Launching a Nonprofit Initiative? Here’s Everything You Must Know
Starting a new nonprofit initiative can be a gratifying experience, but it can also be quite challenging. If you’re a nonprofit owner or manager planning to launch a new initiative, you may run into struggles with fundraising, finding volunteers for your cause, or getting the right donor connections.
It’s not enough to just have a good idea. For it to succeed, you should know where to start and what steps to take. You also need to learn how to get your message out to people who care about the nonprofit initiative you’re leading.
We’ve created this guide to help you successfully launch a new nonprofit initiative or enhance your existing one. We’ll discuss everything you should know—from the basics to benefits, challenges, and more. So let’s get started!
What is a nonprofit initiative?
A nonprofit initiative is a project or program undertaken by a nonprofit organization to achieve a specific goal or purpose. It’s a great way to make an impact on the local community and give back to it.
Nonprofit initiatives can vary in size and scope, but they typically involve mobilizing resources and volunteers to carry out specific activities, such as fundraising for a cause or creating awareness about social issues.
Why launch a nonprofit initiative?
There can be many reasons. As a nonprofit, you could be passionate about a cause and want to help make a difference in that field. Or maybe you see a need within a community that isn’t being met. Whatever your reason, launching a nonprofit initiative is a great way to make a positive impact on and strengthen your local community.
Here are a few reasons nonprofits launch new community initiatives:
To make a difference in their communities (e.g., addressing a pressing social issue)
To provide much-needed assistance, such as disaster relief, to needy people
To raise awareness about social issues, such as animal cruelty and domestic violence
To inspire others to take action and make a difference by volunteering or donating to a cause
To build relationships with other community members and local organizations, such as businesses, government agencies, and foundations
The government acknowledges the efforts of nonprofit organizations and the steps they take for the betterment of their communities. However, it’s hard for government bodies to directly support all nonprofit initiatives. Therefore, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) has established a federal code—501 (c)(3)—that exempts all nonprofits from taxation.
Not having to pay taxes on donations and funds allows your nonprofit to use its resources more liberally. This makes it easier for you to continue adding great value to local communities.
What is section 501(c)(3)?
501(c)(3) is a certification from the IRS that allows a nonprofit organization to operate as a tax-exempt entity. This means the nonprofit doesn’t have to pay federal income tax on the money it makes from donations, grants, and other income sources.
Donations made to 501(c)(3) organizations are tax-deductible, which encourages people to donate money. To qualify for 501(c)(3), an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, or educational purposes.
What should you know about 501(c)(3) before launching a nonprofit initiative?
Let’s discuss a few key reasons you should be aware of 501(c)(3) when launching a new nonprofit initiative.
It allows you to receive tax-deductible donations. As a 501(c)(3) organization, your nonprofit can receive tax-deductible donations from individuals and businesses. This is a great way to raise funds for your cause.
It makes you eligible for grants. Many foundations and grant-making organizations award funding to only 501(c)(3) nonprofits. To apply for these grants, your organization must have 501(c)(3) status.
It helps build credibility. Having 501(c)(3) status gives your organization credibility and shows the public that you’re a legitimate nonprofit. This can help you attract donors, volunteers, and other supporters.
What are the benefits of launching a nonprofit initiative?
Starting a new initiative might be both thrilling and beneficial. You’ll not only make a substantial contribution to your community but also benefit from it in the following ways:
Increased visibility and recognition: By launching a nonprofit initiative, you’ll be doing something new for your community’s betterment, which is always impressive. This will help raise public awareness about your organization and its work, leading to more donations, volunteers, and community support.
Relationship-building with community members and local organizations: You’ll likely form new relationships with community members and other local nonprofits who share the same interests and values. This could lead to future partnerships and collaborations to help advance your mission or cause.
Better access to funding and resources: Launching a new initiative gives you access to public funding and resources, which can help you achieve your goals faster. You’ll also be able to secure funding from sources you wouldn’t have access to otherwise (e.g., private donors, government grants).
What are the challenges of launching a nonprofit initiative?
You’ll also run into challenges when planning a new nonprofit initiative. Be prepared for them, and have a plan in place to overcome them. The three most common challenges are:
Lack of funds: One of the biggest challenges you could face is lack of funding. It’s a major obstacle, but there are ways to overcome it. Try reaching out to foundations and corporations for grants, host fundraising events, or launch a crowdfund campaign (i.e., a process of raising funds from the public, typically through an online platform).
Lack of awareness: Another common challenge is that people are simply not aware of your nonprofit and the work you’re doing. Address this issue by increasing your marketing and outreach efforts. Try reaching out to the media, conduct public relations (PR) campaigns, and use social media to raise awareness about your new community initiative.
Administrative issues: Dealing with administrative matters such as paperwork, licensing, and accreditation is another challenge. These tasks are time-consuming, but you can hire a professional to help you or use an online service provider specializing in nonprofit administration.
A successful example of a nonprofit initiative
We spoke to Christina Da Costa, senior director of communications at SAGE, about an initiative she launched and succeeded in. Let’s read her nonprofit story.
Christina Da Costa
Senior director of communications at SAGE
“In August 2020, SAGE, a national advocacy and services organization supporting LGBTQ+ elders since 1978, teamed up with LifeCents to create and launch SAGECents, a free digital wellness platform. The SAGECents program helps ensure LGBTQ+ elders have access to resources that support their financial literacy and stability, especially in the wake of the unprecedented economic environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With SAGECents, LGBTQ+ elders receive accurate and current financial information and get access to resources and tools personalized to their age, income, financial goals, and more. More than half of SAGECents users have increased their savings by an average of $620 and 62% have reduced their debt by an average of $630. The program currently has over 1,100 users in 49 states.”
Tick these tasks off to launch a successful nonprofit initiative
Define your vision and purpose. Without a strong, clear vision, your nonprofit initiative is likely to fail. Define what you hope to achieve and communicate that to everyone involved.
Research and develop a clear plan. Research and plan how you’re going to make things happen. This includes understanding the needs of your target population, developing measurable goals, and creating a budget and timeline.
Find the right team. Building a strong team is crucial to the success of any nonprofit sustainability initiative. Find individuals with the skills and passion required to achieve the goals you’ve set.
Build support from key stakeholders. To be successful, you need the support of key stakeholders. This includes individuals and organizations that can provide you financial support, access to resources, or publicity. Also, reach out to local nonprofits to gain shared community support.
Launch your initiative and monitor progress. Once you have all the pieces in place, it’s time to launch your initiative. Also, be sure to monitor progress and make adjustments along the way.
Launching a new nonprofit sustainability initiative is not easy, a lot goes into it. From the initial stages of ideation, planning, and registering as a 501(c)(3) organization to building a website, marketing, and fundraising, there’s a lot for you to do.
Check out these Software Advice resources to learn more about setting up a nonprofit, raising funds, getting off the ground, and running smoothly: