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How to start an NGO?

Starting an NGO is a time-consuming process and requires a great deal of research, discussions, paperwork and expert advice. So before investing your time and energy into it, make sure that this is what you want to do. Devote time in meeting people who are engaged in NGO work and seek their help to understand all aspects of NGO management from them.

Starting an NGO requires dedication and devotion towards the cause, so unless you are prepared to give in your best, do not start an NGO.

Answer the following questions before put your efforts in starting an NGO:

1. Why do you want to start your NGO?

2. What activities will you undertake in your NGO?

3. Are there other NGOs doing similar activities in your area?

4. Are you willing to devote all your time and efforts to start the NGO?

5. Who are the people who will help you in the process?

Good to know that you are convinced about starting an NGO, and are confident that it would solve a social problem prevalent in your locality. Your enthusiasm and passion for social wellbeing are indeed commendable!

Your passion will undoubtedly be the driving force to help you in finding the right solutions, but the success of the venture will only come through proper planning and guidance from experts. The complications engaged in the process can be reduced considerably if you plan out the entire process with the utmost care. Several NGOs get registered every year; however, only a handful of them create visible impact, indicating that planning of remaining NGOs is flawed in one way or the other.

To ensure that your dream NGO does not fail in achieving the desired impact, this chapter provides easy steps that can be followed while starting your NGO.

Research is an essential ingredient for the success of any project, be it taking admission into a college or preparing for a job interview, you cannot get away with research. The same truth holds while establishing an NGO. Research may sound a little boring to you, but successful NGOs are backed by sufficient research data.

Following are a few areas that should be thoroughly researched while you plan to start your NGO.

The Problem: Understand the causes and the factors that are responsible for the problem. It is necessary for you to understand various aspects of the problem, before you find a practical solution for it. You can collect information about the problem either through secondary research (published literature, government reports, book etc.) or through primary research (interviews and survey of the target area, discussions with government officials etc.)

Practicality of the intervention: You might have several ideas to tackle the problem you have identified. But will these be effective? Do not just replicate an intervention in your project area, because it had worked elsewhere. You have to consider the socio-economic, ecological and cultural setup of the area before you finalize an intervention. This would require you to study various case studies and projects that have tackled a similar situation successfully.

Other Organizations: Search for organizations (NGOs, Government agencies, Research institutions, etc.) those are actively working in the location that you plan to work. Get an understanding of the causes that they are working for and how your organization could complement their work. Depending on the interactions with these organizations you can modify your solutions, so that your organization does not duplicate their activities. This exercise will significantly help in identifying gaps in current projects, which could be addressed through your organization.

Target Beneficiaries: It is essential to understand the communities that you plan to work for. Do not start your NGO based on assumptions, instead devote time to understand the community, their needs and their priorities.

Once you are through with research and have clarity on the subject, you should proceed to the next step, which is basically to find people to help you in setting up a formal organization (Board of Members).

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