How to Set Up a Non-Profit Organization – 3 Keys to Success

Are you setting up a non-profit organization? Don’t ignore the specific, technical steps you must take to set up a new non profit organization. Although they will vary depending on your location, here are some guidelines for American non profit organizations.

501-c-3 or Fiscal Sponsorship?

Most independent non profits are incorporated under the IRS 501-c-3 code which allows organizations serving a public social need to operate on a tax-exempt basis and to receive tax deductible donations and grants to fund their operations. The 501-c-3 application, although costing under $1,000 to process, can be a bit daunting.

To get up and running quickly, many non profits begin as fiscally sponsored projects operating under the umbrella of a 501-c-3 fiscal sponsor with the stated purpose of serving the public through organizations like yours. The fiscal sponsor will let you collect tax exempt donations by taking a processing fee, often a percentage of the funding dollars raised. They will also offer a shorter application process and administrative support for your organization as it gets up and running. With this start up support, you will be in a better position to apply for your own 501-c-3 status at a later date.

Board of Directors

The appointed board of directors have the authority and responsibility to run the non profit, usually by selecting and advising the non profit’s executive director. As they can be held legally liable for the activities of the non profit, it is in their best interest to run the organization safely and legally to avoid risk. Some states require only a minimum of one director, who can be the executive director of the organization, while others require at least three. In any event, building a devoted and responsible board over time can insure that the fundraising and management capacity of your non profit continues to develop.

Corporate Bylaws

Most non profits are required to create official bylaws. This document details the rules that govern your organization at the board level, such as how meetings are run and how decisions are made. There is no need to create this kind of document from scratch, as templates are readily available and generally refer to the famous Robert’s Rules of Order as the method for running meetings.

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Three Necessary Tools for Non Profit Web Templates

When your non profit organization decides to get a non profit website, one of the first and the most important things to do is to find a good provider and designer for you website. Such websites can’t look like other ordinary or corporate websites. As non profit organizations are not ordinary organizations, so the websites require the special non profit look.

It is not difficult to get a very good professional website for non profit organizations because there are many good non profit website providers. The main problem is to choose the good one. You should start with looking at non profit web templates. The companies that specialize with creating such websites and templates for non profits, usually have a big selection (more than one thousand templates usually) of templates for your website. You can look at the templates and see if they are attractive and professionally looking. If yes, then you will know that the website designing company for nonprofits is the good one.

Some of those companies will even give you such a template for free and they will build your whole website for you for free, if you also sign up for website web hosting with them, which is usually a good idea because they specialize with the web hosting for non profit organizations and know your web hosting needs very well.

But be careful not to choose the template only because of its beautiful looks. The non profit template for your website must include some tools that are very important and often really necessary in case of non profit websites.

Your Template Must Be Donor Friendly

Your template must be donor friendly. This is very important if your non profit organization like most non profit organizations depends on donations. Having the “donation button” placed on every page in a very well visible place is crucial for collecting donations online through your website. Because of that never choose the template that does not incorporate collecting donations very well. This is very important that your website is linked with a payment terminal that accepts credit cards and PayPal payments too.

Testimonials and Success Stories

The page that contains testimonials or/and success stories should be also incorporated into your website. It is very important that visitors to your website can see and read such testimonials and stories. Nowadays when there is so many scams on the internet people don usually trust in anything easily. You need to give them something that convince them that your organization is genuine and that they will support the just cause with their donations and actions.

Social Media

Nowadays it is also very important that your website is connected with some other social media like Twitter and Facebook. Through Twitter and especially Facebook (probably through Google+ too, in the near future), you can reach millions of people. For the same reason you should also have a blog on your website. By posting on your blog you will be adding new content to your site and it will be also easy to update your site and keep in touch with people who visit your site regularly and often.

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