You don’t need a nonprofit to do good in this world. In fact, there are an awful lot of nonprofits out there that don’t do any good because they’re just trying to survive.
This article is certainly not self-serving because I make money from helping set up nonprofits. So, why am I writing it? I’m taking my time to write this article because it’s an important conversation I have with all of my nonprofit startup clients.
There are other ways to accomplish charitable missions besides forming a nonprofit.
Do Good as a For Profit Business
Regardless of entity type, you can do good as a for-profit company. You can even raise money for causes you support. The key is knowing the differences between for-profit and nonprofit businesses. After that, you can decide if nonprofit is the only option for you.
In addition to LLCs, corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships, there’s also a branch of businesses called social enterprises. One variety of these is the B Corp.
Join Another Nonprofit
There’s always a need for volunteers in the nonprofit world. Before you start your own, check to see if you could do more good by volunteering, joining a board, or raising funds for another organization. If they have the same or similar mission as you wanted yours to have, you can greatly increase the good done by joining forces.
Do it Yourself
Not all good requires formal structure. If you want to see good done, you’re usually allowed to just go do good.
We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.
Gandhi obviously did not instruct us to form a 501c3 organization prior to changing the world. Just go out and do it if you want it done.
When Do You Need A Nonprofit
Now that I’ve thoroughly discouraged you from starting your own nonprofit, I also have to include that there are times it makes sense.
There are tax benefits if you’re taking donations or you’re contributing a large amount of your own money.
There’s also liability protections by having a nonprofit versus acting as an individual.
Finally, there are credibility advantages. People still like dealing with nonprofits because they believe there’s more legitimacy there.
You Don’t Need a Nonprofit to do Good
In conclusion, you don’t need a nonprofit to do good. You might want to form a nonprofit for some of those advantages I listed above. However, I sincerely hope you stop and think about whether it’s necessary to form your own first. Look into other organizations. Join a board. Volunteer a bunch. Get involved in the community before you start your own organization.
Then, if you do decide to start your own nonprofit, check out my article on Starting your North Carolina Nonprofit. That article is the step-by-step guide you’ll need to do it right.