It can be a very rewarding experience to start a non-profit organization. Putting passions to work for a tangible organization that can help people, the environment or animals not only helps you further your personal causes, but also helps others learn more and become motivated about your cause. Starting a non-profit can be hard work, but with the right steps and dedication, it is possible to find funding through grants. However, it is important to set up your non-profit correctly before applying for grants.
How to Start a Non Profit Organization With Grants
Write a mission statement. Before writing grants to fund your non-profit, you need to write a mission statement for your organization. A mission statement identifies what your organization's goals and activities are. For example, a non-profit about domestic violence would have goals that include increasing awareness and prevention of domestic violence. The group might hold silent auctions to raise money for the cause.
Find a board of directors. Find five to 10 professionals who would be willing to sit on the non-profit organization's board of directors. These are people who work in an applicable field or have experience in what your non-profit is promoting. This is a volunteer position; the Board of Directors decides allocation of grant funding, events and provides guidance for the organization. Usually members serve one-year terms than can be repeated, depending on the chosen nomination and election process.
Incorporate your organization. This usually costs less than $100, depending on what state the organization is in. Incorporating your organization before you apply for grants will prevent the board of directors and possibly yourself from becoming liable in the event of any lawsuits or money issues.
Find grants to apply for. Now that your non-profit organization is set up, finding grants to apply for is your next step. The U.S. government has created a webpage for non-profits that offers links to federal grants from several different offices and departments of the government. (See the Resources section.)
Write a clear and concise grant proposal. Grant proposals are very thorough and take a lot of time to prepare. In order to write a successful grant, you must: identify the need for the grant money, what you will do with the money (a detailed budget) and why you qualify for the grant. If you don't have experience writing grants, it may be helpful to hire a freelance grant writer or do research on the proper grant formats, as some grant applications may be rejected for not including all pertinent information.