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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Designing your nonprofit organization: Get out of your own head and just do it

Designing your nonprofit organization: Get out of your own head and just do it

The first thing I struggled with when I began Girls Empowerment Summit Sierra Leone (GESSL), was how can this be different from others, for a while I sat on the idea, and when the opportunity presented itself I went for it.  It is important to have a plan yes, but once a few things you are certain of are in place, you can launch and do well regardless.  When you find yourself thinking through the design, talking to people who can help you, thinking about the people who need the intervention you are trying to introduce to the world, breathe you are on the right path. So I wanted to list a few things that helped me know I was ready to start my idea.

·        Discuss it with a group of like minded individuals who share your passion: This was important for me because I knew that I could not do it all on my own. I had a colleague of mine who I had did some work for her organization and we had discussed the idea of always doing work with girls in our country. So we revisited the conversation again, and the idea came to life in 2012.

·        Be clear on your vision: This was important for me, I was clear that I wanted to empower young women in my country with the little experience I had in being a woman, whilst bringing other young women to also inspire and empower them to unlock their potentials as young girls.

·        Be persistent and hardworking: Be realistic and know that your idea can possibly flop, or be criticized but you must push on either way. My co-founder and I when we started the organization we did not think we would get as much support but in our first trial we raised twice as much as we had budgeted for.

·        Develop a draft project design:  In starting GESSL we decided it would be a pilot in the first year to see how things went before we scaled up. This is a great tip, it reduces pressure from you, and also will help you test out things.  During your draft design phase,  it is important in the initial phase to develop a short mission vision, and design of what the project will be. We decided it would be a pilot for the first year where we bring a small group of girls together and test our various empowerment workshops, we were

·        Have plan for what the following year would look like: Even if this is a draft develop an agreed strategic plan on what the following year would look like for your nonprofit both in the operations (.i.e. will you register it as a nonprofit)  and programmatic sense  (what aspects of the programming will you keep and what new ones will you introduce).

Looking for more ways to develop your nonprofit?  We can assist email us at For more information on Girls Empowerment Summit visit

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