Can Anyone Start a Non-Profit Organization?

A person signing a contract

The short answer to the titular question is yes, anyone can start a non-profit, at least in theory. In practice, starting a non-profit is an involved and complicated process that requires effort and commitment.

Part of the process involves securing funds, which is easier if you have capital in the bank. However, even without money, if the cause resonates with people, there are other ways to fund your non-profit. Besides funding, you also need to feel strongly enough about the cause and have enough time to commit to it. Here’s a more involved discussion of what goes into starting a non-profit and how anyone can do it.


Setting up a non-profit will, at minimum, require you to meet some costs that are somewhat constant across the country. These are incorporation, tax-exemption status, and registration fees. While these are the bare minimum, setting up a non-profit is extremely difficult without some further services, such as help with the 501(c)(3) application. These services aren’t necessary in theory, but they are in practice.

There are generally two ways to meet these costs. Firstly, you can pay them off with your personal capital. Secondly, you can raise funds to meet these costs. The second method is particularly useful for people who don’t have much money but do have the desire to help.  

Commitment and Preparation

Another condition for setting up a non-profit is feeling strongly about your cause. Your passion can come from many different sources, but what matters is that you are passionate about the non-profit’s goals. Before moving forward, you should put your passion down on paper and define your organization’s values and goals. Not only will this clarify to yourself and others what your non-profit is for, but it will also attract volunteers and funders.

A person feeding a pigeon

Other than clarifying your values, you should also develop a budget. This will ensure that your non-profit remains focused and on its established path. It’ll also build confidence in people, who will be more willing to volunteer for and fund your non-profit.

If you’re prepared and committed, you’re ready to start a non-profit organization. However, while meeting the prerequisites for setting up a non-profit is necessary, the process itself is another burden. Get in touch with us at A2Z Filings, and we can help you through the 501(c)(3) application process and set up your non-profit.

How Non-Profits Help Their Communities

Parents and their children doing volunteer work at a charity

Even though non-profits operate a lot like for-profits, many people typically view them as diametrically opposed. For-profits are the largest economic agents in an economy. In contrast, non-profits aren’t as significant and mainly improve their communities and help the disenfranchised.

That view is incorrect because non-profits occupy a sizeable amount of the American economy. There are about 1.6 million non-profits in the country, employing about 10% of the American workforce. That makes them the third-largest employer in the country. However, the view is correct about non-profits bettering their communities. Here are some of the ways they do that.

Essential Services

Many essential service providers, such as hospitals and schools, are non-profits. Listing down the industries is a cumbrous task, but consider hospitals and schools. The former address life-threatening injuries, debilitating conditions, parturition, and much more. In fact, you may have been born in a non-profit hospital. The latter is indispensable to a child’s emotional, intellectual, character, and physical development.

Non-profits provide many of these essential services and at affordable rates. As a result, they grant access to these resources to people who typically can’t afford them. On top of that, education helps children develop their civic sense, which leads them to give back to their communities.


Non-profits also provide employment to their communities, thereby functioning as a means of living for many people. Additionally, if they’re located in minority or discriminated communities, they engage in affirmative action by providing employments to those groups. Lastly, employment improves the living conditions of these communities by stimulating their local economies through the multiplier effect.

A rock with “Hope” written on it next to a rock with “Charity” written on it

Community Relationships

Education helps people develop their civic sense, but schools do more than educate students; they’re also social spaces where people form friendships. All non-profits, insofar as people work in, volunteer to work, or attend them, develop these community relationships. Social science research organizations, for instance, typically work with communities to understand their research’s subject. Other non-profits employ people from their communities or render services to them, which fosters relationships between people.

As a result, non-profits extend economic and social benefits to their communities by improving their living conditions and developing relationships. Non-profits also give their communities a voice in government discussions. Since they’re intimately acquainted with their communities, they help guide governments in improving them too.

If you need help setting up a non-profit, writing business plans, or applying for a grant, get in touch with us at A2Z Filings. We can guide you through the 501(c)(3) application process and set up your non-profit.