Whether you are thinking about starting a charity, you're in the process, or you've started one and want to go to the next level your purpose for doing so is to make a difference. The mission and vision are the very elements that set a charity apart from all other business models. Traditional businesses are measured by how much profit they make for their owners.
Charities are measured by creating change in our lives. Ten more students graduating from high school. Fifty, 100, 200 more students graduating and moving on to a brighter future. Hundreds and thousands of families benefiting from research on diseases and improvements in healthcare. Sixty children getting breakfast and lunch during the summer and a safe place after school every day. One life saved by preventing a gunshot. An overdose. A car crash. A suicide.
What is your mission?
At Thrive South, your mission is our mission. We provide mentoring and advising to help you build a framework to guarantee your ability to advance your mission.
For many, this will mean starting a 501(c)(3) charity. Cool. We can do that. But starting a nonprofit won't help you change lives. It's just a tool in the process.
There are a lot of factors that go into 1) changing lives and 2) knowing you are changing lives. It's pretty simple when you break it down and take it one step at a time.
It takes understanding the problem you are working on, how you want to change it, and how you plan to show the change. It takes communicating all of this to funders, setting up your organization to keep the records, and actually providing the programs.
You've changed the world! Seriously. You've changed the world!
Most charities go through the formation stage and never get started fulfilling their mission. They don't know how. Of the 25% with a budget of $100,000 or more, very few can show how they are making an impact.
With Thrive South's mentoring program, you'll do just the opposite. You'll learn to align your mission, vision, goals and programs and make sure you can track your progress and report your success. You'll know what to do if a program or project isn't making the change you want to see. You'll learn fiscal management and compliance. You'll know how and where to look for funding. You'll know how to do the thing. The process. Start to finish. In the charitable sector it's all or nothing. We're talking about people's lives and other people's money.
When you're dealing with other people's lives and other people's money, you really can't screw around.
We aren't here to help you start a company. We're here to help you create a better life in a better world. If it means starting a nonprofit company in the process, so be it. We'll make sure it's done right.
But above all else, we are going to focus on doing what needs to be done to get you from here to successfully changing lives. You'll be working with a social worker. It's what we do.
They leave out important steps like how to do research and develop program ideas.
They leave out major steps and don't put the ones they have in meaningful order .
They don't talk about all the moving pieces that overlap (like, while you're doing research and thinking about mission, start looking for credible board members).
They frequently talk about 'what' but don't talk about 'how'.
Have you spent time searching for answers and become frustrated with the process? Do you have a to-do list but still have questions about what to do next?
Wouldn't you like an actual, step-by-step set of instructions that go logically from one set of actions to the next? Suggestions like:
The pre-planning to do before you choose a name and incorporate
Questions to ask when researching programs and looking for board members.
Tips on building an initial advisory board and strong board of directors
Record-keeping to ensure you can either get reimbursed for expenses or claim a tax-deduction
When to incorporate and file for an EIN
When and how to register for IRS tax exemption
The important and essential steps that must come between state incorporation and IRS exemption
It's during the planning process that most founders can truly benefit from guidance. You can build the strongest, most successful and sustainable charity by working through the activities that most people ignore. And, you can even have someone to answer your questions along the way.
When you start a nonprofit, your tasks will include researching and planning, building your board of directors, organizing your structure, managing the finances, fundraising, grant-writing, creating policies, creating programs, and collaborating in the community. You'll frequently be doing this all at once! Our commitment is to ensure you have the knowledge and tools to meet each new stage head on and know what to prioritize. With Thrive South and our "How to Start a Life-Changing Charity" mentoring program, you will get everything you need to get started, along with the knowledge how to proceed, regardless of your background.
This way, you can focus on your mission, whether it's sheltering the disadvantaged, providing free healthcare, helping dementia patients, preventing violence, sharing the arts, or so many more amazing causes.
Bad Advice is Everywhere The reality is, the process of starting a charity generally is not something that you can do or explain by putting together a short checklist. There are many parts of formation that many people will tell you to "download a sample online". For example, an organization's most important document is its bylaws. Every client I have worked with in the last two years was told to "download something and change it later."
New founders get this advice because most people do not understand the legal importance of the bylaws. Occasionally, a lawyer even drafts bylaws and forgets that they don't have to be complicated! Bylaws exist simply to describe how your organization is managed. Since you legally will be required to have a Board of Directors providing oversight, the bylaws exist to explain how many board members there are, how often the board meets, and how officers are elected.
Although there are some elements that are required to be included, the bylaws should reflect the governance and organizational needs of YOUR organization. Not only is this true, but the leadership of many organizations don't know how to use their bylaws to support and govern their organization. It's not their fault. They've never been taught.
But it is their responsibility, and yours, to learn from reputable, qualified sources.
You wouldn't want your mechanic guessing how to fix your car. Or your surgeon taking advice instead of getting real training on how to do your surgery. I have personally started or been instrumental in the start-up of five nonprofits as a founding employee, consultant or volunteer. I am now consulting start-up charities full-time. My graduate degree is in nonprofit planning and administration. I am a licensed consultant in my state and I am a trainer with my state center for nonprofits.
A charity is not "started" until you have a formed, organized and operating Board of Directors. It is not "started" until it is funded and providing programs. However, you can get your program fully formed, organized, funded, and "started" by serving your community sooner than you think, AND you can do it and still get a good night's sleep. Thrive South can do this with you.
Or, you can keep searching the Internet with your questions, looking for the next step, wondering when you'll really get started and wondering if you'll make a difference when you do.
Take a moment and visualize our six phases of start-up. There are several steps and activities that bring you closer to success in each phase. Many parts of the phases overlap. Some people want to jump ahead and start a quick and easy business. That's generally not possible with charities because the intent is to serve the public and accountability, compliance, and sustainability is expected. If you want to quickly start a business without all these steps, they you should probably consider forming a for-profit corporation, partnership, or LLC.
Our training program is designed for the community-minded individual who is moved to make a difference. We will teach you the important aspects of starting a life-changing charity and give you a strong foundation to build on. Our goal is to provide coaching and training along the path from planning to sustainability. We do our very best to be affordable and accessible for everyone. We offer deeply reduced pricing specifically for start-ups, delayed payments, and payment plans.
When you choose mentoring and advising, we have a program called How to Start a Life-Changing Nonprofit.
You will build your legally formed, fully structured and operational tax-exempt charity with the guidance of a mentor and advisor who will meet regularly with you.
Education portal with "assignments"
Access to discussion boards
Grant review and feedback
Limited group webinars
Flexible scheduling and time-frame
"Almost unlimited" access to coach/mentor via phone/email/discussion group
Some founders will go through the formation process in two or three months, depending on how long they stay in the planning phase and how long they spend building their initial board (more on that later). The actual legal formation paperwork takes a few days or weeks. But never forget, this is the process of building the foundation of your organization. Just like building your home, you can't go back and "start over" once the house is built.
After planning and formation, you'll go through the next four phases at your own pace. We like to allow 12 to 18 months for a charity to build their programs and begin establishing funding. In that time, you will master:
Building an Effective Board of Directors
Organization and Nonprofit Financial management,
Development of Fundraising Plan
Policy and procedure, compliance
When you choose Thrive South's comprehensive mentoring service when starting a nonprofit, I guarantee you'll organize faster, with less stress, more confidence, and a (much) greater chance at success. We offer a free, no-obligation phone or video consultation. Schedule now and decide if it's the time to take your mission and your organization to the next level.
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