In the Footsteps of Mother Theresa: Starting a Successful Nonprofit

NGO volunteer

We should thank people who find it in themselves the courage to help others despite their own struggles in life. And we need not look far to find inspiration. The story of Mother Theresa, a saint who dedicated her life to the care of the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India, should be foremost in mind. After her ‘call within a call’ second calling where she had to leave her Loreto sisters convent to work with the destitute, the nun from Macedonia had to start with only the shirt on her back, basically nothing. But she plowed forward nevertheless. And the rest is history.

Fortunately for you, you need not be a nun or a religious to help the needy. Starting a non-profit organization can be a great way to extend help to society that needs help. The problem is, as lofty as the idea might be, it’s not an assurance that you’re going to do well. On the contrary, statistics show a harsh picture. Half of the nonprofits are doomed to fail, Forbes data show.

No doubt, a non-profit is instrumental in mobilizing your community to support a cause. In this regard, here are 3 basic questions you should look into before you set your non-profit forward. Know that being able to scrutinize your direction as best you can is paramount in drawing you closer to the success you cherish, as Mother Theresa did.

Does it fill a need?

This must be the biggest question of all. No doubt people are in a far worse place than before the virus hit town. That can only mean a lot of people are suffering today. Millions are grieving as thousands have lost their lives during the pandemic.

And yet, with all that suffering, a non-profit isn’t wishful thinking. As big as the work it faces, the organization must be as sturdy as can be. This means you need to be strategic about it. Wanting to help is one thing; making an organization that helps is another.

Bear in mind that your grants and donations are directly proportional to your numbers. So if you want to start a non-profit charitable institution for pregnant single moms, make sure you have a lot of these women in your area. If not, you might as well throw a stone in the wishing well.

Mother Theresa had the numbers when she started. The last look, Calcutta may be a city, but it has the lowest standard of living of all cities in the world. In short, its streets are teeming with indigents. So it did not take long before the wonder worker nun found support in the form of grants and donations in the ‘dying city.’

community volunteer concept

What sort of people would be willing to support or join you?

Now, here’s a kicker. Many people think people who work in a non-profit are all volunteers. That is not true. A non-profit can hire employees who get paid for their work. Additionally, if you start a non-profit, you should get a salary should you manage it. Of course, you can also choose not to.

Also, this means a non-profit will have to work with people who have a knack for helping others. It’s for this reason why having applicants take a motivation test is wise. It allows you and other organizers to see if the wannabe employee is the right fit for the job at hand.

The crux of the matter is gaining support is vital. It can spell the difference if your cause is going to die a natural death or prosper. Thus, it’s important that right from the get-go, you identify who your target demographics are. That way, finding supporters and workers would be a lot easier for you.

Mother Theresa’s work centered on the poorest of the poor. She defined her calling. Or we can also say her calling defined her. Apparently, a vision changed the direction of her life.

Is there competition?

Another hard truth you need to consider is to know if there are already people serving the same niche you want to tap. If you’re out for blind children, know what other organizations are helping the same target niche. Even if they’re not working within your community, getting in touch with them would be wise. You’d be able to get vital information to help you start things out.

You mustn’t delve into a niche already being served by other nonprofits in your area unless such a group is too big for any organization to serve. If you don’t know where to start, there’s a locator tool from the National Council of Nonprofits.

Starting a nonprofit is a noble idea. But making one last is the real challenge, in which case taking a page from Mother Theresa is wise.

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