To Be or Not to Be (nonprofit, that is)?

You see a need, a really huge and unmet need. You develop a vision around how to address that need. And now you are ready to tackle that need. Where do you go from there?

I see a need within the church. We have more older adult (65 and older) than youth (18 and under) in our country for the first time in our history, and yet as a whole the church is lacking in how they minister to those older adults. I think sometimes it’s because they don’t see the need, sometimes because they don’t know how to meet the need. There are resources out there but they are scattered. There’s little support for those who are engaged in ministry to and with older adults, and even less of a community for them. This is especially true when you compare it all to the resources, training, communities, gatherings and retreats, etc. available for those ministering to youth.

So, my mission is very simple: Encourage and equip churches, leaders and volunteers for ministry to and with older adults. I posted this yesterday on LinkedIn summarizing that vision:

What is the Best Way to Go About Meeting that Vision?

THAT is the question of the day.

Right away, when one thinks of something like this, we default to creating a nonprofit organization. That allows you to raise support, and once you’ve raised support, that allows you to dive headlong into that mission.

But it’s not always that easy, is it? The thing is, being a nonprofit requires a lot of work built around being a nonprofit. Having lived in the nonprofit world, I see how much time has to be put into supporting that nonprofit status. Between fundraising and reporting and maintaining a board, I’m not convinced that you really have that opportunity to dive headlong into that mission.

For now, it’s just dive into that mission anyway.

I’ve picked up some self employed gigs here and there to pay the bills. It doesn’t allow as much time to devote to this mission as it does if I could do it fulltime, but given all that’s involved in creating and maintaining a nonprofit organization, I’m not sure that I have any less time now to devote to what I want to accomplish than if I had the support to create an organization.

I’d love to hear from others who have been involved in nonprofit work. What is your experience in how much time you can devote to the actual work you are accomplishing and how much of your time is involved maintaining status?

Right now, I’m just diving into part one of the vision. Getting people together. Some of this is going to involve a content marketing approach, providing content and ideas and thoughts through social media, and growing connections that way. So if you’re one of my contacts who has noticed a spike lately in postings from a person who’s been a relative LinkedIn wallflower until now, this is why. And then from there, we can see what happens after that.

Taking advantage of the internet

I know there have been efforts in the past to develop organizations to support older adult ministry that ended up being financially unsustainable. But the growth of the internet and the growth of the ability to reach out through platforms that cost little or nothing can be a game changer in accomplishing many of the same things for a fraction of the cost. One person with the right message presented in the right ways can have a tremendous impact without the infrastructure that was needed a decade or more ago. We can do outreach, and as we reach people of like interest, and they reach others with like interest, we can develop a community where we can exchange ideas, information etc.

As that happens, that may be the time the decision has to be made: where do we go from here? Here’s the thing: there are many social organizations that are dedicated to making a positive difference that operate without a nonprofit designation. Sometimes the things you do can generate revenue. Is it better to do that through a nonprofit structure or remain as a taxed entity? I don’t know. That’s a bridge to be crossed one day.

In the mean time, I’m looking to connect to anyone who might want to travel that road. If you are passionate about ministry related to older adults, I’d love to hear from you.

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