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How Do I Form a New NGO?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning

When starting a new non-governmental organization (NGO) there are several elements to consider. They include ideological, financial, and legal tasks involved in start-up. Before starting a new NGO it can also be helpful to determine whether there are the resources available to make these things happen.

Once it has been established that there is a need for the new NGO, developing a mission statement is a typical first step. This can give the founders a better sense of the organization’s purpose in addition to making it easier to communicate its goals to others. It can also serve as a starting point for determining what specifically needs to be done to launch the NGO.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Another important task of starting a new NGO is to appoint a board of directors. A group with a wide range of talents and connections, in addition to a passionate interest in the cause, tends to be the most effective. The first board of an NGO does not need to have many members. A smaller group that is able to work closely together may be more desirable

The next common step of starting a new NGO is to take care of the basic legal aspects of formation. This includes filling out forms, preparing articles of incorporation, and deciding upon a name that is not already in use by another organization. It also involves creating bylaws. It is wise to hire a professional to help with these tasks in order to ensure that every step is completed properly.

Another element of forming a new NGO is making a financial plan. This includes determining both how finances will be handled and determining methods of fundraising. Hiring an accountant can ease the process and help the organization to ensure that it is acting legally and in its best financial interests. Some aspects of financial management include deciding what form of record keeping to use, whether to have bookkeeping managed internally or by a contractor, and determining how to allocate initial donations as they come in. It is also advisable to make a plan for fundraising, including finding funds for start-up costs and potentially at least one major donor.

Once the ideological, legal, and financial framework is in place for a new NGO, the organization will typically need to find staff and volunteers. How many individuals to recruit depends upon the nature of the organization. In many cases, it is easier to start with a small, easily-manageable group while the organization determines its best mode of operations.

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