How to start a Nonprofit in High School? *Step-By-Step Guide*

We all have a few causes close to our hearts. As a high schooler, you become quite aware of various problems faced by students. You also keep an open eye to the needs of people who are with financial limitations but are talented in some unique ways. Homeless kids, working high schoolers’ challenges and educational grants requirements are some issues that, when left unaddressed, can blow up beyond proportion. All these challenges become easier to combat with a systematic non-profit organization in place. Let’s explore in this post how you can start a non-profit while in high school; learn about all steps involved.

Types of non-profit organizations

Non-profit organizations can have two different kinds of functional make-up. It depends upon the level of involvement and the urgency to start a non-profit. These types are:

a. Umbrella organization: It is nothing but the extension of an existing organization. The high-schooler can start a new chapter of an existing non-profit and name it the ‘School Name’ Chapter of (Organization Name). Thus, you are simply working as a franchise and providing the existent non-profit an extended place to operate.

b. Startup or ground-up organization: It is the non-profit you start building from scratch. This organization will be your baby and everything right from deciding its goals to devising the action plan is your job.

For establishing the Umbrella organization, the steps involved are limited. You simply meet the existent organization’s authority and train yourself on the processes followed by it.

A coordinated work plan is agreed upon and you get your work reviewed from time to time. Starting a ground-up organization is a more elaborate process.

Starting a ground-up non-profit in high school – steps involved

It will take a considerable amount of homework to bring the idea of non-profit into reality. Students should clarify in their minds the things they want to achieve from the non-profit. Other steps included are:

  1. Look for required resources: Once you are clear on the objectives, you need to enlist the things you will need to accomplish those. For the non-profit, the requirements will include people, place of operation, merchandise, and other tools, if applicable.
  2. Pick a name: Non-profit establishment may require a name. You can use the name lookup tool or worldwide NGO directory to get the list of possible names that coincide with the niche of your non-profit.
  3. Incorporate the board of directors: Every hand counts when you are on way to establishing a non-profit. You can pool in your friends and mentors or like-minded people who share the same passion as yours.
  4. Complete the registration process: Go through the legalities and learn about applicable by-laws. Further, register the firm as per the rules so that its existence can never be questioned. Apply for the registration by reaching the relevant office in your state. Complete information can be found at NASCO.
  5. Get tax-exemption procedure completed: It is a detailed process. You can reach to the experts in this matter to carry out the process.
  6. Get a bank account opened: You can impart legally strong entity to your organization by availing federal tax identification number. Put in place the articles of incorporation, bylaws, and other documents required for opening a bank account.
  7. Avail necessary permits and licenses: The process of starting a non-profit may need permits and licenses if you have a product or service as a part of your offering.

These are a few of the legal steps involved in incorporating the non-profit in high school.

But, there are other steps that involve lots of discussions, brainstorming of ideas, and seeking help. These informal steps to take are:

  1. Discuss the idea with trusted people: These trusted people can be authoritative figures of your school, such as the principal and a few lecturers you look up to. You can present your idea in front of these people and try to explain why the non-profit can be a turning point for your high school, such as more footfall, increased popularity, etc.
  2. Reach out to volunteers: Once you have got the nod of the influential members of the high school, you can spread the word about your NGO through a notice board, SMS campaign, or the school’s website. Reach the volunteers who can contribute to your NGO in service and resources.
  3. Get a list of activities prepared: You can chalk out the action plan and jot down activities you intend to do through the NGO. Based on the availability of volunteers, you can assign activities and keep the reporting plan in place too.
  4. Prepare numbers: Select a chosen period of operation. Mostly, it is quarterly and half-yearly reviews of activities and the difference that NGOs could create. You can use these numbers as the benchmark and plan the period ahead. Performance review helps ascertain the success or failure of an NGO.
  5. Do thorough accounting: Maintain books with exceptional clarity. Factor in every penny collected and prepare a complete account of how it was used for the NGO’s purpose. You can review the loopholes and plug them next time for adopting better standards of governance.


Every little step counts when you want to make a difference to the world around. Combine the determination to change the world with your business acumen and a crisp action plan, and give your best. NGO offers the best opportunity to feed the soul and solve a problem as well. Take the help of the quick guide above and make your NGO dream possible while in high school.

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