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I Want to Start a Nonprofit Organization. Should I?

June 2023

Organizations such as foundations and local governments that fund nonprofits say they want to see an impact created by the funds they award. This expectation makes sense. They are investing in your organization and want to know that your services make a difference in the community and create results that represent “mission accomplishment”. However, these funders also advocate for collaboration among nonprofits to reduce duplication of services and small awards to many organizations versus significant awards to a few impactful organizations. Should you add another nonprofit to the growing number of over 1.5 million organizations nationwide?  


Most founders start a nonprofit because they have a strong passion for a cause and want to make a difference. Before doing this, prospective founders should research existing organizations that offer similar services to determine if there is an alignment of the services.  The existing organization may want to add the new service to their offering and hire the founder to manage the program. Running a nonprofit is a big undertaking.  Although the motivation is different (affecting a cause versus making a personal profit), it is still a business that requires an operational infrastructure, a governance infrastructure, and compliance with several federal, state, and local laws.  Like many nonprofit peers and even for-profit businesses, new organizations will compete for funding, talent, board members, brand awareness, and many other things. Are you ready?


On the other hand, what if other organizations serve similar communities and offer similar services but are outside a reasonable distance from your community? With your nonprofit, thousands of citizens may receive the needed support for services like grief counseling, job preparedness, mental wellness, affordable childcare, or addiction recovery. Can you get ready?


Although deciding to start a nonprofit organization is more involved than these preliminary considerations, the short answer to the preceding question of whether you should, is “maybe.” The longer answer is a recommendation that you do three things to help you start thinking about whether it makes sense.  One, research existing organizations to identify similar services that may align with your vision.  Two, obtain general incorporation information from the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta at  Three, attend the 501c Impact! Certificate in Nonprofit Board Governance course to understand the critical governance requirements of the board of directors and management requirements of the Founder/CEO. Visit us at to learn more and register for an upcoming course.


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