How to Run a Nonprofit in 2024

Reviewed by:

No items found.


May 16, 2023

Last Updated:

January 9, 2024

Every person is passionate about something. From animal rights to clean water access, everyone has a vision of how the world could be improved.

If you’re considering transforming your vision into action by creating a nonprofit organization, then this article is for you.

In this post, we will explain how to run a nonprofit by outlining nonprofit roles, responsibilities, and challenges to expect along the way.

Let’s dive in.

Importance of Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations work to raise revenue for the benefit of their community rather than the benefit of shareholders.

It is their commitment to a clearly defined mission that differentiates them from a not-for-profit organization or for-profit businesses. By working together with donors, volunteers, and community support, they work to develop programs and services that help others.


Take, for example, the ASPCA. On their “About Us” page, you can see their mission:

“to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States” 

It is this commitment to the betterment of society that makes nonprofits so important. Through the work of passionate individuals and supporters, these organizations can address all sorts of societal issues, both on a small or large scale.

Some other ways nonprofits contribute to the benefit of society include:

  • Homeless Centers
  • Food Banks
  • Blood Drives
  • Nature Conservation
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • And more!

Nonprofits are incredibly important because they help fill critical gaps in our communities. As a crucial part of our society, nonprofits provide an opportunity for those who are passionate about making the world a better place to make a difference.

Determining Roles and Responsibilities

Board of Directors

Now that we know what makes them so important, it is time to identify the various roles and responsibilities involved in running a nonprofit organization.

Board of Directors

While not paid, a nonprofit’s board of directors has a huge say on the runnings of the organization.

By serving in terms stipulated by the nonprofit’s bylaws, board members have a legal obligation to oversee the nonprofit’s activities. They are required to always put the needs of the organization first and to ensure it is complying with both state and federal laws and regulations while working toward its mission.

Here are just some of the responsibilities that are typically expected of a board of directors:

  • Hiring and overseeing the work of the Executive Director
  • Contributing to the creation of the organization’s annual budget
  • Bookkeeping and investment oversight
  • Monitoring programs and services
  • Creating realistic plans and goals for the organization

Furthermore, the board of directors also has the external responsibility of helping with fundraisers, performing community outreach, and spreading the word about the nonprofit’s mission and its work.

To learn more about how to set up a nonprofit board of directors, check out this post on our blog.

Executive Director

As the leader of the organization, it is the Executive Director’s job to ensure the nonprofit fulfills its mission by managing its resources, creating programs, and recruiting the right people.

Through fundraisers, individual giving campaigns, and grants, the Executive Director plays a major role in deciding how the nonprofit will generate revenue to fulfill its mission.

In order to do this effectively and legally, the Executive Director must also ensure that the nonprofit is properly registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3). Every year, a nonprofit will need to report its fundraising activities, fill-out 990 forms, and complete other fiscal responsibilities that prove that you are using the funds of your tax-exempt organization to fulfill its mission.

This level of transparency is not only demanded by law, but it can also help you build trust with your donors.

As every state has different requirements, an Executive Director needs to make sure to research local laws and regulations to ensure the nonprofit is in compliance with them.

For more information on other tasks involved in creating and managing a nonprofit, check out this post on our blog.


Most nonprofits also rely on the support of unpaid volunteers to advance their missions.

As you can imagine, recruiting, training, and managing these volunteers requires a significant amount of effort. Many nonprofits will have dedicated volunteer coordinators that are responsible for overseeing this work.

While every nonprofit’s volunteer recruitment and training strategies will differ according to their own unique needs and circumstances, it’s important that volunteers understand:

  • Roles and their responsibilities and expectations
  • How to best use the tools and resources at their disposal
  • Proper policies and procedures

The board, Executive Director, and volunteers are just some of the most common positions within nonprofit organizations. You can learn more about other nonprofit roles and their responsibilities in this article.

Find Your Next Grant

17K Live Grants on Instrumentl

150+ Grants Added Weekly

+3k NonprofitsNew matchesTry Instrumentl free for 14 days

Challenges Faced by Nonprofit Organizations


Just as important as understanding the roles involved in running a nonprofit organization is understanding the challenges ahead. While one can never be fully prepared for everything, it is good to at least be aware of the most common hurdles you may encounter.

Doing Too Much Too Soon

When you are first starting with your nonprofit, it is easy to dream big. You are probably well familiar with the challenges your community faces and all the different solutions that could help address these problems.

However, it is incredibly unlikely, especially in the beginning, that you’ll be able to accomplish all of what you envision right away. For this reason, it is recommended that you focus on a few initiatives and slowly grow as more resources become available.

Make sure to stick to your budget and plan around what you can afford. Even though a nonprofit organization is not technically a for-profit business, you still should focus on making the highest return on investment (ROI) possible with your spending and programs.

Getting Noticed by the Right Audience

In today’s digital era, there are hundreds of thousands of organizations fighting for the limited attention of individuals. This makes getting noticed a herculean challenge.

The key to getting noticed is to create an outreach strategy that doesn’t focus on finding a wide audience, but the right audience. Know the profile of your most loyal donors and target your marketing efforts at them.

For example, if your audience is younger, maybe platforms like Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok might be more suited for your outreach. If your audience skews older, sending marketing collateral in the mail might be a better strategy.

For more information on how you can better market your nonprofit, check out this post on our blog about nonprofit branding.

Finding and Recruiting the Right Volunteers

Securing volunteers can be a challenge for some nonprofits. Finding the right talent that can provide your organization with the support it needs can be incredibly difficult, especially in the beginning.

Don’t be afraid to invest in recruitment efforts. Some ways you can find and recruit volunteers include:

The good news is that many of the techniques you use to attract donors can also be used to attract volunteers.

The people who care enough about your nonprofit to donate are often the same people who will care enough to volunteer. In order to let them know that you are seeking help, consider creating different types of ads that can be targeted at volunteers and at donors separately.

Operating with Unstable Income

Because nonprofits rely on donations, they often have to work with unstable income.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways for you to increase your nonprofit’s revenue. Successful fundraising strategies can truly make a difference between just getting by and thriving.

Similarly, grants are a great way to cover both operative costs and fund projects. Platforms such as Instrumentl can help nonprofits find the right grants that align with their mission and needs. You can sign up for a free 14-day trial today to start finding grants that can help you secure support for your organization.

Want to get better at grants?

Join 10K+ grant pros already receiving our 5-minute free newsletter, packed with grant strategies, networking events and new funding opportunities.

Get access to weekly advice and grant writing templates

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

10k+ grant writers have already subscribed

Wrapping Up: The Next Steps


Establishing a nonprofit and running it successfully is as hard as it is rewarding.

While their work is crucial, at times, the dream of starting and sustaining a nonprofit can seem impossible. But it doesn’t have to be like that. With this article, we’ve given you some of the beginning tools and knowledge required to get your organization running so that your nonprofit can not only make a difference, but thrive while doing so.

Instrumentl team

Instrumentl team

Instrumentl is the all-in-one grant management tool for nonprofits and consultants who want to find and win more grants without the stress of juggling grant work through disparate tools and sticky notes.

Become a Stronger Grant Writer in Just 5 Minutes

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

17,502 Open Grants Waiting For You

Find grant opportunities to grow your nonprofit

Try 14 days free

10 Ready-to-Use Cold Email Templates That Break The Ice With Funders

Transform funder connections with our 10 expert-crafted cold email templates. Engage, build bonds, showcase impact, and elevate conversations effortlessly.

Read Ebook

Related posts

Try Instrumentl

The best tool for finding & organizing grants

128 reviews | High Performer status on

Try free for 14 days