How To Start a Successful Nonprofit: Next Steps

How To Start a Successful Nonprofit: Next Steps

Last week we wrote about Starting a Nonprofit 501c3: The Essential Guide. This week we continue with Part 2, How To Start A Successful Nonprofit: Next Steps. By now you have state and federal approval to begin the work of your new nonprofit organization. What’s next?

Create an Interesting Newsletter

To create a following of supporters and attract new donors, write engaging stories. You’ll want to write appealing content and make your newsletter enticing and interesting. Highlight stories of your new beginnings that are heartfelt and detailed. As months pass, you’ll have stories of how you helped to change the world. Thank donors and volunteers and showcase them each month. Your first donations make for great stories – speak loudly of them to inspire others to donate. A bi-weekly newsletter is best to keep folks engaged.

Follow Nonprofit SEO Best Practices

Maybe they’ve heard something about you and maybe they haven’t, but people need to be able to find your organization online. Whether people are looking for your organization or simply seeking a cause or event to support, they are likely to do an online search. When was the last time you went to page three of Google to find a service? Invest time and resources in SEO for your nonprofit website, if you want to succeed.

Donors Are Key to Starting a Successful Nonprofit

Fundraising for your new nonprofit is likely going to be important from the very start. A great way to find and engage new donors is through speaking engagements. Approach universities, church meetings, rotary clubs and libraries for opportunities. Holding an open house at your new nonprofit is another great place to inspire your community. Getting in front of an audience of potential volunteers and donors wins hearts and minds. Starting a successful nonprofit is accomplished with a continual influx of new donors and volunteers.

If a group of speakers conducts regular presentations, your nonprofit can potentially be in front of an audience once per week. This allows you to spread the word to many new people. Hold brainstorming sessions with administrators, staff, donors, board members and volunteers on speech writing. Coach your team on the key factors of bringing your mission and stories to audiences.

Crowdfunding is How to Grow Your Nonprofit

Crowdfunding Campaigns Grow Your Nonprofit 

Another concrete way to find new donors and volunteers is through nonprofit crowdfunding events. People form an allegiance to and give to nonprofits when their friends ask them to. Board members, volunteers, and staff reaching out to their friends, family and coworkers asking them to participate in a crowdfunding event holds magic.

Consider hosting the easiest and lowest cost crowdfunding events to begin. Walkathons are widely successful and easy for people of all ages to participate in. And why reinvent the wheel when you have examples of other walks held by charity organizations? The Harry Chapin Food Bank is a nonprofit who started from scratch and have a hugely successful annual walkathon. The video on their fundraising website homepage inspires, motivates and briefly goes to the heart of their mission – feeding the hungry.

Envision a crowdfunding campaign that reflects your passion through creativity, communication and innovation. Just one successful fundraising event per year can make the best crowdfunding ideas for nonprofits realized. Start with contributions from board members and donors. And next, show the public something to be excited about as you launch your crowdfunding website.

Crowdfunding campaigns rely on peer-to-peer crowdfunding software tools and social media networks. Crowdfunding or peer-to-peer software allows your supporters to get the word out of your new nonprofit. Your team manages the fundraising campaign, with much of the work being done by the website.

Some features and tools of DoJiggy’s crowdfunding software include:

  • Secure participant and team event registrations
  • Provides individual participants and teams with the ability to personalize the fundraising experience via their personal fundraising pages
  • Fundraising pages include images and videos, fundraising thermometers, a personal statement, social media integration links to easily share with friends and family and more
  • Top fundraiser leaderboards and event fundraising thermometers
  • Ability to easily track and distribute prizes and awards with our prize management system

Create Inspiring Videos

Finding out how to start a successful nonprofit is accomplished by learning from other charity organizations. Charities are recognizing more and more the impact video creates for their fundraising campaigns. Creating a nonprofit video keeps getting easier and does not have to be expensive. Creating videos with your phone and posting them is free – so is Facebook Live. Find more specific information in our article on creating videos.

Easterseals is the biggest US nonprofit and has a one minute video on their homepage. It clearly shares their mission statement and reaches the hearts of potential donors. As you are just starting your nonprofit, find university students as volunteers to help you create an inspiring video. They’ll be grateful for the experience and may appreciate a letter of reference.

Facebook Live Video streaming is all the rage. Facebook Live videos go straight to the top of your constituents news feeds. Photos, videos and posts do not. It is easier to build an audience with live streaming. Potential donors are able to share the streaming content while it is live. They’ll have the pleasure of watching the same presentation with their loved ones and colleagues. It is a richer experience than sharing a photo or article. They are more intimate given participants can participate with comments and questions. Find more detailed information in our article on turning social media followers into donors.

Experience how to start a successful nonprofit with the help of Facebook Live:

  • Live streaming presentations gives your new nonprofit an opportunity to introduce your mission and staff. With the actual program staff present, donors will feel their passion. They’ll feel as though they are a part of your work. Share the obstacles and challenges of the program. Ask for feedback. Share the costs involved without asking donors for money.
  • Announce an event fundraising campaign with live streaming. Tell donors what your needs to make a crowdfunding event successful. Inform them of how the fundraising income will be used. Tell them a story of the need of a family your nonprofit serves, for example.
  • Expert speakers make for engaging Facebook Live sessions. Education, conservation, homelessness, poverty, cancer research – bring inspiring speakers to the forefront who speak to your work. Donors will have a chance to ask questions and make comments. Allow your donors to be thought leaders as you engage them in your work.
  • Hold Facebook Live town hall meetings for potential donors to voice their opinions and raise questions to your charity organization. They’ll like being exposed to other donors and community members, giving them a sense of belonging. Tell them what furniture and supplies you need for your new nonprofit – it’s likely they’ll want to help you.

Create a Monthly Giving Program

Starting a monthly giving program is a great way to create monthly revenue for your new nonprofit.  Tell potential donors how many people you need to start one to motivate them. Offer several levels of giving starting at just $10. Many people are able to give this amount if inspired. Inspire them by saying what that money provides for your nonprofit specifically. If you are a new school, share the costs of paper, pencils and crayons for one child. For higher levels of monthly giving, share the cost of books or a lunch program for one child per year.

Share your monthly giving program at public speaking engagements. Share it in your newsletter, emails and social media pages. Finally, showcase your next steps in starting a nonprofit 501c3 on your nonprofit website. Add instant messaging to your homepage so potential donors and volunteers can get the information they request quickly. Use great software and test your donation page regularly. Make using your new nonprofit website a pleasure. It is your face to the public.

As you thank your first few donors, others will be inspired to join. Starting a successful nonprofit is realized through monthly revenue. As your programs grow, potential donors will start to hear your stories of success through the work of your new nonprofit.

Apply for Grants

Reflect who you are in every part of your grant application. One way to make sure it does is to gather stakeholder thoughts on the project you want funded. Ask for their help in identifying the aspects of your plan that are most unique to your nonprofit. Align your proposal with the granting foundation or agency. Understand what their mission is.

A phone call, email or meeting with the grantor can be a good idea to discuss the alignment of your nonprofit mission and plans. Introducing yourself and your organization in order to request further information about the grant program is the best way to initiate contact.

Forming a grant writing team for each grant proposal is best. Focus first on understanding all aspects of the grant and the grantor. Next, assign sections of the grant application to each team member.


There are many more steps to take in starting a successful nonprofit. Getting started with confidence and fortitude leads to new projects and donations. See our fundraising strategies for nonprofits article and consider a few other areas, such as a major gifts program and volunteer recruitment strategies.

Maureen Peine

About Maureen Peine

Maureen has been writing and marketing for DoJiggy for 8 years, and has a strong background in nonprofit fundraising. While with The Nature Conservancy for 7 years prior, she learned the inner workings of marketing to the State of California within the external affairs department. Her heart is in her writing as she believes in the power of change through nonprofit organizations.

See other posts from Maureen Peine