Think of ways to solve a problem first.
Nonprofits are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.
And, 9 times out of 10, they are starting with the wrong end of the problem, because they are starting with a decision that should only be taken as the outcome of a thoughtful process that carefully identifies the real problem to be solved and explores alternative approaches to that problem.
This is crucial, because there are far too many failed and failing nonprofits in Oregon, and my two cents is that the reason that many are failing is because they didn't do the work that should have happened before anyone incorporated anything.
As the famous saying goes, when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
When you decide to start a nonprofit as the first step of addressing a problem, it's as if you're a person who has only seen hammers used, and so you ignore all the other tools that might be better for solving the real problem.
The first step to starting a successful nonprofit is making sure that the problem you want to solve is one that calls for a nonprofit solution. There are a wealth of other approaches out there, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and each one should be considered before taking the step of deciding that you need to form a nonprofit.
Successful nonprofits are a blessing, bringing great good to their communities. But unsuccessful ones are a terrible waste, because they don't serve their mission, they cause volunteer burnout, waste donor funds and patience, and sometimes they cause lawsuits or even criminal investigations.
If you want help understanding and applying the problem-solving approach to thinking about your "Do I need to start a nonprofit?" questions, feel free to contact me about an appointment.
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