I seek a response to this question as it relates to a rural community made up of a small and widely dispersed population, a competent town council, and a few small businesses. My interest is motivated mostly by my husband’s observation of restless students when the town’s elementary, middle, and high schools are closed. A center could benefit these typically well behaved youth, the increasing and energetic elderly population, and improve an already close-knit community. My background is in addiction and youth counseling with an earlier history in office administration and grass roots volunteering. My husband teaches middle school, coaches basketball and football, and is a former youth counselor himself. We both are military veterans with novice business sense. I am further motivated by the answers from this Yahoo community on similar questions posted by others. I am fishing now for your feedback specific to starting a community center in a *rural* area.
First, you have to do a needs assessment. You have to gather statistics and interview people in order to show a community center is needed. You have to either find an existing nonprofit organization that will partner with you on this dream of yours (holding all money you raise, overseeing your plans, covering you with your liability insurance, screening volunteers, etc.), or, you have to form a nonprofit organization.
You will need a business plan, in writing:
* What services will this organization provide?
* What statistics and testimonials do you have that prove this organization is needed?
* Will the organization charge for these services? If so, how much?
* What will these services achieve? How will you prove those achievements?
* How much will providing these services costs — rental space, computer, registration as a nonprofit with the federal and state, paying staff or consultants, equipment, etc.?
* How will the organization account for donations, income earned and expenses?
* What will be done to protect your clients, volunteers, staff members and others from exploitation of any kind?
* What will you do to ensure your organization is free from corruption and mismanagement, beyond just promises and assurances?
After you have written this business plan, you recruit a board of directors — people over 18 who are willing to be fiscally and legally responsible for your organization, willing to provide some of the start up costs (even a token amount), and willing to put their reputations on the line to say this organization should exist. Then you file your official paperwork with the correct government body. Also, open a bank account in the name of your nonprofit business.
And then you go here to read even more about starting a nonprofit organization, because there is even more to it than what I’ve already written: