If you do decide to start a nonprofit, you will not be alone. The number of U.S. nonprofits has grown at twice the rate of for-profit organizations. There are an estimated 1.6 million nonprofits in the US, and it is quite likely that someone already has your idea. So, before you go ahead, try answering these questions:
Am I cut out for this?
Starting a nonprofit is very much like starting a business. However, you'll have to find donors and maybe even investors who are interested in making a difference, rather than a profit. However, nonprofits are expected to be run as well as businesses.
You will need a business plan plus produce measurable results. You will, just like a business owner, have to put in long hours, probably without pay, until you can get the new enterprise up and going. Some people who start NPOs have to keep their paying jobs during the startup period, and some organizations are even completely run by volunteers. You will need not only passion for your cause but a big dose of entrepreneurial spirit.
Do you have the skills to start a nonprofit? Running any organization requires good management and administrative skills, and a nonprofit is no exception. You might be driven by your passion for a cause, but that will be no substitute for skill and experience. You can augment your own skill set by bringing together supporters who have the experience and skills you may lack. Those early supporters could become your board members or your first staff members.
Can you inspire others? You'll need to convince donors to support your endeavor, and inspire staff to work hard under sometimes difficult circumstances.
When the Chronicle of Philanthropy asked readers about the qualities that people who work in nonprofits need, the top ones were passion, creativity, persistence, vision, and the ability to collaborate. Do you have these qualities?