By Anita Ginsburg

One of the noblest endeavors any individual can engage in is to start a nonprofit. This is a passion driven initiative to improve the lives of others. The most critical component is the need being addressed by the mission of an organization. In most cases, you will not be the only group addressing the targeted community. So, focusing on the specifics will facilitate your ability to make a tangible impact. Here are six challenges to conquer as you start that non-profit as well as how to be successful.

Business Plan

A business plan will assist with organizing the concept and mission statement as it provides clarity for the strategies needed. The plan must include a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threats) analysis. In addition, it will stipulate the financial costs and other resources necessary for start-up.

Tax-exempt Status

Since nonprofits are mission driven without any services or products, a tax-exempt status from the IRS is critical. The completion of form 1023 is a time intensive project, but one that will open up revenue streams. Consideration should be given to enlist a professional that specializes in nonprofits. Without this status, success will be impossible.

Strategic Goals

Once the business plan is in place, strategic goals are needed to address the direction of the organization. Most are five years, however, three is the accepted minimum. Upon completion, it will serve as the blueprint for specific actions to achieve over time. The process will be repeated throughout the organization’s life cycle.

Volunteer Management

While paid employees will play a role, volunteers are the most important human resource for nonprofits. Development and implementation of a program to manage them is essential. Employees with a master’s in public administration will have the background knowledge to tackle this project appropriately.

Building Partnerships

Finding stakeholders and sponsors that will support your program(s) is another cornerstone. This on-going initiative will also benefit from the direction of the public administration discipline. They have expertise to cultivate partnerships with like-minded businesses to sustain the mission.


Fundraising is the life blood of every organization. This will come in a variety of revenue streams including grants, cash, in-kind donations and others. Whether there will be grassroots or corporate campaigns, understanding strategies to maximize each effort requires diligence.

Brand building will be the natural progression with creating a logo and culture for your non-profit. The business plan and strategic goals inspire this aspect along with the initial passion used to launch the vision. Once the brand is static, maintaining it provides consistency across all platforms. Research is the first place to begin this process. Conquering these challenges will lead to a successful start-up and sustainability of your nonprofit.

Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, CO and often writes about business, finance, education and home. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2004. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing.