January 29, 2023

These are the sources and instruments I’ve used to launch and develop my nonprofit, Second Wind Bicycles, during the last two years.

In 2021, through the pandemic, the used bicycle market was alive as folks sought out of doors actions to flee cabin fever. This impacted organizations such because the Milford Advocacy for the Homeless

After listening to about their wrestle to find bicycles, I began my very own hunt. The extra success I had the more durable it drove me. I reached out to different homeless shelters and organizations and located this was a standard unfilled want. My nonprofit, Second Wind Bicycles, was born.

With a gentle stream of bicycles flowing in, it was time to outline our mission and make issues official. Our mission is to find used bicycles, restore them, and supply them for free of charge to these in want, together with the homeless, refugees, the aged, at-risk people, teenagers, and youngsters.

Leap forward to a bit for particular recommendation:

Hundreds of bikes sitting outside waiting for a person who needs one.

With my mission in hand, I turned my consideration to making a nonprofit group. That journey taught me many useful classes. I had many questions and few solutions. As I spoke with others, I discovered that they had comparable experiences. Listed here are a few of the most typical questions and what I realized.

The primary few steps to begin a nonprofit

Begin along with your group identify and brand. Each group wants a compelling identify and brand. In the event you need assistance growing a brand, I extremely suggest utilizing Logo.com. Reply a couple of questions and they’ll give you brand concepts for free of charge. Don’t neglect to double-check that your nonprofit identify isn’t already taken by looking out the IRS nonprofit database.

After I had these two objects, I used AWeber to buy the area SecondWindBicycles.org and used AWeber’s landing page builder to publish the web site. 

Then I signed up for Google Workspace for $6 monthly (and it was finally free – see additional down). Google Workspace supplied me with a devoted e mail tackle on my area (e.g. [email protected]). With Google Workspace, you additionally get Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Drive, Voice, and some different helpful apps. 

Google Voice, particularly, is nice to have. It offers you a cellphone quantity for your online business. Having a devoted web site, e mail tackle, and cellphone quantity is crucial given all of the paperwork required with establishing a nonprofit. Plus, they show a degree of professionalism that’s key to getting donors.

ALERT: This isn’t official authorized recommendation.

Getting your nonprofit arrange within the eyes of the regulation could be essentially the most intimidating a part of getting began. However I’ve executed it and I’m right here to inform you what you’ll want, and easy methods to do it.

Step one is submitting as an organization inside your native state. The paperwork to finish this step is often discovered in your state’s web site. A fast strategy to get began is to Google “register nonprofit in [YOUR STATE]”. When you’ve registered and acquired your Articles of Incorporation doc out of your state, you may petition the federal authorities for nonprofit standing.

The IRS website supplies kinds and tutorials that will help you get all the pieces submitted. Earlier than finishing these kinds, make sure to receive a Federal EIN, decide your tax exemption type, and formalize who shall be in your Board of Administrators. These are all required to finish the paperwork. 

Except for the charge related to every submitting, you are able to do all of this by yourself and free of charge. Or you may select to make use of a paid service like LegalZoom that does many of the give you the results you want. 

After a lot deliberation, I made a decision to make use of LegalZoom for this a part of my journey. Please remember that processing your nonprofit standing takes time. The IRS supplies a time estimate of 3-6 months.

Additionally make sure to examine in case your state has any extra necessities for nonprofits. As an example, I reside in Pennsylvania and so they require nonprofits to register with their state-run Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations. Being registered was additionally a requirement to use for a number of in-state grants.

The right way to obtain and course of financial donations

One of the simplest ways to get lots of donations is to make donating as straightforward as potential. Second Wind Bicycles has quite a lot of methods to gather financial donations. First, I constructed a donation page utilizing AWeber’s touchdown web page builder. That web page features a built-in choice to donate on the spot through Stripe and a button for PayPal. I additionally added a QR Code to the web page to assist with fast cellular donations. I arrange Venmo to broaden the choices out there to my donors.

Second Wind Bicycles donation landing page, built in AWeber.

Fundraising is one other nice strategy to elevate cash. I registered with Amazon Smile which donates a small portion of every buy somebody makes on Amazon to your charity. Platforms reminiscent of Facebook and Go Fund Me are great locations I used to arrange fundraising campaigns that I may share with my viewers. I additionally created an Amazon Wishlist of commonly-used bicycle components that individuals can immediately buy.

When registering your charity with Amazon Smile and Amazon Wishlist, Amazon makes use of a service known as GuideStar to listing eligible charities. You will need to register with GuideStar first, which might take a number of weeks. Facebook Fundraisers additionally takes a number of weeks to obtain approval, so plan forward.

Have a thanks letter template ready for once you obtain bodily or financial donations. Some organizations want a letter or receipt as a part of their documentation.

The right way to funds cash in your nonprofit

It’s all about being aware of prices. As a nonprofit, there are numerous methods to save cash. In relation to software program, many companies supply discounted pricing to nonprofits. In the event you aren’t positive, merely Google the corporate identify and add the phrases “nonprofit pricing” to your search. 

As an example, AWeber offers nonprofits three months free of Pro and then 25% off after that. Google has a program known as Google for Nonprofits which supplies a lot of its instruments reminiscent of Google Workspace (Gmail, Sheets, Docs, Slides, Drive), and Google Adverts free of charge. To enroll in Google for Nonprofits, you need to have a Tech Soup account which might take a number of days to approve.

Don’t neglect to have a look at different methods to save cash as effectively. Stripe, PayPal, and Venmo all supply decrease processing charges to nonprofits. In relation to charges, each greenback saved helps. Pennsylvania expenses a 6% gross sales tax on most purchases, however in addition they supply a gross sales tax exemption for qualifying companies. I accomplished the mandatory paperwork and was permitted. This helps me lower your expenses each time I place an order for extra bicycle components.

To maintain me on funds and all the pieces so as, I set up all monetary transactions in QuickBooks. Very early on I recorded all the pieces in a spreadsheet till it turned clear that it was time to discover a higher resolution. QuickBooks is just not the most cost effective resolution, however all the pieces integrates with it. Connecting the enterprise checking account and bank card was a breeze. These integrations pull over each transaction you will have into QuickBooks. It’s an enormous time saver and reduces handbook errors.

A row of bicycles ready to be picked up.

The right way to handle day-to-day enterprise operations

I exploit Google Workspace for all of my day-to-day enterprise actions. It consists of Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Drive, and some extra instruments. These are essential for my on a regular basis duties like managing stock, documenting repairs, bicycle donations, bicycle deliveries, and way more.

I depend on AWeber to host my web site and settle for donations, which is a crucial method for me to work together with people as I should not have a storefront. QuickBooks has additionally been an important a part of my accounting and its strong set of pre-built stories makes it straightforward to organize for board conferences. I exploit Vistaprint as a quick and handy supply of enterprise playing cards, indicators, banners, shirts, decals, and extra.

You’ll want insurance coverage in your nonprofit group. There are no less than two forms of insurance coverage you must think about: Basic Legal responsibility insurance coverage and Administrators & Officers Legal responsibility insurance coverage. Take time to analysis each of them and communicate with an insurance coverage agent that makes a speciality of small enterprise insurance coverage.

The right way to handle your personal time when working a nonprofit

I attempt to keep a 70/30 break up between tactical and strategic work, respectively. The tactical work consists of repairing bicycles, ordering components, speaking with companions, and organizing pickups and deliveries. The strategic aspect focuses on optimization, planning, grants, enlargement, projecting, partnerships, and many others.

Professional tip: Constructing and working a nonprofit comes with a fair proportion of kinds and paperwork. Conserving these useful and in PDF digital kind will prevent lots of time. 

Frequent paperwork embrace:

  • Employer Identification Quantity Letter (from the IRS)
  • Letter of Willpower (from the IRS notating your nonprofit standing)
  • Articles of Incorporation (out of your state displaying your authorized enterprise entity)
  • Charitable Group Certificates (particular to Pennsylvania charities solely)
  • Gross sales Tax Exempt Letter (particular to Pennsylvania solely)

The right way to talk along with your viewers

For Second Wind Bicycles, our viewers is made up of three distinct teams of individuals: those that want a bicycle, these donating a bicycle, and people offering financial donations.

The first methods folks have found Second Wind Bicycles are by means of Google search, native signage, and phrase of mouth. Folks discover our web site on Google search and I run Google Adverts (that are free by means of Google’s nonprofit program). To rank in related searches, you should do some little bit of web optimization: Determine key phrases that concentrate on subjects related in your nonprofit. In my case, that’s “bicycle donation,”  “homeless, refugees,” “used bicycles,” and many others. 

I haven’t began an e mail listing but, however after I’m prepared I received’t must buy any extra instruments as AWeber has me coated.

In relation to social media, I don’t consider there’s a single technique that may work for everybody. You don’t should be on each platform, but it surely is smart to have some kind of presence. Take into consideration what social networks your viewers prefers. Begin small. You may at all times broaden into different platforms as mandatory. I opted to create a Fb Web page and a LinkedIn profile the place I put up updates about current donations and bicycle deliveries.

The right way to develop your nonprofit

Overseeing a nonprofit is a balancing act of instant wants and the will to develop and broaden. With the ability to deal with progress begins with having a strong Board of Administrators with balanced views, contributing members, and constructive suggestions. Development is just not a straight line. Encompass your self with native enterprise folks, leaders, and mentors.

Hold your eyes open for potential alternatives. Discuss to folks. Ask them for his or her opinion. Obtain concepts with an open thoughts. I’ve had great insights from each direct and oblique conversations. These conversations hold your most urgent considerations on the forefront of your thoughts, and that retains your thoughts versatile for potential alternatives. rule of thumb is to deal with each individual you meet with the expectation that they’re the lacking piece to take you to the following degree.

Considering forward

The long run seems to be vivid for Second Wind Bicycles. We proceed to make new connections with our neighborhood and charitable organizations. We have now a ardour for partnering with folks to make a distinction in our neighborhood. Having the chance to serve others is a blessing. 

We gasoline our group with smiles. There may be nothing higher than the smile a bicycle brings to somebody’s face. We plan to maintain these smiles coming effectively into the longer term. 

In case you are excited by following our journey, observe us on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Are you beginning a nonprofit and must construct an e mail listing, purchase and register a website, host a web site/touchdown web page, and settle for donations? You are able to do all that in AWeber. Get started for free and study extra about our nonprofit pricing for paid plans.