Many people dream of starting a nonprofit organization to serve their goals, and this is completely possible to do from your own home. These organizations serve the community through education, direct service or charity, and in return do not have to pay many of the taxes that for profit businesses pay. However, there is some paperwork and groundwork that are necessary in order to have a successful home-based nonprofit organization.
Think carefully about what you want to do. Ask yourself what purpose you want your organization to have, who you want to help and how you want to help them. Use the answers of these plans to come up with a general sketch of the mission and scope of your organization.
Consult with others on your mission and scope. Ask your friends, other nonprofit leaders, and those who you would serve what they think of your program. Figure out if there are other groups who are already addressing the needs you aim to fulfill and try to see how your organization would fit into the existing structure. Use the feedback to refine your mission and scope statement into formal documents.
Recruit a board of advisers or directors. These members of the community will advise you on your projects and help you gain funding and resources. They will help make sure your program is effective and can be a great way to have access to legal and operational expertise.
Get your legal documents in order by filing articles of incorporation, developing bylaws, and applying for tax exempt status. There are links below which will guide you through the process, but it is often best to work with a lawyer and an accountant for this step. They often will donate their services if they believe in the mission and their help will save you from any legal ramifications.
Start your organization by setting up a home office and designing a website and informational material. Distribute the information widely and contact similar organizations to let them know that you exist and what you are trying to do. The more that you are able to network, the more impact you are able to have.
Secure funding by soliciting donations from private donors and applying for grants from foundations and other organizations. Many community and large foundations will help organizations that are already established, but are often reluctant to be initial donors. Often your board can help you find initial funding.
Recruit a staff, if needed. Even if you are working from home, you may want a staff. A staff can be volunteer or paid and can either work in your home or from another location. Many high schools and colleges offer credit for internships or volunteer work, so contacting their guidance and career offices can be a great way to get the help you need.
Keep track of your successes and compile progress reports. These should be available on your website and show what you aimed to do, how many people you helped, and whether or not you were successful. These tools will give donors the confidence they need to keep funding your project, as well as an incentive for volunteers to continue to work with you.
Starting an organization takes time, so be patient.