The Critical Things You Need to Know to Make a Better Decision

Should You Start a Nonprofit?

According to the 2016 Nonprofit Trends Report nonprofit growth is climbing at a staggering rate. Some of these new organizations fill much-needed gaps in services, but others seem to nearly duplicate existing agency services. One of the most surprising trends? The demographic of nonprofit startup founders is shifting. Many of these organizations are being started by millennials, and other segments of the younger generations, as opposed to 10 and 20 years ago, when nonprofits were more commonly started by those in a 2nd phase life shift – semi retirees, etc.

This crush of new agencies, being led by new leaders, is changing the way nonprofits operate today. From the rise of social media to the new ways supporters are engaging and making donations, most agencies are understandably re-evaluating their long-held practices because some no longer work.

Just around the time we completed the Trends Report I received a call from a friend of mine — from my past life in the for-profit world. He and his wife were now empty-nesters and were considering what they wanted to do in this, the Second Half of their professional lives.

Starting up a nonprofit was high on their list of options and he asked me for some advice. Rather than giving them my own opinions, or point them in one direction, I opted to ask them several questions so they’d have a better sense of what they were facing if they did start up a new agency. I sensed they loved they idea of serving, but was not sure they fully grasped the implications of starting out on their own. My friend and his wife found several of these questions helpful in making their decision, so I wanted to share the most important ones with you — my reader. 

The 5 Most Critical Areas You Need to Address

  1. What specific cause or client group do you wish to serve?

  2. Do you truly feel passionate about helping this cause or client group?

  3. What experience do you have as a leader of a small, start up organization?

  4. How will you build a sustainable and scalable organization with a solid foundation so your agency can attract committed donors and other long term strategic partners?

  5. What other resources exist that can help you succeed?

These 5 key elements are only part of the equation you need to solve, to make a good decision. My team and I have created a free resource specifically designed to help you navigate this path — the 25 Questions Workbook. This workbook will expand on these 5 key areas, with 25 additional questions to help you build a roadmap to creating the nonprofit you envision.


Should you start a nonprofit? I can’t actually answer this question for you — only you can. What I can tell you, is that it’s not an easy decision. But armed with the right resources and information I’m confident you can make a solid choice.

Starting a nonprofit can be a challenge. The hours are long and the pay is low. At times there may even be no compensation at all. There is little recognition for your efforts, and you’ll put in countless hours with no one noticing. Nonprofit leadership is not for the faint of heart. You will need determination, optimism, and more grit then you can possibly imagine. But for those that feel compelled to make a difference — to change the world, provide a service, and help others, with little thought to their own rewards — no other role will fill those needs in the same way.

Personally, I am strongly in favor of nonprofit expansion and improved effectiveness as long as the new agencies are not just a duplication of ones already in existence. Nonprofits step in and fill gaps in our society in ways that absolutely no other organization or government can and my personal mission is to help every nonprofit become the best version itself. Part of that mission, however, is to be sure each new one has a specific calling and place where it can make a unique difference.

Are you ready to start a nonprofit? Leave a comment and share your vision for a new organization.