Resources for Start-Up Organizations

Starting a new organization is exciting and challenging. While it may be a natural extension of volunteer work you are already doing, managing the details of incorporation, writing your first proposal, and developing a board of directors may be something new to you. Fortunately, there are resources designed specifically for organizations just getting started. The following are a list of “greatest hits” to help you understand what is involved.

From Vision to Reality, A Guide to Launching a Successful Nonprofit Organization (también disponible en Español). Through worksheets, model documents, and plain language explanations, this handbook will guide you on how to design an effective program, create a budget, raise money, form a board of directors, hire staff and take all the steps you need to launch a successful nonprofit.  This publication is available for free online.

Two of the most important chapters for start-up organizations are “Getting Started” & “Fundraising.”  “Getting Started” describes how to obtain your 501(c)(3) status and walks through the process of designing programs. “Fundraising” describes how to develop a strong case statement for your work, determine the best ways to fund your work, write your first proposal, and formulate a fundraising plan.

For assistance filing your 501(c)(3), Lawyers Alliance of New York and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest provide pro-bono assistance.


The Foundation Center provides web-based and on-site assistance to help organizations identify prospective funding sources. They also offer workshops on proposal writing and news and research in the field of philanthropy.

The Grassroots Fundraising Journal is published every other month with much-needed information on how to build successful organizations. Each issue offers practical, how-to instruction on fundraising strategies such as direct mail, special events, major gift campaigns, and online fundraising.

Board Development:

The Grassroots Fundraising Journal includes articles on how to develop an effective board that is willing and able to raise money. Topics include running effective meetings, recruiting better board members, getting the board to raise money, and more. These articles are great to share with your board.

The Nonprofit Assistance Program for Nonprofits in St. Paul, Minnesota, offers information about the roles of the nonprofit board, critical documents, board staff relations, successful committees, evaluating a board’s performance, and links to other related resources.

Nonprofit Management:

CompassPoint’s Resources webpage offers users helpful information on nonprofit management-related topics and terminology.

The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York (NPCC) informs and connects nonprofit leaders, saves nonprofits money, and strengthens the nonprofit sector’s relations with the government. NPCC has created a compliance checklist part 1 and part 2 to help nonprofit leaders keep up with new management and governance guidelines. NPCC has a “checklist” of requirements with a direct link to sample forms that can be copied and modified to suit your organization.