This Handbook provides an outline of the general steps needed for starting and incorporating a NGO/NPO as well as managing it.

Starting a non-governmental organisation or a non-profit organisation (NGO/NPO) can be a lengthy, time consuming process. However, the difficulties of the process can be minimised by following a consistent series of steps and seeking advice when needed. NGO/NPOs provide much needed services to their respective communities, and thorough planning during the start-up process is crucial to develop an effective and professional organisation that is able to meet the myriad challenges faced by the world today.

There are many classifications of NGO/NPOs as determined by individual country’s laws and regulations, including co-ops, credit unions, societies, people’s organizations or community groups etc. The classifications can also designate NGO/NPOs as a religious, charitable, educational, scientific, literary or other organizations. These organizations may qualify for income tax exemption, or other financial benefits. Regional and local tax exemptions may also apply on a region by region basis.

Detailed instructions for each of the steps outlined in this handbook can typically be obtained from local governments or a designated government agency/board, an attorney, or a local nonprofit management support organisation.

The issues covered here are of a very general nature, and actual situations will, of course, vary from country to country. Starting an NGO/NPO may only require a strong vision, or a need, for people to come together as a group and work to satisfy that need. NGOs can range from 1-2 persons working on a single local issue to an international NGO network with thousands of members working globally on a range of issues. The key ingredients that make or break an NGO/NPO, of course, are its programmes and projects. It covers the issues and themes that the NGO/NPO addresses, the target areas or communities that it works in, funding available and the activity’s partners.