You have a genius idea.
It will add meaning and purpose to your life.
Most importantly, it will change the lives of others. Now what?
Launching an organization on a wing and a prayer is admirable. In rare cases, founders reach the holy grail. More often, they get overwhelmed by funding, time and social capital needed to transform their idea into a thriving organization. Most assume their love for the cause will carry them through, but transformation happens in stages and the development of your organization should do the same. Let’s explore 3 areas new founders fall victim to when launching a not-for-profit organization:
1. Contracted Services: As a contractor, I feel comfortable sharing this— Know your industry for yourself. Study the key players in your area, identify the trends of your industry, and get ready to learn a little bit about a lot of things! Of course, we all need a little help and contracting services from vendors with expertise in areas outside of you own may help. However, start-up expenses are a precious commodity. Spend your dollars wisely knowing financially savvy organizations look more attractive to (future) funders.
What’s the solution? Research and identify free or low-cost services before spending precious coins on contracted services you may need at a later time. Visit your local SCORE office or tap into your trusted board members for added support. After all, your board should consist of those with expertise in areas that you may not. If not, you must read #3.
2. Funding: The burning desire to serve may not equate launching an organization. After all, passion for your cause does not pay the bills. Foundation and corporate gifts are awesome yet there is a science linked to the art of securing those types of funds during the start-up phase. In recent years, global economic trends have impacted how grant funds are allocated, managed, and reported. The competition to make new friends, seek new talent, and develop creative ways to raise awareness–and funds–has never been higher. Unfortunately, great organizations crumble at the helm of passionate leadership with little to no resources to sustain the mission.
What is the solution? This is a loaded question. The area of development stretches beyond the scope of fundraising (although it is important). Best practices for start-up organizations include cultivating a strong board of directors, creating programs that generate strong outcomes, and working a strategic plan guided by long-term sustainability benchmarks.
3. Board of Directors: Maybe these people are your friends for now (because they are crazy enough to go along for the ride), but will they benefit the organization as the business needs change? If your organization represented the human body, imagine the torso representing your mission because that’s where the heart is. The limbs would represent the special people employed (or entrusted) to carry out the services and programs. Moreover, the board of directors would represent the head–the brain or “think tank”, eyes, and ears of the body. A committed and trained board of directors is critical to the overall health of your organization. It not only believes in the mission, but also brings a level of vision, expert judgment, resources, and ethic diligence to the table.
What’s the solution? Board of directors vary in size and responsibility. Rome was not built in a day and the same concept applies to your organization although recruiting and retaining a “working” board is essential to establishing a healthy start. Early training and ongoing professional development of the board is one of the best practices any founder (you) can exercise to ensure the head (board) is well prepared to guide and nourish the body (organization).
Would you like to discuss your “big idea” with someone who is passionate about serving start-ups? I’d love to listen and assist in formulating the next steps required to turn your passion into something greater. Click the LETS CONNECT button to schedule an appointment today.