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The wrong question to ask about starting a nonprofit

By David M. Holmes
November 11, 2019

David Holmes and Kelly xxx at the launch of Candid's Nonprofit Startup Assessment Tool
The author (left) and Kelly Mahon of the Kansas City Public Library at the launch of Candids Nonprofit Startup Assessment Tool

In my experience, the number one question people ask about starting a nonprofit is what seems like the obvious one: what forms do I fill out? As in, how do I know what the IRS and/or my state requires, and what do I put in the blanks on those forms, so that I can legally become a nonprofit, and legally accept tax-deductible donations?

Though it’s a good question, this is actually the wrong one. Or rather, it’s only one of the questions you need to ask yourself, and it’s not the top of the list. Consider some of these others: 

  • How feasible will it be for you/your founding team to put together a highly skilled board?
  • What pace of growth would you like to see in your organization?
  • Is the program you are implementing completely new, or is it modeled after a program at another organization?
  • Where do you intend to get the majority of your funding in your first two years of operations?

These are questions that you will definitely need to answer before you can comfortably move forward in starting a nonprofit organization. And they are not the only ones. Before you answer the questions above, you really should know ALL of the key questions that will come up while you are in the start-up process. 

Candid’s Nonprofit Startup Assessment Tool has 75 questions (and answers) about financial capital, nonprofit knowledge, program development, board development, and other areas that trip up the unsuspecting nonprofit entrepreneur. The tool will also identify the areas in which you need to improve your capacity, and it’s free! Complete the Nonprofit Startup Assessment Tool and find the answers to all the right questions. 

Need more help? Watch a video of our free class: Is Starting a Nonprofit Right for You?

Tags: Candid