants.”
2. Select a board of directors that believes in, and will commit to the vision and mission of the nonprofit. You will also want to try to select board members who have experience in the nonprofit world, or in the market niche you are trying to serve, as this will give you access to invaluable advice and direction.
3. Draft and file your organizations articles of incorporation with the office of the Secretary of State. At this stage you will want to contract with a corporate attorney to review your documents to ensure their appropriateness before filing them.
4. Compose your organizational bylaws. These are the operational rules that your entity’s board of directors will use to govern and direct the efforts of the organization.
5. Seek funding for your nonprofit. You will likely need to apply for grant funding to provide operational capital to start the venture. You can also try to seek a fiscal sponsorship with a more established nonprofit; where a larger nonprofit financially supports the startup of a smaller entity.
6. Establish an organizational bank account, system of accounting and a methodology of record keeping for meeting and minutes.
7. Apply for tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Most people refer to this as 501(c) 3 status. You can also apply to receive tax deductible status with the IRS at this stage, if you intend to receive charitable contributions from the public or for profit businesses. Next, you should file for any state, municipal, or county tax exemptions you might be eligible for. Check with the Department of Revenue at each of these levels to apply.
8. Apply for a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). This will be necessary if you intend to employ any full-time staff for your entity.
9. Produce and promote your programs and organizational brand and image. Depending on your particular nonprofit, you might promote online, on the radio or TV, periodicals or other nonprofit organizations.
About the Author
Malik Sharrieff is a marketing and business communications professional in New Orleans. He has more than 15 years of experience in marketing, public relations and customer relationship management; over eight years of experience as an academic writer; and as an online journalist for two years.
- public funding issues image by Kelly Young from Fotolia.com
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We live in a world where students have to ask to go to the bathroom but are also expected to be well-rounded in all subjects. Colleges just will not accept a C here or a B-minus there, which leads us to wonder:
What should I do if academics may not be my strongest suit?
Yes, test scores and academics do matter to some degree in the admissions process, but other factors are emerging that are starting to catch the eye of the admissions board.
Why do colleges care about grades in the first place? It’s less about the scores themselves than what they reflect. If a student receives A’s all four years of high school, that reflects a consistent concern with academic well-being, as well as a recognition of their importance at such a young age.
But other activities can reflect similar qualities about an applicant. Academics is not the only road to acceptance.
Does that mean that you should completely neglect them? Probably not. If you don’t meet baseline standards that a college has set, they likely won’t admit you, regardless of the rest of your college application. The odds will not be in your favor, except in rare circumstances; why risk it?
These days, with the same amount of students applying to a greater number of colleges, the pressure to actually be admitted is mounting. Having great grades is no longer sufficient and oftentimes not seen as the main factor for admission.
If you are looking to make a memorable impression on your admissions committee, here are
8 ways to wow them with your college application:
1) Do not try to wow them.
In conversations with peers, it’s astounding how many of them admit that they do what they do largely for college applications, revealing a certain unhappiness and dissatisfaction about the way they spend their time.
Wherever you invest your effort, be certain that it has some personal relevance to your life. Be sure that you care about what you do. You won’t find a mock trial participant at a dog kennel, the same way you wouldn’t find a human rights activist at an assisted living home.
At the end of your high school career, you do not want to look back and regret investing in something you now consider a waste of your time.
Do not put the college admissions board first to yourself.
2) Find consistency.
If you love playing the tuba, don’t take lessons twice a week for three months and then quit, only to take them up again a year later.
Consistency is key to constant development, a growth that colleges love in a student. It shows that someone has taken a timid hobby and turned it into a passionate lifestyle.
If you love what you do, document it. What better way to do that than with a blog? Start as early as possible, and pave your way with pictures and update posts. Include a link to your blog in your college applications. Don’t just tell your admissions council that you love what you do, show them.
Social media allows you to time-stamp your commitment to an activity.
3) Don’t be embarrassed of what you do.
Many high school students consider the college process a competition, and in some ways it is. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people need to keep secrets from each other. In some cases, concealing what you do can be a disadvantage.
Do not be shy. Share about your hobbies on various forms of social media. Start a Facebook page for your service project, and share the link with your peers. Tweet updates about how much money your raise, or how many people you attracted to your event.
Gain their support as a way to spread the word about what you’re doing, and any positive feedback that you receive will be well worth it, I promise.
4) Do something unconventional.
Everyone knows someone who likes to write poetry, or act in plays. But how often do you come across someone who loves slam poetry, aka performance poetry
What about someone who brings their love for slam poetry to other people, by posting content onto the internet?
That’s exactly what the people of Button Poetry did, not necessarily to fill up their college resume, but rather, to share their passion with other people.
It’s easy to love one thing or another, but out-standers will find a way to combine all of their favorite things. This will raise the eyebrows of those who read your college application, whose eyes have read the same things over and over.
They love a little innovation. They love spins on everyday ideas.
5) Learn from what you do.
Don’t do the same thing for four years straight. Grow from it, and improve upon your practice, because stagnation reveals a certain carelessness that shows, I don’t care enough to learn from my mistakes.
By learning, you can also build partnerships and find new opportunities to engage, and you can make your project, hobby, or (dare I say it) lifestyle bigger and better.
This comes with reaching out to people and openly looking for advice and criticism. Few people will go out of their way to tell you what they think; you have to ask for it.
— Check out 10 Other College Application Tips from Next Step U —
6) As a kid, try an adult thing.
Ageism is a real thing, people. But we can fight it.
You see instances of this, in the form of students writing code and inventing new things and interning at major newspapers. There’s a certain stigma about students only being able to do student things, when in reality, sometimes we can do adult things better than adults can!
This means not wanting to sit at the kids table with all of the other high school students, but rather, joining the grownups and engaging them in conversation and making a great first impression, something that shows an admissions council maturity and real potential.
It sends a message to them: I exist! and I’m ready for college – your college – in particular.
7) Focus yourself.
There was a time in everyone’s life that I refer to as the “experimentation period,” where they were simultaneously on the school’s soccer team, whilst participating in the grade-wide orchestra, heading to a newspaper meeting after school, and taking sign language classes on the weekend.
Juggling lots of extracurricular activities can just mean that someone is still searching for an activity that they like, but as high school progresses, it can also becoming overwhelming, as academics start to get more serious.
This often means spreading yourself out thin. “An inch deep and a mile wide,” they say. No one can make a meaningful difference in anything they do if they can’t focus themselves on a few choice activities.
A full college application doesn’t impress anyone if you have little to show for each activity. This is usually revealed in interviews and essays, when a student can prattle a list of their activities easily, but sputter and stutter when asked to explain any of them.
Says the College Express, “Colleges seek ‘angled’ students with a passion, not ‘well-rounded’ students.”
You can start out with 17 extracurriculars at the beginning of high school if you’d like, but learn to gradually narrow your options down to a choice few towards the end. Learn to focus your time and energy so that you do the most in a set amount of time.
8) Leave a legacy, set a precedent.
If you start something, do not to abandon it just because you get into college. That means that your primary motivator has just disappeared, and all of your efforts will remain at a standstill.
Even if you choose not to continue an activity during or after high school, be sure to leave a legacy. Find younger students who are willing to take on your responsibilities after you’re gone, so that a new generation can take the reigns and continue your tradition.
Admissions councils are always on the prowl for fakes, people who only do what they do for college. Never become one of those. Even if you have to sacrifice an activity, set a precedent to demonstrate that you truly care.
Photo by timmy [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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