7 Steps to Starting a Nonprofit [VIDEO]

Starting a nonprofit isn’t an easy task to undergo. With so many steps to take in the early stages, it’s difficult to know where to start.

Let us help.

We put together seven of the first steps you should take when starting a nonprofit. Watch the short video below so you can hit the ground running on your quest to starting a nonprofit. Let us know how your journey is going in the comments below.


The first step to starting a nonprofit is articulating the problems your organization will address. You’ll make the biggest difference when you’re specific about your scope and the demographic your nonprofit will serve. Most importantly: before you start your own nonprofit, make sure there’s a need for you, otherwise your organization won’t be sustainable.

Secondly, choose a name that communicates your nonprofit’s identity and mission. Make sure a matching domain name is free for your website, and check with your state to make sure your chosen name is available.

The third step is assembling your board of directors, which ought to consist of at least 3 to 6 people. The leadership of your founding board members will be essential to the rest of the startup phase, so choose wisely.

After recruiting your committed board of directors, your fourth step is completing the steps for incorporation in your state. Settle on your name, file your Articles of Incorporation and create bylaws.

Fifth, upon incorporation you can file for nonprofit status: expect fees and plenty of paperwork associated with your applications for federal and state tax exemptions.

Sixth, develop a sustainable fundraising plan and apply for foundation grants after being award 501(c)(3) status.

Lastly, create a marketing plan to recruit donors and volunteers for your organization. Work on your online presence, because your nonprofit web design and outreach on social media is especially important in starting a nonprofit.

After completing these steps, your nonprofit is ready to bring donations in and start making a difference in your community.

Have other tips for starting a nonprofit or a question for our In Kind series? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Starting a nonprofit is indeed far from an easy task. Afterwards, reaching out to people regarding your mission to find donors, volunteers, and community engagement can be even harder yet. As this post demonstrates, adding a simple, straight-forward video to blog posts, your website, and your social media exposure does wonders to SEO.
    I represent letsdabble.com and we teach nonprofits video skills, for free. We do this through free online video tutorials that teach the skills needed for basic video production. So that you can learn video, share your story, and make a difference.

    Find out more at http://www.letsdabble.com/tutorials


  • Marc Koenig

    Thanks for the useful resource, Anthony. Having a variety of dynamic content is wonderful for SEO–but also, and more importantly, simply for engaging with your constituents in an interesting, accesible way. Definitely.

    Of course, for those JUST starting a nonprofit, you’ll have to ignore the desire to be decked out with videos, social media, etc. and just focus on the ESSENTIALS. Get your first 3 donors. Get a great website before worrying about filling it with pretty content. Start bringing in revenue before investing in anything you don’t absolutely need to get your operation off the ground. Videos are great, but won’t be worth as much if you don’t have a functioning marketing/fundraising plan to back them up.

    Thanks again for commenting, Anthony!

  • Ryan Gandy

    What type of personnel is preferable for your board when start

  • Ryan Gandy

    What type of personnel is preferable when starting a non-profit

  • Great goods from you, man. I have take into account your stuff previous to and you’re
    just extremely excellent. I actually like what you have received here, really like what you’re stating
    and the way through which you are saying it. You make it enjoyable
    and you still care for to stay it wise. I can not wait to learn far more from you.
    This is actually a great web site.

  • Sumer Gonzales

    Hi! Thanks for the great info.
    I have a question about filing for nonprofit status. I work in an Emergency Room and we constantly give to amazing causes. We want to have an avenue where people can give/donate all year long. Can you help guide me. If this is too general, please let me know. Thanks!

  • J Hua

    I also enjoyed The NonProfit Collective’s article on the same subject of starting a non-profit. http://stephtanner.com/start-nonprofit-organization/

  • Sarah Anderson

    Thank you-

  • pasang

    Is there is a office that I can go to in Atlanta to receive consultation? I am planning to start a health education non-profit organization.


  • Terry Ibele

    Great tips, I just finished up a massive guide on how to start a nonprofit and get paying members. https://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/2017/05/24/how-to-start-a-nonprofit

  • Elie Niwe

    Thank you Matt ,

  • Nice video. I think what today is really important to create a actionable plan that works. I was also reading how to attract more volunteer to your nonprofit on Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2017/07/11/how-to-attract-more-young-people-to-volunteer-at-your-nonprofit/ and it helped me. I think CIOs like http://www.introviz.com are the one whom we should talk to once before setting up everything because they don’t only work for your IT setup but also suggest in creating good strategic plan.