How exciting to know that you want to start your own 501c3!  The first step of making that commitment and acknowledging that your soul is calling you to serve is an awakening milestone.  Congratulations!

The next phase of your journey involves three critical components.  There is no time limit to complete this phase.

First, I suggest you take your commitment and Speak It Out LOUD!  Like many dreams, if we don’t speak it – it has the potential to stay hidden.  It is important to start the dialogue with anyone who will listen.  Walk them through your vision, allow yourself to be vulnerable- and allow me to reassure you that at this point you will not have the all answers to the questions that get thrown your way.  This step will help you to refine your vision, to evaluate your scope and think through the obstacles.  Ultimately, have the confidence to move forward with your mission.

For me this was really hard. I was constantly conflicted with my corporate world and made to feel like if I pursued starting my own non-profit, I would be allowing my corporate career to suffer.  People will put all doubts and limitations in your mind- not because they want to hurt you – more because they want to protect you.  The truth is, many of us don’t live our fullest potential. Believe me, you keep going.  Ultimately you will find YOUR truth and there is nothing more validating and empowering than that moment.  Plus, the challenge that someone brings to your attention will allow you the time to figure out how you will overcome.

Second, you must build your TRIBE.  You will need a min-tribe to help you on this crusade.  It is critical to go through your personal and professional network.   The idea of engaging with your professional network on something you are privately so passionate about may seem daunting.  However, the reality is that your vision of a 501c3 will not come to fruition if you limit it to your BFF’s.  You need your mini-tribe to consist of creative peeps, lawyer peeps, finance peeps, business peeps, and the outlandish peeps.  This step will help you as you determine whether you can pitch your vision to gain pro bono services (i.e legal resources to set up your paperwork, complete filings, and walk you through the necessary incorporations & board requirements).  There are so many components of starting a non-profit that you will need the diverse resources.  

This was one tip I wished someone had told me- because the impact has been profound.  Once I expanded my network, City Chik on a Mission was picked up by a major law firm as one of their pro bono cases for the year. The services they provided were invaluable and they continue to be a resource.  In addition, by expanding my network I made more and more connections that guided me (whether or not I realized at it at that moment).

Third and finally, be prepared for the BUMMERS.  People will have the best of intentions, want to help you, want to support you emotionally or financially, and want to serve with you. The reality is that you need to be confident and prepared that if they don’t pull through you have the perseverance to keep going. There will be countless times where opportunities will fall through, whether it’s people backing out of a financial commitment or people that don’t realize the amount of time it takes to get an organization up and running.

My advice on this front is to take notes. For each person you meet, detail who commits, what they are passionate about, and the ideas you have to get what you need from them to be a success.

I firmly believe that when we lead with love and have grace through the curveballs it all works out in the end.

In our next series we will dive deeper- campaign setting/fundraising/ launch plans/ showcasing your impact.  Written by a gal that found her own place in the world between her love of corporate america and her global humanitarian mission & movement