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Nonprofit basics: Strategy, Budgets & Support!

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Congratulations on starting a nonprofit! You’ve started the journey, but what’s the next step? Many nonprofit founders feel overwhelmed with where to go next after the paperwork is filed. We are here to help outline helpful actions to take after starting your nonprofit including building a strategy, budgets, and community support for your organization.

But before looking at the next step, let’s first, recap and celebrate the steps you have taken and what you have accomplished in starting a nonprofit.

🎉Celebrate the Wins Before Taking the Next Step! 👟

There are more actions to take, however, reviewing your accomplishments in this process will help as you continue to move forward with your nonprofit’s next step.

✔️Market Research

After finding your passion, outlining what problems your nonprofit will solve, who it will serve, and if there are similar nonprofits fulfilling the same needs/serving the same people help with market research and can be used in future planning.

✔️Creating a Board of Directors

When creating your board, it is important that all board members are passionate about the mission of the organization and dedicated to fulfilling their obligations.

✔️Choose a Nonprofit Name

Clearly communicate the organization's purpose and create a positive impression with potential donors, stakeholders, and partners when choosing your nonprofit name.

✔️Incorporating, Filings, and More!

Starting a nonprofit requires A LOT of paperwork! The following are examples of required filings:

  • Incorporation in your state
  • Completing IRS form 1023
  • Researching and complying with any state-level requirements
  • Receiving an IRS employer identification number
  • Creating your bylaws and organization policies.
Look what you’ve accomplish

Paperwork ✅ What’s Next?

Now that the paperwork is filed and the foundation for your nonprofit has been laid, it’s time to take the next steps. This process is about building your nonprofit. You can begin working on these next steps while you are waiting on your paperwork and filings to be finalized.

Develop a Strategic Plan

Equally important as the first steps, is the next planning stages. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, “a strategic planning process identifies strategies that will best enable a nonprofit to advance its mission”. Keeping your market research and mission statement at the forefront of your mind will assist in developing a strategic plan for your organization. Ideally, the staff and board commit to measurable goals, prioritize implementation, and devise a plan to review the strategy periodically.
Additionally, your organization can include an analysis of your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
SWOT Analysis for Nonprofits

Keeping your mission, values, measurable goals, SWOT analysis, and resources at the forefront of your strategic plan, consider including additional resources such as financial reports, operating budgets, and communication plans.

Tactical Plan and Budget

After your nonprofit’s strategy is in place, it is time for more planning and budgeting. Effective budgeting involves your organization's strategy and objectives. Eide Bailly outlines factors and questions for your nonprofit to consider while creating an effective budget.

  • What are your desired financial outcomes?
  • Outline goals to serve your mission
  • Develop actions to reach your desired goals.
  • How are you allocating your resources?

Secure Funding

You have a purpose, and a plan, now you need funding! There are different avenues that nonprofits can pursue funding. The National Council of Nonprofits lists the following sources of income to help nonprofits fulfill their missions:

  • Fees for goods and/or services
  • Individual donations and major gifts
  • Bequests
  • Corporate contributions
  • Foundation grants
  • Government grants and contracts
  • Interest from investments
  • Loans/program-related investments (PRIs)
  • Tax revenue
  • Membership dues and fees
  • Community based fundraisers

Generally speaking, pursuing a variety of funding sources is a good practice for most nonprofits.

Donor Management and Fundraising

To help secure funding nonprofits will often develop a fundraising and marketing plan. Often, small nonprofits seek all-in-one platforms that are beneficial for nonprofits to help with fundraising and donor management. DonorDock is an example of a comprehensive donor management system that helps you easily:

  • Manage contacts and track giving.
  • Simplify data entry, reporting, and tracking.
  • Create donation pages and campaigns.

Additional Considerations

In addition to a donor management platform, there are other software options to consider when budgeting and creating your plan for your organization. Some of these include:

  • Accounting practices and software.
  • Organizational policies.
  • Insurance policies.

Raise Support with Support

Developing a strategy, policies, fundraising plans, and a budget can seem overwhelming. Remember that you do not need to do this alone! It is important to build a community. Developing a support system within your local community, and beyond, will help you succeed in doing more good!

There are varying roles and levels of support needed for your organization. How can you recruit and involve supporters, followers, volunteers, partners, and leaders? Consider the following opportunities to grow and build your organization’s community.

🔗 Connect with other nonprofits and leaders by seeking out social groups. There are several Facebook groups such as Nonprofit for Newbies, Nonprofit Resources, and Your Thriving Nonprofit. These social networks provide a nationwide support system for new nonprofits.

🤝 Find complimentary nonprofits to collaborate with in your community. While building your nonprofit, it is important to learn from leaders in your community. Likewise, find local organizations to collaborate with and build a larger support system. This helps serve a greater need and more people while connecting you with other nonprofits and supporters. We are better together!

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” -Booker T. Washington

Congratulations on taking the next steps as you build your nonprofit. Celebrate each win and ask for support as you develop your strategy, policies, budget, fundraising, marketing, and community.

DonorDock believes in helping nonprofits like you save time and raise more funds, so you can build an organization you and your community are proud of. Feel free to check out our free resources as you grow and succeed.

Bridgette Bitzegaio
Training Manager
Written by
Bridgette Bitzegaio
Training Manager

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