In Golden, BC, with our ample number of non profits, I would suggest that most needs can be addressed by working with an existing legal entity. It is much easier to start and run a new program under a large, established organization. For those that still want to start a society, here's some good advice from an expert.
(Reposted from Sheila Stenzel: Director, MineralsEd published in Business In Vancouver, http://www.biv.com.)
Ask the experts: I want to start a non-profit: what do I need to know?
Vision and productive group dynamics are key to a non-profit's startup succes.
There are so many things that contribute to the success of a non-profit organization, particularly a charitable organization, that must be attended to and worked on continuously:
•Your organization must have a unique and well-defined purpose. It must provide a service or resources in the area that no other group provides. In the case of our educational organization, MineralsEd was formed as a partnership between teachers and industry for the sole purpose of supporting curriculum-based minerals education in B.C. schools (K-12).
•Keep a razor-sharp focus. Based on the insight of key partners, define the roles of the organization and adhere to those precepts in all aspects of operation. Your programs can grow and adapt to changing needs, but the purpose and roles should not casually change.
•Build the organization with dedicated people who bring specific skills and have some degree of relevant expertise in the subject area but who also have heart for the work. Everyone must believe that high-level, big-picture goals are achieved through the day-to-day, ordinary work, and must bring a can-do attitude.
•Partner with those who will contribute quality guidance and expertise and ensure you are headed in the right direction. Ask them to be volunteers; they will add value and will see how your work affects others.
•Your organization's board should consist of respected leaders in your community and/or field, whose experience you can draw on to move your organization forward and who are passionate about your organization. They are invaluable in their championing your cause and in establishing credibility in the community.
•Establish effective communication with the audiences you must reach to keep them informed of your initiatives and outcomes.
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Golden Community Resources Society strives to capture and share knowledge that will help non profits serve their communities more efficiently.