What are some things I need to look into/consider for starting an NGO?
July 11, 2017 2:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking at starting a non-profit in California that provides free or low cost computer education (mostly basic skills) to anyone who wants to learn and takes old computers and parts them out to rebuild and sell at low cost. What do I need to look at or keep in mind with this? Any related advice would be deeply appreciated.

We're looking at using Linux Mint instead of Windows on the computers to keep the costs down and writing our own documentation so new users can get used to the system. We figure if someone's going to be learning a new system, it might as well be Linux since Mint can do 95% of what most people use computers for anyways. I've worked in the non-profit sector for several years but I'm getting lost in all the reading and would appreciate any advice.
posted by Socinus to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Read up on the Reglue Project and the blog of one of principles behind it. They're doing much the same thing in Texas. May give you some big picture things to think about.
posted by deezil at 5:02 PM on July 11, 2017

I can't really give you any specific advice, but there is a non-profit that is near-and-dear to many Portlanders hearts, FreeGeek, which does exactly as you describe (including Linux installation/education). Perhaps you could reach out to them with questions. I'm sure you can find some good ideas just by reading their site or finding things published about them.
posted by TomFoolery at 5:02 PM on July 11, 2017

Consider whether you need to have a new nonprofit in order to meet your goals. There are other options including having a related nonprofit serve as a fiscal sponsor for your work. I don't know all the details about the pros and cons, but I see "Don't start a new one!" as a response all the time when this question is posed in the Nonprofit Happy Hour Facebook group.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:15 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well shoot. Missed the edit window. This is the correct link to the Nonprofit Happy Hour Facebook Group. My bad.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:25 PM on July 11, 2017

Hi! I'm a business consultant that works with non-profits a lot.

Don't start a new non-profit. Not right now. Find a fiscal sponsor, figure out your funding, and then once you have your process down after a couple years, then look into setting up your own. *If* your funding structure makes financial sense for you to do so. Having your own non-profit is a lot of paperwork and a labyrinth of legal stuff that most new groups are not able to handle on their own, unless one of you is a lawyer who specializes in this field.

Maybe talk to these folks about fiscal sponsorship?

You can also check out SELC, a non-profit law organization that provides free classes, training, and legal advice to local non-profits.
posted by ananci at 7:30 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Check out FreeGeek in Portland, OR... similar concept. Might be someone there willing to give you some advice?
posted by stormyteal at 10:29 PM on July 11, 2017

This just popped up on my radar.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:06 AM on July 16, 2017

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