What is it within our hearts, which encourages us to help others? Are we inspired by a challenge we experience in our youth? Is it a principle we hold close or a grief we are struggling to survive? Philanthropy brings us together and helps us right the wrongs. There are 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. Every year, new ones begin to pop up with the best of intentions. 12% of those don’t last five years.
It’s certainly not for lack of trying. Creating a nonprofit demands dedication, creativity, endless hours, a strong village of volunteers, board members, advisors, funding and perhaps most importantly – a solid mission statement. It is a legal statement, a collection of words; declaring to the IRS, donors and the community why a nonprofit exists. If well written and clearly defined, it will become an invaluable touchstone and guide as an organization grows and develops.
If you are considering starting a nonprofit and seeking 501c(3) status, begin by creating a very clear and concise Mission Statement. There is no designated length, although the shorter the better for clarity and for avoiding Mission Creep, one of the key downfalls for many nonprofits and a key reason why many fail. Mission Creep is when a nonprofit begins to expand and support programs that have nothing to do with their mission, usually in the hopes of receiving grants or to honor requests of generous donors. Nonprofits are businesses and it’s hard to say no when your organization is struggling to stay afloat. But by straying from your nonprofit’s mission statement to support another cause, you risk both your organization’s tax-exempt status, and the possible alienation of loyal donors.
Remain focused, committed and patient and let me know if I can be of help. It is a journey close to my heart.