How to Start a Nonprofit Organization

Published Date: Mar 20, 2017 | Blog Category: eWomenNetwork
Phyllis Smith

You are a business owner, and you have decided it's time to give back to your community. You're ready to fight for a cause you are passionate about. So you decide to setup a nonprofit foundation (501c3). It's a beautiful thing, but it takes a lot more than passion and heart.

For Profit vs. Nonprofit

The two main differences between a for profit and a nonprofit business are:

  1. Non-profits may be eligible for certain benefits, such as sales, property, and income tax exemptions at the state level. 

  2. For-profit and non-profit mean just that. With a for-profit business, the owners and shareholders generally receive the profits. With a nonprofit, any money that's left after the organization has paid its bills is put back into the organization.

Getting Started 

eWomenNetwork's Founder & CEO, Sandra Yancey, began the eWomenNetwork Foundation soon after she started her company back in 2000. She knew giving back would be integral to her business model. The philosophy at eWomenNetwork is to "Give First, Share Always and Lift as We Climb."

Here are some general questions and guidelines Sandra recommends when starting a non-profit:

  1. Do research - what are the federal/state requirements and guidelines. Each state has different guidelines. Click here to find out what your state requirements are. 

  2. What is your core mission - The eWomenNetwork Foundation's mission is, "Supporting the Financial Health of Women and Children." It's extremely important that you are crystal clear on your mission and that all who are involved in your organization are clear as well. This will help prevent confusion and make it easier to attract more donors during fundraising efforts. 

  3. What are your fundraising strategies? Events? Mailings? Online? 

  4. Clearly define who is a qualified recipient. This will likely be generated when you get clear on your core mission. 

  5. How will the business be governed? All non-profits need a board of directors, which is the governing body of the organization that oversees fiduciary and legal responsibilities. The board of directors can also form an advisory board which doesn't have legal rights that the board of directors has, but its members serve more as ambassadors for the organization along with other fundraising, program input and sponsorship. It's important to differentiate between the two "boards." Click here to learn more.  

  6. What is your distribution process? Will you deliver your goods or funds annually? Quarterly?


2016 eWomenNetwork Humanitarian of the Year 


Each year at the eWomenNetwork International Conference, an award goes to an extraordinary humanitarian. The 2016 winner is Shamayim 'Shu' Harris, known lovingly as "Mama Shu." After losing her 2 year old child as he got hit by a car while crossing the street, she decided to turn her grief into helping others. 

 In the middle of one of Detroit's most blighted and abandoned neighborhoods, Mama "Shu" and her team of engineers, futurists, artists, urban farmers, and their nationwide allies are reimagining public and private space which she calls
The Avalon Village

Click above to watch!

More Resources for Starting a Nonprofit

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is a great resource for helping you get started. It offers a step-by-step process to get you on your way.

  • has some great tips on how to start a non-profit organization. 

  • eWomenNetwork is in the process of developing a training curriculum on a variety of essential topics critical to the economic growth and stability to nonprofits worldwide. Topics include, " How to Get More Big Donors, "Budget for Attraction," " 3 Steps to Creating a Work Space that Makes You More Productive and Profitable" and "Budget for Attraction: The key to attracting more money for your organization and making a bigger impact." Stay tuned, because soon you will have access to this free training at

Is a Nonprofit Right for You?

Sometimes people make the mistake of becoming a nonprofit, because they think they will be able to raise more money. But a nonprofit business is very complex. Each state has its own guidelines, and the IRS has its own guidelines. It can be a very difficult and arduous process, but in the end can be very rewarding as well as you fulfill your dream to make the planet a better place.

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Creator and curator of game-changing content,
Phyllis Smith
Content Manager, eWomenNetwork

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  • Julia Sutton on 05/15/2017 08:24 PM

    Hi Phyllis, I've been working on a book which 20% of the proceeds will go to a cause. My book is definitely for-profit. Do you have any suggestions on how to set this up, so that it benefits everyone?


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