The dilemma of starting a non-profit.

The main idea of this entire blog is that everyone has an idea for a business, and with all the news in the past few years of entrepreneurs making it big, everyone wants to do it.  So here’s an idea I came up with just to do some research on and some of the dilemmas involved.

The vision: to further scientific education for children in lower income schools.

Age groups: k-12

Goals: To provide field trips to locations where science is involved, to provide scientific kits that can allow teachers to add something to their lesson plans which may spark interest, and to further education in lower income families.

The biggest issue for me in starting up: do I want to stick to this as my life work?  As a recent graduate in the job-seeking pool of candidates, I think to myself, what happens to the start-up if I find a job?  Am I OK with just stopping out of the blue after maybe just setting up a couple field trips?  Am I OK with just putting it into the hands of someone else?  Do I want to spend the rest of my life doing it or do I want to put something on my resume simply to get a great job by showing my entrepreneurial spirit?  The vision is there, the goal is great, and it would be a benefit to humanity.  Am I afraid of failure?  What happens if I fail?  Is the time I’m currently spending on daily activities more worthwhile than this?  Well the answer to that would be no since all I’ve been doing is applying for jobs while working and interning part time.  Perhaps over-analyzing is a weakness of mine and why I may never be a great non-profit entrepreneur.

Now how do I start up?  I don’t have the 1000$+ to invest into purchasing the required licenses.  If I had that money would I even be able to make anything of it?  Optimism would be key here.  I can probably afford to start a website, but would I be able to make the website aesthetically pleasing?  It seems this should not be a lone venture, but who can I ask to help?  Do I ask random friends who have the same personal questions as I do (listed in my first paragraph)?  Are any of them willing to split cost of licenses?  Would they be as interested in the cause as I am?  Can I just use a website like WordPress instead of purchasing a domain?  Do I have to hire people to help me run things?  So many questions.  Let’s say I was able to answer all of them and I obtained the funds to start up.  What is the business plan?

I would be working closely with local museums, nature centers, universities, and other educational destinations at first to provide free field trips.  On top of that we would use funds to purchase any variety of science kits that can aid teachers in their science lesson plans for a day of “crystal” making, or creating a fully functional vinegar and baking soda volcano.  How would I continue to gather money?  Through advertisement, going to businesses to request to leave donation jars.  That probably won’t be enough.  Now here comes another dilemma.  Let’s say I was able to find a starting job paying 70-100k, would I be better off donating 500-1000$ to a museum or nature center as long as they allow a group of children to have a free field trip, then deduct that off my taxes?

The idea is simple, it solves a problem, but then what are the opportunity costs?  Is actually starting the non-profit even difficult or is it just fear of not being able to commit?

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