How to Start a Non-Profit Chapter

Community-InvolvementChances are, you already care about giving back to causes you believe in. That’s why you are here. Between monetary and material donations as well as volunteer time, there are plenty of ways to make a lasting impact on the lives of families in need. But what if you want to go a step further? In this article, we’ll outline the basic steps to starting a chapter of a nonprofit organization.

While starting an entirely new charity can be highly challenging and labor-intensive, starting a chapter of a pre-existing nonprofit is a simpler alternative. With the groundwork of founding an organization already out of the way, you will still have plenty of work to do - but you will also be that much closer to getting down to the real work you have set out to do: making a difference.

Do Some Serious Soul-Searching

Is starting a chapter of a national nonprofit organization ideal for you? Take stock of your lifestyle, values, skills, personality, work and family obligations, and overall availability.

Here are ten general questions to ask yourself and get the ball rolling. It may also help to ask a trusted colleague or loved one to chime in with their thoughts on these questions, too.

  1. Do I consider myself a natural leader, spokesperson, marketer, seller, or cheerleader?
  2. Am I willing to put my skills to use, learn new skills, and wear many hats at once?
  3. Do I excel at networking with others, or do I already have an existing team of like-minded folks willing to jump in and help as board members, volunteers, and supporters?
  4. Am I ready to talk up my chapter and raise funds at every opportunity that arises?
  5. Am I willing to use social media and other communication tactics to help spread the word?
  6. Am I willing and able to organize, team lead, event plan, project-manager, and fundraise?
  7. Am I resilient and able to ride out difficult situations with hope and determination?
  8. Am I willing to get my hands dirty and jump in when volunteer needs arise?
  9. Am I truly passionate about the mission of the nonprofit?
  10. Do I have spare time outside of work and family to devote up to several hours a week?

Initial Requirements of Starting a Nonprofit Chapter

So, you have done your soul searching and you know that you are ready to commit to running a chapter of a national nonprofit organization. Great! Now the real work begins.

A well-established national nonprofit like Sleep in Heavenly Peace will have clear expectations and guidelines already in place for you. We welcome you to reach out and contact us to explore running your own chapter in your region! From there, we will get in touch with you with the next steps and answer any questions you may have about the process.

In general, there are several considerations to keep in mind with any nonprofit chapter. You’ll need to come to a firm and clear agreement on these types of issues before becoming official.

  • What are the legal requirements?
  • How will your regional chapter incorporate with the parent organization?
  • What sort of training and assistance will you need - and what will you receive?
  • What are you allowed and not allowed to do as a chapter of this nonprofit?
  • What marketing materials, trademarks, tools, and other resources will the nonprofit provide you for running your chapter?
  • What is the scope of your geographic region?
  • What sort of requirements does the nonprofit have for reporting and recording efforts and activities including but not limited to events, fundraisers, or meetings?
  • Will you owe the organization anything in terms of fees or dues? If so, how much?

If you choose to begin a regional chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, we will do our very best to ensure that we are all on the same page before signing a final agreement. Good communication is key to having strong relationships with our peers throughout the United States!

Next Steps for Your New Nonprofit Chapter

Once you have initiated becoming an official chapter of a nonprofit and signed an agreement, the organization will file for your tax exemption status under the group exemption rule. Since we are already filed as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization with the IRS, this step is pretty quick. You will then need to create a new EIN (employer identification number) with the IRS which identifies your tax account as a regional chapter of the nonprofit. You can submit your new chapter’s EIN online. This step allows you to hire and pay employees, if needed, as well as open a business bank account and fulfill other legal and financial responsibilities on behalf of the nonprofit.

There are several other steps you should take to ensure a successful nonprofit chapter start-up. The details may vary based on your chapter’s organizational needs, but most of these steps will apply to some degree or another for most nonprofit regional chapters.

Establish an office.

Whether it's your own spare bedroom, a church basement, or rented space downtown, you will need a focused area with office supplies, wifi, and other utilities needed to conduct business on behalf of your new nonprofit chapter.

Recruit and build up your board.

No matter how much energy and enthusiasm you may have, you will need a team of dedicated board members to help enact the nonprofit’s mission and vision. If you start a chapter with Sleep in Heavenly Peace, we may already have candidates to suggest to you as you build up your board. You may also wish to post listings on websites or social media. Tap into your community organizations, faith groups, and chamber of commerce for more highly qualified candidates.

Define roles and responsibilities.

For board members, volunteers, and employees, if applicable. Fundraisers. Donor relations managers. Event coordinators. Marketing and communications. Finance and operations. That is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the support you will need to keep your regional chapter thriving.

Establish your presence.

Creating a website that introduces your chapter and links up with the parent organization’s main website is one good option. A free and convenient option (not just an option in our opinion, but a must-do) is to set up social media pages. Building up an online community that spreads awareness about the causes of your regional chapter is an important step to attracting and retaining donors, volunteers, and other supporters.

Host events.

Whether virtual or public, get to know your new community! Give them a chance to get to know you, the nonprofit mission and values, and how they can contribute to building a better reality for families in need. People's power is everything in the nonprofit world.

Ready to Run a Regional Chapter?

Now that you know the details behind setting up a regional chapter of a national nonprofit, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Running a nonprofit chapter takes commitment, perseverance, and passion. Even considering it an option opens new doors of possibility for our communities. If you are ready to begin exploring that commitment further, we encourage you to get more involved - and get in touch with us!