How to Start a Nonprofit With Little to No Resources

Deciding to start a nonprofit organization is exciting but just like almost everything else in the world, it costs money. You will also have to go through a good amount of paperwork and procedures in order to legitimize your nonprofit. However if you are truly passionate and determined to start a nonprofit organization, all the time, money, and paperwork will be worth it in the end. 

Check out these five major steps that will help you start your nonprofit without breaking the bank:

 1. Core Values

Your nonprofit organization will heavily rely on a set of core values. It's what will motivate people to support you and promote the success of the organization. Take some time to think thoroughly about the message and purpose behind your nonprofit in order to come up with core values that accurately represent you and the organization's purpose. 

An easy way to come up with core values is by thinking back to the passion that drove you to establish a nonprofit in the first place. On the other hand, if you're struggling with your core values take some time to question what's important to your nonprofit, what you admire from other organizations, and what you hope to accomplish through your organization in the long run.

Feel free to also visit the websites of other nonprofit organizations in order to get inspired and come up with ideas of your own. Always be authentic to your beliefs, purpose, and goal and make sure to have something that will set you apart from the rest. 

2. Budget and Costs

Nonprofit registration fees vary depending on the state you are in so you'll have to do some research in order to find out what costs you can expect according to your situation. Some of the main areas you should research when it comes to costs are:

  • The IRA's FAQ section on charitable organizations
  • The paperwork, costs, and time needed when filling for a nonprofit
  • The average costs of starting a nonprofit in your specific state

3. Fundraise for Startup Costs

One of the main reasons why a nonprofit may take longer to file for their charitable organization status is because of the costs associated with the process. However, crowdfunding for nonprofit costs is one of the fastest ways to raise money for those startup fees. 

Once you've done your research on how much money you'll need to get started, create a fundraiser with that goal in mind. Start with an online fundraiser. Make sure to share the link with your friends, family, coworkers, and everyone you know. Let them know to spread the word in order to reach an ever larger audience. You'd be surprised how much support you can receive with some simple word-of-mouth marketing. 

As you wait for your charitable organization to get approved, spend some time brainstorming event ideas, other ways to fundraise, and work on anything else that needs to be completed in order to bring your nonprofit full circle. Read up on fundraising tips and nonprofit best practices.

4. Incorporate your Nonprofit (optional)

Not every nonprofit needs to incorporate but it is definitely something that you should consider for extra legal protection. Being incorporated can also open doors for larger grants and makes the process of filing for tax exemption much smoother.

Some of the main things you need to do in order to incorporate your nonprofit include:

  • Gathering board members
  • Forming a board of directors
  • Creating bylaws
  • Filling out appropriate paperwork
  • Paying a fee

Visit for a five step list to follow when going through the process to receive your articles of incorporation documents. 

5. File for Tax-Exempt Status

The last step in establishing your nonprofit as a charitable organization is filing Form 1023 with the IRS. This form basically asks the government to recognize your organization as tax-exempt. The process of filing this form can be long and complex. It requires that you know your assets and liabilities as well as your revenue and expenses. You might need to solicit the help of an attorney in order to accurately complete this step and speed up the process.