So you want to start a nonprofit?

Founding and operating a nonprofit organization is not simple work, and should only be considered by those who are truly passionate about a cause.  Simply having the passion may not always be enough, as starting a nonprofit is a complicated series of steps that requires the buy-in of the communities you’re serving, other motivated individuals who add value to your mission, and funders that make it possible to take action.  

If you are motivated to explore the issue, feel free to reach out to Dwight Hall at Yale leadership for a conversation.

Helpful Resources

Before reaching out to us, it may be helpful to educate yourself as much as possible in the process and resources.  Below are two examples of helpful resources we commonly refer to:

Key Steps in Starting:1

  1. Discover your purpose for incorporating through adequate research and collaboration with others
  2. Draft a mission statement that defines your purpose
  3. Secure startup finances to allow you to obtain professional assistance (legal, accounting)
  4. Gather a group of individuals committed to your cause to function as your Board of Directors
  5. Get legal help in drafting a Certificate of Incorporation
  6. Draft corporate bylaws to organize how decisions are made
  7. Hold an organization meeting to officially adopt

1Adapted from CT Nonprofits’ “What are the key steps in forming a nonprofit?”

About the Author

Lydia Burleson

Lydia Burleson served as the Communications and Alumni Engagement Associate for Dwight Hall at Yale, Center for Public Service and Social Justice from June 2021-June 2022. A first-generation low-income student from rural Texas, Lydia graduated from Yale cum laude in 2021 with a degree in English and a nonfiction creative writing concentration. During her college years, Lydia increased awareness of marginalized voices with the public writing she did for The Yale Daily News and the Yale Admissions office. Her Dwight Hall experiences included free college advising with student-led member groups REACH and Matriculate. Dwight Hall empowered Lydia to uplift other disadvantaged students and to increase access to education for people who might not have otherwise received these resources. She is currently completing an English PhD at Stanford University with a Knight-Hennessy Fellowship.