All around the world, NGOs, or Non-Governmental Organizations, do great things and change the lives of people. If you are passionate about something, have plenty of ambitions, and think you can handle running your own entity, here is a step-by-step guide on starting an NGO in Nigeria.
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1. Know the difference
You often hear terms NGO, or non-governmental organization, and NPO, or non-profit organization. While it may seem that the two terms are interchangeable, they actually refer to completely different entities.
A non-profit organization can be owned, funded, and run by anyone, but any profits it may bring are invested back into the organization and its operations. A non-government organization receives the most of its funding from the government, although the government does not take part in the operations. The extra profits of NGOs are divided between the owners and shareholders.
2. Design your NGO
Before you can take any legal steps to own a non-governmental organization, you need to know what exactly you want to be doing. Your NGO must have a clear purpose and mission that should be based on your beliefs. You will also need to choose a name for your NGO, which should both clearly describe the goals of the organization and be eye-catching enough for people to check out.
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Another essential aspect of starting an NGO is designing a plan for your organization. You need to take into account everything, from how you are going to run the hiring process to how exactly you plan to achieve the goals of your NGO. Your plan will be the first thing anyone interested in your NGO will want to see, so make sure it paints the right picture.
3. Make key decisions
Like any business, a non-governmental organization cannot successfully function without your detailed understanding of the things you want to do and how you want to do them. Here are just some of the key questions you need to answer in order to enjoy success with your new NGO:
- Do I have enough personal funds to run an NGO?
- Are there any government or business grants I can apply for?
- Who is my target audience and what is the proper marketing strategy?
- Who will help me carry out my plans?
- How and when am I going to report about my NGO’s achievements?
4. Comply with the legal requirements
Unfortunately, having a great name and an even greater plan for your NGO is not enough to achieve success. You also need to properly register your organization according to the legal requirements in this field. You will be closely working with the Corporate Affairs Commission, or CAC.
You have two options there. The first one is to register as a company limited by guarantee, although you can only do so with the authority of the Attorney General. The other option is registering as an incorporated trustee.
The first step here will be for the CAC to check the availability of your selected NGO name. If this name is already taken by another entity, you will need to choose a different one.
Once the name is approved by the CAC, you will then need to receive an application form and do a publication of notice regarding your new NGO. The publication must be done in at least three national daily papers, and at least one of them must be a local paper distributed in the area where your NGO will be located.
The list of documents you will need to submit along with the filled-in application form includes:
- Formal application letter
- Applicant’s constitution (2 copies)
- Newspaper publications
- Applicant’s passport photograph (2)
- Detailed minute of the meeting where the NGO appointed a board of trustees and the constitution of the organization was approved.
- Bank transfer of ₦20,000 in favour of the CAC.
As soon as you have gathered all the documents required for a successful submission, all you need to do is wait for the CAC to approve your application. This is where the interesting part of running an NGO starts!
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