Are you ready to start working on setting up a nonprofit? This is a question that is often overlooked. After all, you have an idea. You want to solve a certain problem. Or you want to preserve something beautiful and valuable. So – time to get going!

Isn’t it?

Well, maybe it isn’t.

Maybe you are not ready just yet.

And maybe it is better to know this before you get going and get frustrated because you cannot seem to move forward.

What am I on about?

What I mean is this. Having an idea and a motivation to make something better is not enough.

OK, what else do you need then?

If you want to achieve real results, you need a team on your side. Starting from the moment of setting up your nonprofit. You need others to share some of your beliefs and desires. If no-one seems to see the point, you might start wondering about the point yourself. Of course, there are always ideas that are ahead of their time and are not well-understood at first (remember the first iPhone….). But it is good to check if your idea is a new-iPhone-type-of-idea or an idea-in-need-of-a-bit-more-tweaking-before-it-becomes-relevant-to-others.

OK, is there more?

You need others not only to be sure your idea is relevant and needed, but also to share the workload. A nonprofit requires much time and attention, especially in the start-up phase. Because that is when you need to work on the organization itself, in addition to working on what it is there to achieve. You need to figure out what the best form of registration is and how to do this. How to comply with specific legal requirements. And you need to set up systems for internal monitoring and management of human and financial resources.

Time and motivation

All this takes time. And requires strong motivation. Because when you got the idea to set up a nonprofit to address a certain topic, for sure you were not thinking about legalese and admin stuff. And maybe these things will never become a hobby for you. So, you will need a strong drive to pass through the must-haves so that you can set up your nonprofit properly and get going neatly. For this, too, it is helpful to have others around. People who can help each other stay motivated during times the tasks are boring or seem endless.

Real time and real motivation

It is important to make sure you have brought together the right mix of people. And to make especially sure that everyone is honest about how much time they have available and how much of a priority the nonprofit is or can be for them at the moment.

Too often, I have seen that enthusiastic founders pressured others to go along while these others were not ready at all at that time. This led to frustration on all sides because things did not get done. And the whole process of setting up something positive, for good, became something of a chore that no-one felt happy about anymore because of all the frustrations.

Know that you cannot force others to make time if they do not really want to. You can only force them to say yes, while they do no. As soon as you sense that people are not able or willing to prioritize the work for your nonprofit, go find other people to help you. Or choose to go it alone, or with a smaller group. Do not fall into the trap of creating a big group of yes-men who are no good to your cause in reality.


All this is true of course also after the start-up phase, but if you plan well and have a bit of luck you might be able to hire someone with a crazy passion and love for finance, admin, procedures, templates, formats, etc.

If you are not that person, make sure you find one and can afford to pay one. Because this investment will pay itself back over and over again in your internal (finance) management and external (donor) relations.

Want to dig deeper?

Then check out my free mini course Build a solid base for your nonprofit. The first step addresses readiness. The second step focuses on vision, mission and values. And in the third step you will outline your strategic directions.

Want to know more and ask questions?

Then check out my Facebook page here. I will have weekly Facebook Live sessions on my page in July. The first will be on Thursday 2 July 2020 and will focus on readiness and how to assess if you are ready.

If you have any questions you want to submit, please drop me a note here, via e-mail or via Facebook Messenger.

Tentative time for the Live session is 2pm, CET, but check out the announcement on the page to be sure. I will announce the exact time on Monday evening 29 June.