Remember: you are not starting from scratch. Although your IRS status is new, you and your board bring tons of valuable experience. Brainstorm all the resources you already have and the people you know. Remember: you are 1 or 2 degrees away from the resources you need.
Do what you do best and delegate the rest. Avoid making the mistake many nonprofits make. Avoid trying to do everything yourself: fundraising, marketing, outreach, day-to-day operations, bookkeeping. Genius attracts genius. So, focus on what you do well (your genius). Let others fill in the gaps.
Build a strong and hard-working board. Get people in your directory who are “entrepreneurs” and willing to work hard to build credibility, network with corporate and individual donors, and lead fundraising events and campaigns.
Remember: the fastest path to success is to succeed quickly. You need successes under your belt to build credibility and get funders to trust you. Brainstorm a list of 10 projects you want to do with your nonprofit. Prioritize these in the order you think you can be successful the fastest. Make that first project a priority in your first year.
Build credibility, first. Without it, you are doomed in the world of grants and funding. If your agency doesn’t have a track record or has little credibility, you can build your credibility by implementing these 6 strategies in your first year:
*Partner with an agency that has credibility, especially on grants
*Create a new image, logo and slogan
*Strengthen your board
*Include the names of board members on your agency stationery
*Create a quarterly newsletter (print copy and online version)
*Create a high-quality annual report and distribute it widely
Make building your discretionary fund in years 1 and 2 a priority. Hold fundraising events and solicit corporate and individual donors. As soon as possible, hire a fundraiser. Then, leverage your discretionary funds to hire a trained professional to help you with grant applications and a strategic grant writing plan. Stick to the plan too.
Partner with other agencies on grants. Find agencies that are receiving grants in your area of interest. Provide supporting letters on your applications. Provide services that serve its clients and further its missions. Get experience working on other grants before you get your own.
Search grant clues. You may be lucky in your first year of operation. I served on the board of a non-profit organization that received a $600,000 grant in its first year through the United Nations. This was due to relationships that had been established for decades. So build relationships that result in grant opportunities. As soon as possible, hire a trained professional to help you create your grant list and write grants.