Define a Mission Statement and a Purpose
- At this point in your planning you know what your general goal is for your non-profit, but now you need to put it in writing in a way that is clear, concise, and answers the question about why you started the non-profit. Take care in constructing your mission statement, as it will serve as guidance to everyone who chooses to work with you in the future. The statement should be no more than a few sentences. After you have firmed up your mission statement, you can begin working on a draft of your purpose. Your purpose outlines the more specific tasks that your non-profit will be engaged in. While the mission statement responds to the “why” question, the purpose responds to the “how”.
Recruit a Board of Directors
- Your board serves an important purpose both legally and as a guide to keeping the non-profit’s activities in line with the mission. Most importantly, your board must share your passion for the mission. Ideally, your board includes people who are energetic and well-connected in their communities, and together represent a diverse palate of resources and opinions. All of your board members must understand the importance of fundraising to furthering the non-profit’s mission and be willing to pitch in to the fundraising effort. The number of directors on the board is up to you, as long as it meets the minimum mandated by your state. For your initial board, it is not necessary to follow a specific process while recruiting- you may only be able to get volunteers at this point. Make sure your board understands their duties, length of term, and expected time commitment.
Choose a Name and Register With the State
- Your state’s Secretary of State web page will provide the necessary information and forms to move forward in the process of choosing and registering a name. You can often search in a database of registered names to ensure your name isn’t already in use. Pay special attention to the rules on renewing the name- you don’t want someone else to pick it up because your paperwork is late!