Developing a Vision
A Non-Profit Business Plan
Your non-profit organization will need a well developed business plan to get it off the ground. In order to simply apply for registration you'll need to clearly state the objects of your organization. You must also be aware of and prepared to comply with all federal, provincial and municipal requirements. Furthermore, in order to be successful, you'll need to have a carefully developed structure, operating procedures and bylaws.
It may sound like a lot of work, but a business plan for a non-profit organization isn't that different from any other business plan. You simply need to describe why your organization is valuable, both to those who benefit from it, and to those who fund it.
It's important when envisioning the scope of your non-profit organization to have specific aims and goals in mind. If your mandate is "to help the poor", you're probably thinking too big. You need to carefully define the group who will benefit from your activities and how they'll benefit specifically. A better mandate may be "to feed the homeless and hungry within the municipality by establishing a soup kitchen and providing information and access to local missions and shelters".
Vision and Strategic Planning
Although you should always keep long-term goals in mind, you may find them taking a back seat to the struggles of day-to-day operation. If you persevere through the difficult early years, your organization will grow and things will calm down considerably.
Just because things stabilize doesn't mean you can relax. The danger now is not in failing outright, but in stagnating and losing touch with your community. Take the time to look carefully at what worked in the past and what failed. Use this information to develop a new, stronger plan that will help you help others even more in the future.