Starting a Nonprofit

Starting a new nonprofit is a large undertaking and is an in-depth, legal process involving both state and federal government agencies. The Utah Nonprofits Association is a state membership association that provides services and support to member nonprofit organizations operating in Utah. While we care about all nonprofits in Utah and we want to make sure that all nonprofits begin on the right foot, neither our mission nor our capacity enables us to help start nonprofits.

What we do offer is limited to the following resources.

Because we are neither attorneys nor accountants, our assistance is limited to what you’ll find on this page. If you do find that you need expert accounting and legal help, please visit our Services for Nonprofits page.

We’d also like to invite you to consider joining UNA as an individual. Your membership with UNA will help integrate you into the community of nonprofits — a community that shares your hopes of a better Utah. Information about joining UNA can be found on our Become a Member page. Best of luck in this journey and we look forward to seeing you at a future UNA event.

Starting a Nonprofit Resources

Before beginning the nonprofit creation process, please also review these important considerations:

Evaluate Your Idea

  • What is your mission and vision? Can you clearly state your mission in two sentences or less?
  • What are your goals and objectives? Can these be easily defined?
  • Who else is doing already this?
  • Is it affordable? Do NOT assume that funding will be easily forthcoming; many foundations, for example, will only fund organizations that have been in existence for several years.
  • Be sure to perform a SWOT analysis. See below for process.
  • Can you clearly describe the steps needed to succeed?
  • Will others (foundations and government grantmakers, individual donors, board members, and volunteers) commit time and resources to your cause?
  • Do you and your supporters have the needed skills to start the new organization?

Alternatives to Starting a New Nonprofit

  • Get involved with local organizations that share your mission/vision — volunteer, serve as a board member, or find out if they have any staff openings.
  • Consider a partnership with an existing organization. There might be the possibility to start a special program under the umbrella of an established nonprofit. UNA has over 600 nonprofit members of the more than 10,000 nonprofits in Utah!
  • Start a local chapter of a national or regional organization or association.
  • Operate as an unincorporated organization, though be aware that there are increased risks to personal assets of stakeholders, limitations on operations, and donations are not tax-deductible. Unincorporated organizations are informal groups or collaborations coming together to achieve a common goal.

Perform a SWOT Analysis

  • SWOT stands for Strengths (internal), Weaknesses (internal), Opportunities (external), and Threats (external). Use this tool to create a quick map of the internal and external view of your potential organization, and the SWOT will help make the decision of how to proceed. More importantly, it will provide some creative thinking about your organization and its relationship to the general community.
  • A SWOT analysis will also help determine how to use internal strengths to manage threats, and it will identify weaknesses to focus on improvements through awareness. It will increase success by identifying new opportunities for the organization.
  • Keep in mind that if the result of the SWOT is to not proceed with forming your nonprofit — it is a sign not of failure, but that the community cannot successfully support your project.

Reasons NOT to Start a New Nonprofit Organization

  • It is for a time-limited special project that will benefit the community.
  • You wish to support a specific needy individual.
  • You think a lot of grant money is available.
  • You have a service or product to provide as a donation or below cost but want a tax deduction.
  • You feel your current work is not meaningful.
  • You have important knowledge or perspectives to share.
  • You want to do things your own way without the "bureaucracy" normally involved.