A member of TuDiabetes wrote to me asking about my thoughts on starting a nonprofit. I thought I’d share the non-private elements of the conversation on my blog…
1) Starting a nonprofit is not for everyone, but it is one of the most rewarding things you may find yourself doing in your life. Setting a 501(c)(3) (or an equivalent tax exempt organization in the case of other countries) takes up a significant effort. It’s not only about offering your services: it includes staying compliant in a number of fronts once you file for tax exempt status and once you are approved as a 501(c)(3) (sometimes also referred to as, once you receive your “determination letter”). This is something many people are not as fully aware of going into this world. Being able to keep your doors open involves making sure you do things right (compliance) and you get the necessary funding in the door to be a sustainable (fundraising).
2) Would I do this again? I have no doubt about it… but I would also consider avenues such as Fiscal Sponsorships to help alleviate some of the initial burden. Some groups doing amazing social work have remained as a fiscally sponsored project for their entire lives. Some outgrow this stage and spin off into their own 501(c)(3). I have written about fiscal sponsorship before in this post.
3) Partnering and working with others as a way to help: before embarking on doing your own thing, I highly recommend looking at what others are doing. There is an excellent chance that someone out there is already offering such a service or working on doing so. As commendable as it is to take matters in your own hands, it may help even more people if you consider supporting the work someone else is doing… you would be surprised how much help others need and how much you can multiply your impact by partnering. It’s FAR more than the power of 2!
And… while you are reading this, I guess it doesn’t hurt for me to ask you to support our work at the Diabetes Hands Foundation, as we celebrate five years of TuDiabetes.