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This week I sent my first born child (my baby) to kindergarten for his first week of school. All parents have felt the same – nervous, excited, sad and excited. Change is difficult, no matter how old you get, and everyone has some level of anxiety related to trying something new. The same can be said for startup nonprofits. I am frequently asked to write grants for startup nonprofits who are eager to get started. Like my son, I am offering some advice to prepare you for the road ahead.

  1. Advanced Preparation – My son received a packet in the mail in advance of school to prepare him for his first day. As an organization, what have you done to prepare yourself? Did you conduct market research? Do you have a strategic plan? Do you have a budget and program specific budgets (as applicable)? These are some of the basics in order to move forward to meet you goals. Nonprofits
  1. Playing Well with Others – We always teach our children the importance of being friendly and playing well with others. Within the nonprofit sector, collaboration and partnerships are essential. Have you made inroads with other organizations? Can you leverage their expertise and also support on collaborative grant proposals? Are there certain programs that you can do together? Does your board of directors have the skills needed to govern the organization? Does your organization have the human capital and other resources needed to succeed?
  1. Clarity and Focus – You know the old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” If I didn’t purchase school supplies and add lunch money to my son’s cafeteria account, he would be less able to be successful in school. When you think about what you hope to achieve as an organization, can you articulate your mission, vision, goals, objectives, outputs and outcomes? How will you focus on what is important in order to achieve your goals and adhere to your mission and vision? Start little by little and avoid the trap of taking on too much at one time (including fundraising).

While these represent a sampling of what a startup nonprofit needs to set a path towards success, it is a start. Need coaching? Contact rachel@rbwstrategy.com to discuss your next steps in more depth.


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