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Why Start-up Nonprofits Fail – Thanks Oprah!

Why Start-up Nonprofits Fail – Thanks Oprah!

Why Start-up Nonprofits Fail – Thanks Oprah!

As a founder, I’ve invested countless amounts of time, money and supplies to Dream Big. When I learned I needed to track everything, I gave up on tallying my start-up contributions. Even though I kept track after we became incorporated, I didn’t know when to categorize expenses. I wasn’t sure when organizational needs should have been donated, paid for by a board member, or if I should’ve paid for it. I wasn’t clueless, but I was painfully learning the hard way.

One of the best tips I’ve gained was from The Oprah Show several years ago. In one of her shows (while she was still on the air), experienced nonprofit professionals advised the major flaw of why start-up nonprofits fail. Founders donating their own money.

To solely fund the organization will inhibit its growth. The nonprofit needs to find financial sustainability within the community it serves. Finding outside sources will give merit, legitimacy and provide sustainability.

So one may ask, “how much am I supposed to donate if I’m the founder?” The answer is as much as you need. However, that’s not the right question. The question you need to answer is “where” to get the funding, but not so fast.

Donors are no different than anyone that has worked hard for their money. They’re not going to JUST give you money. Give them a compelling reason why every penny, dime, or dollar is worth their investment to your cause.

Keep in mind some broad reasons why people give:

  1. Immediate Gratification – donors that want to feel good about their contribution. They usually give because the results are immediate.
  2. Believe – these donors believe because they support you, and want you to succeed. This is more about you, than your organization.
  3. Vision – this is a group of supporters that appreciate the organization, vision, and want to be involved.
  4. Cause – this would be a donor that understands the problem. Usually, this would be a finding solutions and a long-term supporter.

Your immediate goal should be to find supporters that believe in your vision. They will donate more than money. And trust me, you will need more than money to be successful.

I write this because my business is personal. My struggles are for your gain. No strings attached.

Nathan A. Webster, MBA


I was born, raised and currently residing in Vancouver, WA. Grateful to have an entrepreneurial life that allows me to use my God-given talents to help others pursue their passion. I'm blessed to be educated (MBA-Operations) veteran (US Marine Corps) who enjoys the community with all my family members (blood and adopted).