Skip to main content

How to Start an NGO

A nongovernmental organization, or NGO, is a private group usually dedicated to charitable activities. Here's how to start an NGO and support the public good.


  • Step 1: Identify projects you need funds for, your fundraising goals, and a list of potential donors, including foundations, businesses, religious groups, and individuals. Donations can come as money or as items that support your NGO's infrastructure.
  • TIP: Contact members of the press to publicize your NGO's efforts.
  • Step 2: Raise funds to expand your operation. Revisit your short- and long-term goals regularly to ensure you stay focused and help as many people as you possibly can.
  • FACT: A 2009 Indian-government study found there were 3.3 million NGOs operating in India, approximately 1 per every 400 citizens.
  • Step 3: After registering your NGO, hold the first board meeting. Officially accept the bylaws, approve an accountant to help set up a donation system, and choose a board member to act as the NGO's bookkeeper and manage the finances.
  • Step 4: Draft the NGO's bylaws, which detail how the organization functions and the officers' responsibilities. Once the directors approve the articles of incorporation and the bylaws, register the NGO with your local government.
  • Step 5: Recruit a handful of people to serve on your NGO's board of directors. Approach people who bring creative ideas and passion, can work collaboratively, and are willing to serve in the public's best interest.
  • Step 6: Choose a name for your NGO; check with government agencies to make sure the name isn’t taken. Then, create articles of incorporation to detail how the NGO gives power to the board. Consult a lawyer to ensure that the documents meet your government's legal requirements for registering an NGO.
  • TIP: Consult online resources for your government's specific registration requirements, including those for nonprofit and tax-exempt status.
  • Step 7: Write a mission statement describing your NGO's goals and values. Identify the community you wish to help, as well as a strategic plan to meet their needs.

Popular Categories