You’re excited to set up your own nonprofit organization centered on a cause that is near and dear to your heart in San Diego. In your mind’s eye, you see many people benefiting from your organization’s services, and you can already sense the warm, fuzzy feeling that will well up inside of you once that happens.
Not so fast, though.
Yes, starting a nonprofit can certainly make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. No wonder there are about 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the United States. However, creating a nonprofit also involves a lot of not-so-warm-and-fuzzy responsibilities that are critical to its success long term. In fact, you may come to realize that starting a nonprofit requires a lot more work than you think.
Why? Because nonprofits often follow the same types of best practices that their for-profit counterparts do. Adhering to best practices ensures that they are being operated based on their communicated purposes. In addition, they must follow certain guidelines to remain tax-exempt. If they do this, they can expect to accomplish their goals in the short term, enjoy sustainability long term, and maintain their stakeholders’ and donors’ trust.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important best practices for nonprofits in San Diego.
The Development of Your Board
One of the most critical activities for starting your nonprofit is to develop your board. That’s because the directors on your board will be responsible for ensuring that your organization remains fiscally stable and maintains the positive outlook needed to fulfill the organization’s cause in the San Diego community.
As you welcome people onto your board, be sure to provide opportunities for them to take part in networking opportunities, workshops, and conferences. This will help them to increase their understanding of what board service means for them.
Another way you can comply with board development practices? “Link directors on your board with staff at your organization for mentoring purposes,” says Brian Davis of CharityNet.
The relationship between the two parties is mutually beneficial. Staff can learn about the board’s inner workings and how board members arrive at decisions during strategic planning. And this can make their commitment to the organization stronger as a result. Also, board members benefit because they can get a good glimpse at the activities in the organization and feel more connected with its employees.”
Understanding Legal Responsibilities
Another critical best practice for nonprofits in San Diego is to develop written job descriptions outlining your board directors’ responsibilities, expectations, and duties—including their legal responsibilities.
As an example, board members are responsible for delegating functions to volunteers and managers, offering guidance, and establishing policies. They are also responsible for how well your organization oversees its activities, programs, and monetary well-being. “It’s imperative that your board of directors are well-informed of their legal duties and fiduciary responsibilities to avoid getting into trouble with the law and with their bottom line,” contributes Dawn Delia of Delia Law, continuing with, “Having legal counsel available for your board of directors helps ensure any complex nonprofit tax issues are solved swiftly and accurately.”
Succession Planning at Your Organization
Keep in mind that a nonprofit board typically has term limits. This can be immensely helpful for your organization’s board, as it continually brings new perspectives and skills for the board.
Best practices when it comes to recruiting people to your nonprofit board include giving your board directors a sense of independence, having active board directors, and creating a board that has the abilities and skills to get each task done correctly. All board members should be able to work together according to your organization’s values, mission, and vision to get the job done. In addition, try to make sure that a minimum of one board member isn’t a beneficiary or a donor for your nonprofit.
The Celebrity Factor
Are you considering adding a celebrity to your organization’s board? Smart thinking. Research shows that when celebrities, such as musicians, newscasters, athletes, and movie actors, are linked to philanthropic causes, this helps to boost monetary support from members of the public. Part of the reason for this is that members of the public often see a nonprofit organization as credible if a celebrity supports it.
Still, it’s generally not a wise idea to recruit numerous notable people to your board simply because they can easily draw attention to your organization. As mentioned earlier, it’s critical that your board has directors with a comprehensive set of skills. Only then can your board be effective. For this reason, recruiting just one or a couple of famous people to your board may be in order.
The Fundraising Factor
A lot of the work that your nonprofit board of directors will do will pertains to fundraising. Therefore, you should make sure that at least one person on your board has a financial background. This person should be able to lead fundraising, investing, auditing, and budgeting efforts. Prior to accepting nominees for your board, make sure that they understand what being a fiduciary means and agree to avoid using their directorship on the nonprofit board for their own personal gain.
>Yet another noteworthy best practice for nonprofit board members in San Diego is to understand the importance of making wise rather than negligent decisions.
All board directors should understand the liability for their decisions and actions. They should also agree to avoid conflicts of interest and to engage in careful and prudent decision-making time and time again.
Run a Thriving Nonprofit Organization in San Diego!
Starting a nonprofit organization in California can understandably be both exciting and intimidating. You look forward to providing a ministry or service to a population you’re passionate about, and in your mind, failure is not an option.
Fortunately, an understanding of the best practices for nonprofits in San Diego can help you to start up and build up your dream nonprofit organization. In addition, adhering to these practices can help you to maintain compliance in your organization.
Follow the abovementioned best practices to make sure that your nonprofit organization not only survives but thrives in the months and years ahead.