How to Start a Non-Profit Organization

Make your dream of running a nonprofit organization a reality. Learn how now.
Make your dream of running a nonprofit organization a reality. Learn how now.
Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

It's Monday. Your alarm clock goes off. You don't want to get out of bed. It's the same story in the shower, in the car and in your office lobby. As the elevator doors ping open, your eyes land on the cubicle farm you've been working in for as long as you can remember. And as your annoying coworker flies past you in a flurry of Monday morning madness, it dawns on you -- you just can't take it anymore. You're ready to quit corporate America. It's time to chase your dream.

Starting your own nonprofit organization may be the perfect way to be your own boss without facing the trials and tribulations of a traditional for-profit company. The exact definition of "nonprofit" (also known as not-for-profit) is hazy at best because there are so many versions of nonprofit organizations. These groups can be educational, scientific, religious or charitable [source: IRS]. Roughly half of these groups are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charities [source: NCCS]. Basically, a nonprofit takes the money it makes and puts it directly back into its causes and missions instead of sharing profits among its employees or stockholders.

The key to calling your group a nonprofit organization is quite simple -- don't make a profit. You can still receive a salary in exchange for your work and hire employees, but the overall goal of a nonprofit organization is to keep administrative and fundraising costs to a minimum. So think about that dream. Would you like to start an animal shelter? Raise money for medical research? Beautify your city? You can go ahead and start working toward that goal right now. Say goodbye to Hawaiian-shirt Friday and hello to your future.

In this article, we'll discuss the requirements for starting and maintaining a nonprofit organization, fundraising ideas to help your project thrive and available grants for the nonprofit sector. Read on to learn about the basic requirements for starting your own nonprofit.