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    Starting a free community center for moms and babies--HELP!

    I am in over my head. I am doing this project alone (well, my two adult sons are working very hard for me on the building, which my best friend generously donated the use of to me, so I do have people on my team) and a lot of people are getting excited about it, but so far I've had a few donations of 400 sq ftcarpet tiles!!!! for the building and kids toys and a baby swing. I'm going to need to pay electric bill, I'm buying furniture on my own dime, paint and wall decals, posters, educational materials - I sold a very large painting that is funding this project but I am running out of money fast and my husband is not working and I am not getting paid for postpartum doula work because I am still a student. I sent in information for a few grants, and somehow word got to someone and I was invited to my Town's Chamber of Commerce nonprofit luncheon later this month. But how do you take on a project like this? I really want to do it because I think it's really needed and people will love it but I'm scared of doing all this by myself. What should I do?
    1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

    It is wonderful that you are taking initiative on a much needed program or idea. That being said you should have a business plan. A mentor. and sustainable funding. 

    The worst thing someone can do is to half heartedly open up a business and not know the risks, threats, or how they will sustain themselves for the first 2 years of runnign the operations (assuming you are not making any money.) The NGO/ grant space is extremely competitive and typically requires a proper legal entity set up as a 501c3, and a board, etc. 

    Because there are a LOT of things to consider, beyond just having a good heart and passion to serve....I would recommend you find a good mentor in your own community. Go to the Chamber of commerce, or local university or start up hub and seek counsel from someone who is a business advisor (typically people will offer these services for free form the right institution). Then find a draft of a business plan online and use it as a skeleton to start thinking through all the who's, what's and how's of the business you want to operate. If you open your doors and then run out of money in a month and have to close, that's breaking promises and ruining the goodwill with people in your community. So complete a business plan and THINK through all the hard, stimulating questions that a blueprint will provide for you. 

     

    I think it's great you have a dream...so take the practical steps now to prepare yourself..before doing the "fun"stuff like designing and decorating the office space. You will get there with the right support!

    View solution in original post

    2 REPLIES 2

    It is wonderful that you are taking initiative on a much needed program or idea. That being said you should have a business plan. A mentor. and sustainable funding. 

    The worst thing someone can do is to half heartedly open up a business and not know the risks, threats, or how they will sustain themselves for the first 2 years of runnign the operations (assuming you are not making any money.) The NGO/ grant space is extremely competitive and typically requires a proper legal entity set up as a 501c3, and a board, etc. 

    Because there are a LOT of things to consider, beyond just having a good heart and passion to serve....I would recommend you find a good mentor in your own community. Go to the Chamber of commerce, or local university or start up hub and seek counsel from someone who is a business advisor (typically people will offer these services for free form the right institution). Then find a draft of a business plan online and use it as a skeleton to start thinking through all the who's, what's and how's of the business you want to operate. If you open your doors and then run out of money in a month and have to close, that's breaking promises and ruining the goodwill with people in your community. So complete a business plan and THINK through all the hard, stimulating questions that a blueprint will provide for you. 

     

    I think it's great you have a dream...so take the practical steps now to prepare yourself..before doing the "fun"stuff like designing and decorating the office space. You will get there with the right support!

    View solution in original post

    Yeah, I'm learning all of this the hard way. You are spot-on about opening for a month and having to close. Thank you so much for your comments, I appreciate the reality check, it certainly playing out like you're saying.