Our 501c3 Journey: Preparation Is Key! (Part 1)


Many people ask me how we were able to glide through this process. This isn’t to imply that we had zero trouble spots because, believe me, we did. However, it was a smoother process than we first believed. It all started with preparation.My graduate school professor always told the class that one of the top reasons Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) fail is due to a lack of preparation. Passionate individuals have a tendency to run head first into the process without taking the time to research the field. This can usually do one of two things:

  • Make you feel so overwhelmed and frustrated with the entire process OR
  • Set you back because you have made some rookie mistakes you could have avoided

So how do you avoid these problems?


The idea of Voice4Society came about during my undergraduate program. That was about three or four years ago. Although the idea was there, the dedication to make it a reality wasn’t. When I started graduate school, I decided that it was time to revive my dream. It was at that point that I started to research the field of non-profits, specifically youth mentorship. I found that the wealth of information was completely overwhelming (and getting through it was a giant snooze-fest) !! A simple google research can land you into a world of information overload.

This is why it’s a smart idea to understand this before starting your journey. Thinking back to everything we’ve experienced (mistakes, successes, and everything in between) I was able to compile a brief guide that should jumpstart your planning process. We’ll expand on these ideas in future articles (don’t worry!). Ponder over the points listed below and start sketching out your plan of action!

  • The “Edge Factor”: What is the mission and purpose of your organization? What gives it that edge that sets you apart from others? Chances are, you won’t have an idea that someone at some point in history never thought about but you are the one that will implement it in a specific place and reach a specific audience. Your “Edge Factor” is what will differentiate you from your fellow do-gooders. It will also serve as your selling point when you start networking. Don’t know where to start? Think about the reason why you wanted to start this in the first place. Everyone loves a good story! (Just make sure it’s a true story!)
  • Location: It’s important to know what community you will be serving. It’s equally important to know who else is serving that need in the community. Don’t view existing organizations as your competition but rather as future collaborators! The more people you know, the better it is for your organization. Connection is key!
  • Specific Sub-Sector: So you decided to serve the public sector…hooray! But what sub-sector will you be serving? Is it the healthcare arena? Or maybe it’s marketing? Possiblly mental health? Figure that out. It will help you as you build your roadmap. As you go through this journey, you will be chiseling down your big dream into a very specific manageable dream. It will take time, but you will get there!
  • Timeline: You are going to get really busy really quickly! So you need to set up a timeline, at least for the first year after 501c3 approval. With this set in place, it will give you even more guidance in navigating during your first year of existence. Remember, flexibility is key in some stages. This is one of them.

There are 5 other points but I will address them in Part 2 which will be released next month so stay tuned for that!

If this article helps you at all, feel free to share it with your circle!


Until next time,

Stay Inspired!

~ Tiffany J. (Executive Director)


2 thoughts on “Our 501c3 Journey: Preparation Is Key! (Part 1)”

  1. Good advice, Tiffany! I would include getting great people on your Board of Directors that will balance your weaknesses with their strengths and are committed to the process. Without those who’ve joined us @ Sparrow’s Hope for Girls, I could not be doing this alone!

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