Do you have what it takes to start a not-for-profit or community service organization?
SCORE, which helps people start and reshape small businesses, also helps people who want to start not-for-profit or community service organizations. These organizations are generally focused on serving a need related to health, social needs, the arts, or other areas where the founder’s drive is service rather than profit.
If you are thinking about starting such an organization, here are some questions you are encouraged to answer.
Who are you creating this organization to serve?
You will need to have a crystal-clear view of who your target audience is. Be as precise as possible. Does the community really need your program and have you quantified the need?
What will the organization do?
It is important to define clearly what will be the mission of the organization and what it will do. This should be defined as narrowly as possible because start-ups can’t take on the whole world. You should also know what other organizations might be in this space and how you might overlap, plus whether a better alternative might be to ring other organizations up and see about collaboration. Or, could another organization administer the program you want to start? Also, has a similar organization been started in a different region and can you benchmark it.
Where will your organization be based?
This isn’t just about where your operation will have its office, but what will be the geographic region you will serve.
When will you want to get started?
You will need to develop a practical timeline. Will this be a part-time position for you, or do you plan on getting at it full-time? Who else will be involved at first and down the road?
Why are you doing this?
Organizations are born out of a passion to solve a problem. Have you thought through why this is your special cause? Why is there this need and is it something that will be sustainable?
How are you going to make this happen?
The “how” is where you will search deeply for thinking about the resources and commitments to the venture. Finances, people, partnerships, real estate. Legal structure, and marketing are areas you will need to consider.
Put some thought into these questions to get a sense of whether you are a not-for-profit or community-based organization entrepreneur. SCORE mentors, some of whom specialize in helping people start such organizations, stand ready to help you answer these questions and mentor you.