As an activist, one of the most common topics I get asked about is “How do I get started?” or, “Where do we even begin to get the support we would need”? My advice? Launch a grassroots or nonprofit organization and make an impact in this world.
Being the founder and president of a non-profit organization is extremely tough. When we first started five years ago, we were a small grassroots team focusing on community development and social justice issues. While the work we accomplished was monumental, I knew that we had to step it up another notch. On June 16, 2017 my team officially launched our organization, Community Healing Project Inc., as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit.
In the beginning, we didn’t have sponsors, funders or monetary support. We used every resource we had to accomplish our goals. Today, because of our consistent and constant outreach efforts and community service, we have attained an incredible group of partners and supporters who allow us to continue our mission and goals. You are nothing without your supporters, so remember to accurately thank them and show your gratitude continuously.
Before you launch your organization, you must have a goal. What’s your purpose for starting this group? What problem in the world do you want to see eradicated?
Specifically, Community Healing Project, Inc., focuses on promoting cultural awareness, educational advancement, leadership development and economic empowerment in urban and impoverished communities. We achieve this by youth mentoring, social activism and community outreach. Our ultimate goal is to help nourish and develop the next generation of self-sufficient adults who will become leaders in their own rights. As a nonprofit organization, you must carve out an identity of your own and stick to your core goals.
Build a team
The second most important aspect is to build an unbreakable team. Assuming you’re the president, your officers have to be individuals who you trust and can ultimately get the job done. Your team is your lifeline. They are your first line of defense as well as the heart of your organization. Don’t go with your friends or family. Take the time and scout for an amazing staff. This will determine how every other aspect flows.
The less you know personally about a coworker the better. When we hire and do business with friends, we sometime let down our guard and standards and allow certain situations to happen that normally wouldn’t go down. With an incredible team, there is nothing your organization can’t accomplish.
Finally, always make sure you’re enjoying whatever it is you’re doing. As the leader of an organization, you are the head, so every decision and consequence falls on you. Your daily decisions affect your staff and team. Ultimately, you can help shape a community’s development and can even influence a bill or law being passed. We have a huge responsibility to be moral citizens and to positively influence the children and families of the communities we serve.
Remember administrative work
Put the same amount of energy into your administration and business side as you do for outreach and socializing. File your end-of-the-year reports and stay on top of your monthly budgets and financial records. Keep track of gas mileage and expenses for business-related tasks. While it may seem like a lot of pressure, it’s a privilege and honor to lead a nationally-recognized organization.
Every day we have the incredible task of creating enrichment programs and initiatives to improve some of the most vulnerable areas in America. Seeing the reaction, smiles and “thank you” letters after our events and programs are the real payment you receive for your amazing work.
If you’ve been thinking of starting an organization or a grassroots group, please don’t hesitate. Focus on a specific goal, build an impenetrable team and have fun doing the work. We need more nonprofits to help change the world, one community at a time.
Rell Black is an award-winning activist, blogger and the founder of Community Healing Project Inc.