The main goal of a nonprofit organization is to direct funds from donors towards different causes. So, the idea of starting a charity without money may seem strange to some people. But you should know that you don’t need a huge war chest to start a nonprofit and help people. Many large organizations started as small charities helping people close to them, and you could do the same. You just have to know the basic steps to starting a nonprofit, have a realistic scope, and start building from scratch. Let’s take a look at how you can start a nonprofit organization with little or no money.
Have a Business Plan and a Clear Vision
You should know that you will need to have at least a clear vision for your nonprofit and a plan at the beginning. This will not only help focus your efforts, but it will attract initial donors who will help you take your charity off the ground as well. A clear business plan will help you get that tax-exempt status too.
Your plan needs to have at least a vision statement and a mission statement. Your vision statement will lay out why you’re deciding to start your organization and your mission statement will explain exactly how you intend to tackle the issue you want to fix.
You cannot raise funds as a tax-exempt organization if you don’t have nonprofit status and a business presence. And you won’t be able to get those two things until you go through registration, which will cost you some money. You will also have to hire an attorney to make sure that you don’t violate any laws now and in the near future.
Set aside at least $1000 to cover state and federal registration costs. Also, know that the process of getting tax-exempt status can take months, but you can still use stakeholders’ funds to pay for your registration and lawyer fees.
You’ll need to use as many free tools as you can while setting up your organization so you can save some money. You can use free project management tools, free donor management systems, and free fundraising tools as well.
If you’re looking for a free fundraising platform for nonprofits, then we suggest you check out the linked review from Givebutter. They will help you find the best free fundraising platform for nonprofits and they review six popular tools that you can use. They rundown some of the features of each tool and which ones are the best for different types of organizations.
If you’re going to get office space, be very careful to not go overboard. Nonprofits don’t need oversized offices and you could easily get by sharing space with another organization, nonprofit or otherwise.
You will also have to do everything in your power to keep your equipment costs to a minimum. The good news is that many businesses will be more than happy to help charities, especially if your cause resonates with them.
So, don’t hesitate to ask businesses close to you if they would be open to giving you supplies or equipment that they don’t need. Sites like Craigslist are also a great place to find used equipment, and you could also put an ad there asking if people would be willing to give equipment to your charity.
Now you have to start building a list of donors. You should first start with your friends and family and ask them to spread the word about your charity. Social media is probably the best tool to start gathering donors, so make sure that you have a solid Facebook and Instagram profile and start getting active in the community. You could also use cheap or low-cost advertising methods such as Facebook ads and even traditional methods like pamphlets and promotional items to start building awareness about your charity.
Holding a regular event in your community is one of the best ways to up your charity’s profile. So, see if you could hold some sort of event that won’t cost much but will allow you to speak about your charity. It could be something as simple as a food fair or a community picnic with entertainment for the family.
Try to raise awareness for your event through press releases and try to get local figures to participate as well. Have kiosks where people can get information about your charity and take the time to speak directly with the audience during the event. Also, make sure that they leave with material about your charity so they can remember it and research it more in detail once they get home.
As you can see, you don’t need millions to start a successful nonprofit organization. You can always start small and work your way up, but you have to be properly organized and have the proper tools in place if you want to succeed.