How to Start a Nonprofit PART 2

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Ezra 8:23

Author’s Note: If you haven’t read Part 1, go back and take a look. Part 2 builds on the first few building blocks mentioned in Part 1.

The necessary steps required to start a nonprofit are found in the eighth chapter of Ezra. Each nonprofit has their own version of the steps, but generally, all these steps are included. Here are a few more of those steps to consider.

  • Ezra had savings (8:24-30). You can serve people in your target population without money, but you cannot sustain service without money. Ezra used those savings dedicated to the project on what was necessary for the project to continue. And, he was careful to recommend stewarding those funds well.

Today, building the savings would look like working with foundations and donors who see your good work and want to be part, but can’t do the work themselves. They entrust you with the dollars, and it is up to you to apply the funding well to advance the mission. Be careful with what you spend your money on as a startup. There are many shiny objects and glittery things you “need” and on occasion, you find out later they weren’t a need. As Ezra says, “Guard them carefully until you weight them out in the chambers of the house of the LORD in Jerusalem…” (8:29).

  • Ezra rested (8:32). When you have accomplished a major hurdle, be certain to rest. Nonprofit work is hard and can be emotionally energizing and depleting. Managing your energy is healthy because compassion fatigue is a real condition.
  • Ezra celebrated (8:35). After resting, celebrating is in order! You may not have reached your mission, but you can pause to rejoice in the forward momentum. Celebrate in a way that is meaningful to the mission. For example, a nonprofit that focuses on child education may have a fun day at the zoo with educational presentations. A nonprofit that engages in medical relief may celebrate with a gourmet meal that highlights the correct nutrition for that particular demographic. A nonprofit who helps people escape homelessness may have a sleepover for the supporters in a fun location. Don’t party in the same way as other organizations because it’s expected. Feel free to get creative.
  • Ezra continued (8:36). When the people reached Jerusalem, they rested, celebrated, and then got right back at it. They reported to the initial investors (donors) and kept doing the work. “They also delivered the king’s orders to the royal satraps and to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, who then gave assistance to the people and to the house of God.” If you share the stories of what was accomplished, you may find those same people giving to you again to continue the mission.

Other books that speak into maintaining a vision is the book of Nehemiah. A great contemporary resource is Andy Stanley’s Visioneering, also based on the book of Nehemiah.

What other things do you find important when starting a new nonprofit (or project)? Tell me on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

© 2020, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org

How to Start a Nonprofit PART 1

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Ezra 8:23

As a nonprofit professor, many people ask about starting a new nonprofit. The passion they have for creating an organization that produces change has many steps. The eighth chapter of Ezra lays out a blueprint for the basic first few steps.

  • Ezra had a team of like-minded individuals (8:1-14). If you are looking at people standing next to you and find that they have the same passion, walk the journey together. On the other hand, if you are passionate about a particular cause and it feels like you are doing it all alone, it’s because you are. The best nonprofits I’ve seen start with people who were already walking the same road and decided to do it together. In modern nonprofits, these are the members of the founding board.
  • Ezra had the authorities approve the plan (7:13-26). Even though this happens first in the previous chapter, it’s important to make sure that you have thought about the ripples and impact on the community. Being in touch with local leaders as well as understanding the filing process is important. (And please contact an attorney for questions about filing, I’m not an expert on the law!) For Ezra to have approval on the plan means he had to first have a plan. As my friend @Christine Soule says frequently, “Be stubborn about the mission, be flexible about the plan.”
  • Ezra paused and reflected on the mission (8:15). Worship required Levites once they arrived in Jerusalem. Ezra paused for three days and during that time, he found this key in being ready to tackle the work to fulfill the mission. Keeping the mission the focus of what you and your team will do is critical in the beginning stages—and for the lifetime of the nonprofit. What I find interesting is that this pause to reflect happened while the Jews were already on the road. In other words, they were already on a journey and stopped to double-check they were equipped for the mission. Many nonprofits plan and never do the service, or serve without a plan. Make sure you “start the journey” by serving your target population of clients or members right away and have a path of success for them already laid out in part.
  • Ezra hired specialists (8:16-20). When the gap in expertise was evident, Ezra found people who could help. They were already into the journey—already on a mission—when the need became evident. Be careful about hiring too early, but make sure you are aware of the weaknesses of the team.

Many more steps make up the journey, and not all of them were in chapter 8 of Ezra. However, the keys to building the right team, collecting community support, and building a plan kickstarted the journey. Of course, there are moments to pray throughout all these steps.

When have you reflected on your mission, as a nonprofit leader or as an individual? What was the key takeaway from that experience? Tell me on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks.

© 2020, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.