Starting a Nonprofit or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
(or starting a foundation, a charity, a community-based organization, etc.)
The laws and procedures for starting a nonprofit organization, a non-governmental organization (NGO), a charity or a foundation vary from country to country. The laws and procedures are never exactly the same.
Later on this page is a list of web sites for various countries regarding how to start a nonprofit organization, NGO, etc.
If your country is not listed
- Search the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. Search just by the country name. For instance, type in Kenya, and you will get a list of documents produced by the center or submitted to the center's knowledge base. Read through the documents and you should be able to find the name of the federal office that regulates nonprofit organizations in that specific country.
- Go to Google and type in your country's name and the phrase starting an NGO
- Go to your city government offices and ask for the paperwork for starting an NGO in your country.
No matter what country you want to register in, before you file any paperwork, you first need a business plan, in writing:
After you have written this business plan, you recruit a board of directors -- people over 18 who are willing to be fiscally and legally responsible for your organization, willing to provide some of the start up costs (even a token amount), and willing to put their reputations on the line to say this organization should exist. Then you file your official paperwork with the correct government body. Also, open a bank account in the name of your nonprofit business.
- What services will this organization provide?
- What statistics and testimonials do you have that prove this organization is needed?
- Will the organization charge for these services? If so, how much?
- What will these services achieve? How will you prove those achievements?
- How much will providing these services costs -- rental space, computer, registration as a nonprofit with the federal and state, paying staff or consultants, equipment, etc.?
- How will the organization account for donations, income earned and expenses?
- What will be done to protect your clients, volunteers, staff members and others from exploitation of any kind?
- What will you do to ensure your organization is free from corruption and mismanagement, beyond just promises and assurances?
England and Wales
- Basic Fund-Raising for Small NGOs serving the developing world
This free document offered via the Coyote Communications web site provides very basic guidelines for small NGOs in the developing world regarding fund-raising, and points to other online resources. By small NGOs, I mean organizations that may have only one paid staff member, or are run entirely by volunteers; and may not have official recognition by the government.
- Vetting Organizations in Other Countries
A resource that can help you evaluate volunteer-placement organizations that charge you for your placement as a volunteer, as well as for people interested in partnering or supporting an organization abroad but wanting to know it's a credible organization, that it's not some sort of scam, or an 'organization' of just one person.
- Hosting International Volunteers
More and more local organizations in developing countries are turning to local expertise, rather than international volunteers, to support their efforts. However, the need for international volunteers remains, and will for many, many years to come. This resource provides tips for local organization in a developing countries interested in gaining to international volunteers.
- Questions to Ask for a Major Report from the Developing World
Most people who write reports about their projects in the developing world rely heavily on field staff to provide information. Often, however, field staff aren't expert report writers, and struggle to provide meaningful, timely information in a coherent written form. Many report writers get around this by interviewing field staff about their work, so that needed information is provided through answers to questions. This method can also build the capacity of field staff to provide written information themselves. This is a list of questions I used to interview staff at an initiative in Afghanistan that was focused on rural projects. I based these questions on previous monthly and quarterly reports, suggestions from donors, the initiatives stated objectives, and my own need for information that could lead to stories in which the press might be interested.
- Building Staff Capacities to Communicate and to Present
Marketing and public relations is never just one person's responsibility at an organization, regardless of everyone's job titles; everyone at an organization will interact with other staff, partner organizations, potential supporters and the general public at some point. Therefore, everyone needs to be able to talk or to write clearly about his or her own work and that of the organization overall. This new resource describes various activities I undertook to improve the communication capacities of Afghan government staff. This resource links to various slide presentations and materials used for this endeavor in Afghanistan that can be adapted by others in different countries and situations. Included is a workshop on helping women in strict religious cultures to cultivate their presentation and public speaking skills, a workshop and tip sheet to help staff write better reports, and a slide presentation to help staff take photos in the field that will serve a variety of communications and reporting purposes.
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