How to Start A Nonprofit Focused on Sustainability


Photo by Benjamin Atchley

As we look deeper into the future, the prospect of sustainability is becoming a more valuable ideal with each passing day. It’s no surprise then that an increasing number of people are beginning to put time and energy into creating a more sustainable world in which humans act in ways that help the planet rather than hurt it. 

If you find that you’re one of the many people that’s taken an interest in the idea of creating a more sustainable world, then you may have toyed with the idea of creating a nonprofit focused on sustainability or sustainable tourism. 

Having some clarity about how nonprofit organizations function — and the profoundly positive impact that they can have on the world — can make the process of creating one seem easier and more accessible. 

What Is a Nonprofit?

Before starting your own sustainability-focused nonprofit, it’s first important to understand what a nonprofit is and how it works. Put simply, a nonprofit is an organization that is exempt from taxes and does not operate in a capacity that aims to generate profits. 

Rather, nonprofits typically center around a specific cause, and proceeds generated by a nonprofit will typically help to fund its efforts to aid in this said cause. 

Though many use the terms charity and nonprofit interchangeably, this is actually incorrect. Whereas nonprofits may utilize the funds that they raise in any way that they see fit — as long as it’s not taken as profits — charities must donate the entirety of any sums raised to charitable purposes. So, while all charities fall into the category of nonprofits, not all nonprofit organizations are necessarily charities. 

How to Create a Nonprofit Focused on Sustainability

As someone who cares deeply about the planet and sustainability, it makes sense that you’ll want to put your time and energy into creating an initiative such as a nonprofit. Though this can be exciting, it can also be difficult to know where to start and what aspects of the organization to focus on. 

Thankfully, once you’re familiar with some key concepts, the process will begin to seem far more accessible and doable. 

Find Legal Help

Though you may feel excited and ready to rush into creating a more sustainable world through your nonprofit, your organization won’t be able to get very far without first meeting several legal requirements. As such, it’s important to find the help of a legal professional who can help walk you through the process. 

If possible, it can be extremely useful to find legal professionals who have experience helping nonprofits. This is because there are several specific laws and legal requirements that pertain to nonprofit organizations and having someone deeply familiar with them can help make the process of getting your sustainability-focused nonprofit up and running quicker and more efficient. 

There are many documents you’ll file to create a nonprofit organization ranging from tax-exempt status to crafting bylaws. This can be overwhelming if you attempt to do this on your own without any prior knowledge of the field. As such, legal professionals can help streamline the process and help bring your vision to life quicker. 

Creating Brand Engagement

Though you’re likely starting your nonprofit for the purpose of creating a better planet — and maybe aren’t the biggest fan of many corporations — there are some lessons that it’s important to take from successful businesses. The most important of these lessons is an understanding of the power of brand engagement and the ability to utilize it in effective ways. 

Put simply, brand engagement is an organization’s connection with its customers, and includes the ways in which an organization maintains and nurtures these connections. In order for your nonprofit to function in the most effective way possible, you’ll need your audience to get involved and engage with your brand in meaningful ways. 

Ultimately, you would like to see supporters of your nonprofit go from being one-time donors to lifelong brand advocates. And to do this, you can take advantage of a number of communication and marketing channels such as social media, email, and actual interactions. 

The more that people feel compelled to share your nonprofit with others, the more power your sustainability-focused nonprofit will have to enact real change that makes a positive impact on the world. 

Define Your Nonprofit’s Identity and Clarify Your Mission

Though you may have a thorough understanding of what your nonprofit stands for and the mission it aims to accomplish, your audience won’t unless you clearly communicate it to them. As such, defining the unique identity of your sustainability-focused nonprofit and the exact mission that it aims to accomplish is vital to creating a successful organization. 

By creating a distinct identity for your nonprofit, you are distinguishing yourself from other organizations. It’s your duty to communicate to audiences who it is that they are donating to, and in addition, give them reasons why they should. Creating a distinct identity can help you set yourself apart from other organizations and become a nonprofit that captures the hearts and minds of the public at large. 

When creating a sustainability-focused nonprofit, it’s obvious that your nonprofit is focused on creating a more sustainable world. However, clarifying and communicating a specific mission statement can help bring your nonprofit to life and generate attention. By communicating to audiences exactly what your nonprofit aims to accomplish, they’ll feel a deeper connection to your cause. As such, you need to be specific and give audiences a clear understanding of the cause they’re donating to and the change it aims to accomplish. 

Make Your Impact on the World

Though it can be a tricky process to get started, bringing your sustainability-focused nonprofit to life can make a lasting and positive impact on the world. Rather than letting the paperwork stress you out, focus on the good that your nonprofit can do. By taking the first step and getting the ball rolling, you’re already making a profound change — and likely inspiring others to do the same. So go out and make your impact on the world today so that everyone can enjoy a more sustainable tomorrow. 

Sea Going Green is a sustainable tourism consultancy working alongside international experts, non-profits, inter-governmental organizations, development banks and more to create a sustainable impact on the tourism industry.

Interested in a potential project collaboration? Let’s schedule a call.

 If you find that you’re one of the many people that’s taken an interest in
the idea of creating a more sustainable world, then you may have toyed with
the idea of creating a nonprofit focused on sustainability or sustainable
tourism. This article will give you some tips to help you begin.Read MoreEducation, PartnersBlog – Sea Going Green


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