Like any good reporter, I like to begin the process of writing blog posts with a little research. You’ll probably be amused, but not surprised, to know that when I Googled “start a nonprofit” alongside the word “headache,” our favorite search engine returned 1,720,000 results in 0.93 seconds.
Starting a nonprofit is tough, and managing through the labyrinth of various government rules and regulations isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But one state, the State of New York, is looking to change that with the introduction of a new online resource center aimed to streamline relations between nonprofits and the state government.
And, investing in the nonprofit sector is a smart move. New York’s 100,000 nonprofit organizations account for more than 18 percent of all private sector jobs in New York State, employing more than 1.25 million people. Nonprofits do vital work on more than 6,000 state contracts.
“This website realizes the governor’s commitment to strengthen the working relationship between the nonprofit sector and New York State agencies,” Fran Barrett, interagency coordinator for not-for-profit services in the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, recently told The Nonprofit Times. “We want our nonprofit partners to have easy access to all the information, news, and guidance that will help them best serve New Yorkers.”
The site, https://www.ny.gov/nonprofits, includes a variety of features, including:
- A step-by-step guide to help New Yorkers establish a nonprofit organization, including how to file for tax exemptions, and links to the appropriate forms and instructions. Three easy buttons on the homepage provide quick answers to everyday questions like how to start a nonprofit, apply for grants, or find grant opportunities.
- Instructions for nonprofits to prequalify for state grants. The Grants Gateway system allows nonprofits to complete many of the administrative tasks prior to the application process and also ensures that the state is partnering with qualified, responsible nonprofit organizations.
- Information on new state initiatives, such as the $100 million in total funding for the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program.
- The latest news and information, including updates on grants, government initiatives, and more.
So why are we talking about it on Forward Together?
On the membership side of our portfolio – which is where I spend most of my time – we talk a lot about engagement and how to capture information about your members, to learn more about them and (ultimately) improve their member experience. We talk, too, about sharing information, what’s going to be valuable, and what will help move the needle. For what it’s worth, I had a lot of these same kind of conversations when I wrote thought leadership pieces for our fundraising tools, as well.
Portals, like the one introduced in New York, are designed to increase productivity, strengthen relationships, foster collaboration and innovation, and – most importantly – provide critical, targeted business intelligence. Portals accomplish this by unifying content from multiple sources on one single page that provides users with a highly visual presentation of relevant, related information in a consolidated format.
For nonprofits, the value of a portal like www.ny.gov/nonprofits is a no-brainer. They’ll see gains in efficiency in their interactions with the state, and get access to information that may influence everything from daily operations to key strategic decisions. But, the state gets something out of it, too.