The Last Virtual Volunteering
for purchase as a paperback & an ebook from Energize,
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
No matter what country you are in:
- The Global Development Research
Center, an independent nonprofit think tank that carries out
initiatives in education, research and practice, in the spheres of
environment, urban, community and information, and at scales that are
effective. Its NGO Management Toolbox includes a section on NGO
Accountability and on NGO
Credibility and Legitimacy.
- Have a look at this free NGO
Capacity Assessment Tool. It can be used to identify an
NGO’s or nonprofit's strengths and weaknesses and help to establish a
unified, coherent vision of what an NGO can be. The tool provides a
step-by-step way to map where an organization is and can help those
working with the NGO or nonprofit, including consultants, board members,
employees, volunteers, clients, and others, to decide which functional
areas need to be strengthened and how to go about to strengthen them.
The tool was compiled by Europe Foundation (EPF) in the country of
Georgia, and is based on various resources, including USAID – an NGO
Capacity Assessment Supporting Tool from USAID (2000), the NGO
Sustainability Index 2004-2008, the Civil Society Index (2009) from
CIVICUS, and Peace Corps/Slovakia NGO Characteristics Assessment for
Recommended Development (NGO CARD) 1996-1997.
- 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, and by the developing world, I mean
organizations in Africa, parts of Asia, parts of Central and South
America, and Eastern Europe. This document will not be helpful to
nonprofits serving communities in North America, Western Europe, etc.
- Vetting Organizations in Other
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
- 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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