“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.”
-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.

Steps to Starting Your Own Nonprofit Organization

1. Dream. It all starts with an idea.
2. Test out your business idea, research it and make sure the idea is a good one.
3. Reserve your business/organization name.
4. Design a logo (or ask someone that can to do this for you) and order business cards.
5. Decide who your trusted board members are, and invite them to your first meeting.
6. Incorporate your business.
7. Create (or copy, paste and modify) bylaws.
8. Create a bank account (and keep receipts for everything).
– somewhere in between, have your first meeting (Notes, notes, notes! Record those volunteer hours!) –
9. Create an excel budget worksheet.
10. Create bylaws.
11. Form 1023 – Fill in the blanks.
12. Form 1023 – Complete the requested attachments.
13. Form 1023- Look through and verify directions for the attachments.
14. Take a break from form 1023 before you lose your mind.
15. Come back to form 1023 and review everything.
16. Make an appointment with the Small Development Center in your area.

I’m here, I’m here!! Can we all just take a moment to celebrate Peace Tree Africa’s progress thus far?! When we look back this way, it looks (and feels) really good. But nothing was more encouraging than the look on Chuck’s face when I spread out all of the loose pages of that evil form and its’ attachments.

Once I found out that the Small Business Development Center was available to me, for FREE, I scheduled an appointment, and a week later I was sitting with Chuck, Director of the Governmental Programs Division. I didn’t know where to start, so I spread out my documents for him to see and pulled out my list of questions. He read over the Activities narrative, and after a brief explanation of PTA’s goals, he looked at me, shook his head yes and said, “this will work”. He responded to my questions of worry and doubt, and was sure to let me know that I was already on the right track; apparently, most people visit him for the wrong reasons, or with out a business sense at all, and the fact that I had already taken initiative had made an impression on him. He warned me that it would take several + months for the IRS to approve our forms (and provide us with tax-exempt status), but that he felt the organization would succeed because it is unique.. .and because I am DETERMINED it to happen. Hey, he even gave me an awesome contact!!

I made an appointment for Monday. I’m going to complete the 3 years of budget estimations (which by the way, are only a rough estimate of what you think it will be like), and bring in all of the final documents for Chuck’s review before sending off for IRS approval. I’ve never been so excited for paper work to be filed! And from there, my friends, I believe that step # 17 will be marketing, fund raising and grant writing.

About Tara

Tara received her degree in French and Communications before jetting off to serve Cameroon for 2 years with the Peace Corps. She has forever since been inspired to serve in humanitarian projects around the world. She's a writer, tour guide, business owner, property manager, wifey, dog mom, and traveler. Tara lives in Dallas, Texas, where she's happily married to the tech genius who keeps her website pretty.

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