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How to Start a Nonprofit in High School: Step-by-Step Instructions for Forming Your Own High School Nonprofit

High school is a time full of changes for a young person. It is the period where students not only take on more challenging coursework but also gradually learn how the adult world works. Thus, this period is the perfect time for young people to learn how to start a ground-up organization that will prepare them for adult life.

One of the best ways to prepare high school students for college and their future careers is to let them create a nonprofit startup for their school. By starting a nonprofit, teenagers develop valuable job skills, improve their ability to socialize, and gain more awareness of social issues. Such qualities also look great on resumes, which helps immensely during college admissions.  

That said, it can be challenging for teens to know the stepsinvolved in starting a nonprofit in high school, so we’ve outlined theimportant steps below.

Steps Involved:

  • Identify your goals
  • Identify the kind of high school nonprofit you will organize
  • Come up with a name for your organization
  • Appoint the board of directors
  • Create an action plan
  • Recruit more students, people, and volunteers

Identify your goals 

Start by establishing a goal for your nonprofit. This is a very important step, as it not only informs people of the purpose of their donations but also keeps volunteers aware of their group’s purpose. Set high standards for your group but make sure your goal isn’t so high that it seems unattainable.  

The goal of your club should be stated in a mission statement. This can be challenging if you’re not used to this type of business writing, so you may want to employ the help of a research paper writing service. Be sure to look over the reviews left for each service so you find a qualified writer skilled in writing mission statements and other content.

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Identify the kind of high school nonprofit you want to start

There are two main kinds of nonprofits you can create or join: an umbrella organization or a totally new nonprofit.

By joining an umbrella organization, you’ll be a local chapter within a pre-established larger organization and help spread its influence around the area. This means you’ll be supervised by the mother organization and required to follow their code of conduct. In return, the mother organization usually offers funding, resources, and support. 

You may also want to start a completely new nonprofit. This means your group will be free from pre-existing constraints. However, you’ll also lack exposure, requiring you to promote your group to people in your community in order to attract support and resources.

Come up with a name for your organization 

Coming up with the right name for your nonprofit is an important step, as business names help distinguish your group and communicate your goal. Just think of how well-known groups like Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, and the United Way are.

Try not to choose a long name as long names tend to be hard to remember. That said, if your name happens to have a really cool acronym (i.e. CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere)), it’s ok to use a long name since the acronym will shorten your name. Plus, it looks really cool!

You’ll also want to conduct some research to ensure the name you choose is compliant with both state and IRS naming requirements to avoid any potential legal trouble. Spend some time doing a few online searches to make sure other businesses aren’t using the name you want. Places to check include:

  • Google
  • IRS (nonprofit search)
  • State Secretary of State business search
  • Trademark database
  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube etc.)

Appoint the board of directors from school students and teachers 

A board of directors includes the people who decide how your group is run. For this reason, you should only appoint the most passionate and involved members in your high school to your board. Recruiting people with experience running businesses helps too. 

A good start is to find a like-minded teacher willing to help you with your cause. Teachers are more familiar with paperwork and legal documents, so they’ll be able to help you register your group, provide valuable feedback, and help with other work. 

At the same time, school students should also be appointed to your board to ensure their voices are heard in the decision-making process. School non-profit organizations are meant to benefit students, after all, and they need to take an active role.

If you’re starting a completely new group (and not joining a pre-existing umbrella group), your board will need to create some bylaws and internal operating documents. These will outline how your group operates, voting rights, decision-making procedures etc. Again, if you don’t have experience creating such documents, it’s always fine to secure the services of a professional attorney or legal advisor.

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Create an action plan

Your plan of action will outline how your nonprofit will start creating change in your community. To help your team come up with a good plan, start by asking yourself the following questions: 

  • Who are you going to help and why?
  • Do you plan on organizing events? If so, what kinds?
  • How will you reach more people? 
  • How will you convince people to volunteer for your organization?
  • How will you raise funding for your programs?

These questions should decide the focus of your meetings with the board of directors. Once you begin coming up with answers, it will be much easier to form a plan around your decisions. From there, you can begin assigning work responsibilities to volunteers to put your plan into motion.

Recruit more students, people, and volunteers

A nonprofit’s success is often determined by how much support it can attract from donors, volunteers, and the local community. This is why it’s so important to market your organization and reach out to new audiences. With the right support, a successful nonprofit or charity can benefit the community for years.

Build a website that communicates your group’s mission to an online audience and invites them to volunteer. This website should not only educate visitors about the social issues you’re focusing on but also inform people of your upcoming events (like fundraisers) and provide ways for them to donate money online.  

Use social media channels that have high usage among your peers to promote your cause and invite others to join. Encourage them to be part of an email mailing list so you can keep them informed through email newsletters. It’s also a good idea to ask your school for permission to organize a fundraising event that will increase exposure for your group.

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Starting non-profit organizations

Starting a nonprofit while completing secondary education is a lot of work, but getting students to practice real-world management skills offers lessons that cannot be taught through books or in classrooms.

Learning how to be responsible for a community organization helps develops the time-management and social skills students need to succeed in college and beyond. Plus, students will see how their efforts assist in driving change for their local community.

Once you start non-profits, you'll need an easy way to raise funds for your cause and coordinate your activities. PayBee provides an online platform that lets you host successful fundraisers and communicate with your staff and volunteers. We also provide effective ways to promote events via social media and even offer ideas for fundraising activities in schools that can be used by a middle school, high school, or even college on our blog.

But don’t take our word for it. Sign up for a free demo of our platform and see how our online tools can be used in planning and fundraising activities. By participating in our demonstration, you’ll experience first-hand how intuitive our platform is, not only for your committees but also your guests.

We also provide opportunities for you to ask any technical questions about our software to our team of experts, revealing how PayBee can help your PTA or PTO achieve its goals. Signup for a free demo today and take the first step toward building a winning partnership!


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Nicole D. Garrison

Nicole D.Garrison is a content strategist, writer, and contributor at TrustMyPaper and a number of platforms for marketing specialists. She is a dedicated and experienced author who pays particular attention to quality research. At her free time, Nicole is a passionate runner and a curious beekeeper. Moreover, she runs her own blog LiveInspiredMagazine. How to Convince Management to Implement Content Marketing

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