Starting a Nonprofit

Starting a Nonprofit

Learn how to turn your dreams of starting a nonprofit organization into a reality. This course will teach you practical information about incorporation, organization, and converting to tax-exempt status so you can begin running your own successful nonprofit.

6 Weeks Access / 24 Course Hrs
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Do you dream of starting and running your very own nonprofit? This highly interactive, hands-on course is ideal for anyone who is interested in forming a new nonprofit, converting an informal group to tax-exempt status, or reorganizing an existing organization. It provides practical how-to information about incorporation, organization, and other issues pertinent to anyone involved with a nonprofit start-up.

No matter what level of experience you have, you're sure to find this unique course to be a valuable source of useful strategies and industry-specific advice that you can put to immediate use. The course is also supplemented with useful checklists, worksheets, reading lists, and field trips to a wide variety of online resources. By the time you graduate, you will be well-prepared to meet the challenge of starting and operating a successful nonprofit.


Are you a person whose passion lies in creating an organization that helps in an emergency? Or, are you someone who longs to engage and encourage the human spirit? Wait! Maybe you're the one who wants to educate while shaping values and goals! Then again, maybe your special talent lies in promoting places, people, and things? Whatever brings you to creating your own nonprofit, this lesson is here to guide the way. You'll go over some basic nonprofit terminology, look at why you want to start a nonprofit, and finish by learning some ways to obtain your goals. In no time at all, you'll be able to speak exactly and professionally in the language of your peers. This is an important first step to your full understanding of the path you seek to follow.

What, exactly, is a mission statement and how do you get one? That is one very astute question, and the very one that will be discussed in this lesson. You'll discover what a mission statement is, how you can create one, and how you get your members to buy in.

The purpose of this lesson is to help you understand how to set up a nonprofit board of directors. Boards aren't perfect, and group dynamics can be tough. The world isn't perfect, so you aren't going to get perfect results. For those reasons, it's important for you to understand the importance of the work that a board is called to do and the role you'll play in helping those board members be greater than they thought they could possibly be. By the end of this lesson, you'll understand how to maximize your efforts into something meaningful and productive.

The governing documents of a nonprofit are its tools of control. Every nonprofit must use two main documents: Articles of Incorporation and bylaws. These documents set the ground rules by which your members and the board of directors must operate. If your organization is ever taken to court for IRS violations, these are the standards that the courts will judge you on. In this lesson, you'll create your very own bylaws and articles.

A variety of legal matters apply to getting your nonprofit started. In this lesson, you'll look at filing reports and securing licenses, and delve into a few final tax issues. Some of these concerns are governed by federal law; others by state law. You'll also learn how to operate your first board meeting so you can ratify your new bylaws.

The purpose of this lesson is to help you organize for success. Organizational planning requires effort, but there's no cause for concern. In this lesson, you'll find out how to research, brainstorm, discuss goals and objectives, and tactically prepare your organization to reach its goals. The lesson will cover planning in all its glorious forms, from operating plans to strategic plans.

The smooth functioning of a nonprofit is due to the dedicated work of both employees and volunteers. In this lesson, you'll look at both paid and unpaid staff. To be effective, you must become adept at recruiting and motivating your volunteers and employees. This lesson will provide you with the strategies that you'll need to succeed.

Nonprofits are expected to spend carefully, honoring the trust others have placed in them. As a result, you need to be especially brilliant when it comes to budgeting and living within your means. Developing budgets that work is a critical part of your upcoming responsibility, and you'll explore exactly how to do that in this lesson.

Writing grant proposals, soliciting contributions, and organizing special events are just a few of the fundraising options new nonprofits need to investigate. In this lesson, you'll explore why you need a fundraising strategy, how to get one, and why the board of directors, the executive director, members, and volunteers all have a place in the fundraising program.

This lesson is a popular one! It covers the concepts of nonprofit marketing and media relations. You'll understand the basics of community outreach and discover a variety of highly effective techniques you can use to promote your nonprofit.

The Internet is the single most popular and cost-effective communication tool available to nonprofits. Its influence is so great that your nonprofit will never reach its maximum potential until you incorporate it into your strategy plan. This lesson will help you understand how you can use the Internet to reach out and tell the world who you are and what you do.

This fast-paced and important lesson will help you understand the rules governing advocacy. Nonprofits engage in advocacy whenever they work to change public policy. Activities such as lobbying, protesting, or participating in partisan political activities are clearly advocacy efforts, but you could also be accused of engaging in advocacy if you attempt to organize people in your community, work with the media, or educate voters, among other things. Not all nonprofits can participate in these types of activities. Some face legal restrictions on the kind or amount of advocacy that they can do. This lesson will help you understand what you can and, perhaps more importantly, what you cannot do.



There are no prerequisites to take this course.


Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC, Mac, or Chromebook.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.


  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.


Brad Semp

Brad Semp, Ph.D., is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at a global corporation, a life-long entrepreneur, and a former professor of Bachelors and Masters of Science courses in Internet Marketing. Dr. Brad is active on social media platforms to engage with prospects and customers, expand relationships, and to grow businesses. He routinely coaches other entrepreneurs and business owners and consults with Fortune 500 organizations on how to design and implement effective social media systems, strategies, and tactics.

Instructor Interaction: The instructor looks forward to interacting with learners in the online moderated discussion area to share their expertise and answer any questions you may have on the course content.


I took this class to investigate the possibility of a nonprofit. This class has helped clear the cobwebs and direct my thoughts. I feel I now have a much better understanding and am ready to move forward with transferring my dream into reality. This class has been an excellent resource. Thank you.

This class has been very informative. Before I enrolled in this class, I had absolutely no idea what a nonprofit was and how to start one (really!). I now have written my articles of incorporation and bylaws, and have begun my search for board members using the criteria that you provided. Thanks a bunch!

This class has given me the instruction and resources necessary to get started and thanks to your responses and direction to my assignments, that extra boost of confidence I'm sure I needed. I no longer "think" I can...I "know" I can. I'm looking forward to the next course. Thank you!

This course really helped me as I was recently hired as media coordinator for an agency that helps low income disabled receive free medical equipment such as power chairs, wheelchair and walkers. I attended my first strategic planning meeting and this course guided me through each step. Thanks for such a well written course.

This class was beyond what I could ever have imagined. I learned more in these last six weeks then any one semester in college. I can use what I learned immediately or if I wait a few years, this information will still be useful. Instructor was helpful, friendly and very knowledgable. I would definitley recommend the instructor and the class. I learned a lot! Thank you!

I thoroughly enjoyed this course. This was my third and final class to complete my certification with this instructor. I felt she made it fun and something I looked forward to. This was my first time trying online courses and I thought going into it that it would be boring, but this one certainly was not. I learned so much and feel like I can talk the lingo now!

I have not taken a course in over three decades. I find that the style and format of this course is excellent. The instructor was insightful and gave me alternatives to think about.

Excellent class! Thanks for helping to me stretch my imagination and preparing us for this new adventure into starting a nonprofit.

The course was great and the instructor taught me more than I could ever had imagined.

Great class! I would have missed so many steps had I not taken this class. I feel more prepared and my nonprofit has a much better chance at making a difference. I will definitely take another course.

Instructor-Moderated Course Code: cyn