I hear questions from people who want to start charities quite often. My first response is similar to what it would be if someone said they wanted to start a new business selling a gizmo that everyone “must have”. Just like in business, non profits need to have a reason for being that is unique (USP), serving a particular audience that needs, wants, their services. I’ve been blessed by knowing some wonderful individuals who are pouring their hearts into people and causes that otherwise would have no help at all.

But wait, I think Jeff Brooks said it better:

The down-side of there being so many nonprofits is easy to understand. It means:

* Inefficiency.
* Duplication of effort.
* Lower level of professionalism.
* Marketplace confusion.

On the other hand some of these new nonprofits are tiny, serving extremely narrow or localized niche issues that no one else is dealing with.

From: Too many nonprofits? Let 85,000 flowers bloom!

So before you go starting a charity, think long and hard about it as you need to be ready for the long haul.  Here are some other folks who have some thoughts on this:

So You Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Start Your Own Nonprofit by Rosetta Thurman

7 Essential Tips for Starting a Nonprofit Start Your New Nonprofit by Thinking Ahead By Joanne Fritz, About.com

Starting a Nonprofit Organization from Free Management Library

Starting a Charity? Getting a Better Chance for Success from All Things Fundraising

You’ve made it past the “idea” stage and are moving forward through start-up, that’s when the real work begins.  It’s an exciting time in the life of a non-profit, with its own unique challenges.  Yes, this stage can last for several years and sometimes you go back through it during times of transition too.  Here are some articles with advice and tips for thriving during these times:

Start-ups: Showing a Track Record from Help4NonProfits

Nonprofit Startups and the Power of Bartering by Lorna Doone Brewer of The Nonprofit Perspective

and for a bit of inspiration… Raggedy Ann is Start of Major Nonprofit Organization from Roger Carr

Posted on 15 August 2008

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