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Navigating the Nonprofit sector as a highschooler / By: Fathima Shaikhn

In a world with problems ranging from climate change to world hunger, the importance of organizations working for societal good is more evident now than ever. These social enterprises, also known as nonprofits, are known for their work towards a cause that's done without profit for the organization. As an ambitious teenager looking to impact the world around you, you might be interested in starting a nonprofit. However, this process is no easy feat. In fact, according to the data from National Center on Charitable Statistics states, "approximately 30% of nonprofits fail to exist after 10 years (". Starting a nonprofit takes dedication, ambition, and resilience. 

After identifying the product or service you want your nonprofit to serve, you need to ensure you have a reliable source of support so you can begin the actual process of building your organization. Tracy Frizzell, Executive Director of the Economic and Awareness Council, says that "identifying a vital need in your community & acquiring a strong group of volunteers to serve on your board are vital first steps to starting a nonprofit." As a teenager, utilizing school clubs and activities as a means to network with like-minded peers can be a great start to building a team. 

Additional steps would include:

  • Building reliable sources of financial support

  • Finding and growing your market

  • Keeping your nonprofit relevant over time

Drew Parker of the Real Estate Executive Council stresses the importance of building reliable sources of financial support to sustain a nonprofit. He says,: "Kkeep your costs low, especially at first, while you're building out your customer base to get things going without putting too much pressure on yourself." When building your customer base and brand affinity, you can turn to a variety of different methods, from web pages, articles, social media, and in-person community events. But to ensure your nonprofit continues having a lasting impact, it's vital to keep your market engaged. Interacting with them at public events and through social media assists with ensuring you're keeping up to date with the needs of your market.

While starting a nonprofit as a teenager is daunting, it is possible. There are approximately 1.8 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. (, with many of them being student-run. By following these steps, you can also join this community of people looking to change the world around them.


Tracy EAC, drew Parker REEX


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