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How to Start a Non-profit Organization

Written by: Lauren Anderson

Edited by: Jacqueline Cheung

Dear CCP Readers,

Welcome back to the CCP blog. We hope our blog posts continue to educate our community and beyond on areas relating to homelessness, mental health, youth education, and how non-profit organizations can provide support to each of these areas. Today’s blog post will provide an overview of how to start a non-profit.

The Canadian Courage Project was founded by two sisters in 2020, and it is the first non-profit organization to support youth facing homelessness and offer services for their animal companions. Shania and Anya Bhopa started the CCP with the goal of empowering young people to strive for social impact, push boundaries in the workplace, support youth facing homelessness, and offer services for one’s animal companions. The CCP has exponentially grown over the past three years and we want to share some tips with you about how to start your own non-profit organization for a mission you care about!

We found that starting a non-profit organization has been such a fulfilling and impactful way to address a cause that we’re passionate about. So, whether you want to make a difference in your community or address a large issue, the process of starting a non-profit requires intentional planning and organization. In this blog post, we'll walk you through the essential steps to help you start your own nonprofit organization.

If you would like to learn more information regarding the current state of homelessness in Canada and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), welcome! If you are returning for more information about the particular challenges faced by youth experiencing homelessness and those with animal companions, welcome back! If you are new to our blog, welcome to the community and thank you for your interest in learning more about issues regarding the homelessness crisis in Canada and beyond - you are one step closer to becoming a changemaker in your community, and you are in great company.

Step 1: Follow your dreams and build your mission

Once you have clearly described your goals, it is important to build your organization’s mission. Every non-profit begins with a clear and compelling mission that encompasses both your personal values and the values you want to display within your community. It is important to define the purpose of your organization, the specific issue you want to address, and your target audience/community. Research existing organizations in the same space to ensure your cause is unique or offers a fresh perspective. Crafting a well-defined mission statement will guide your organization's activities and attract supporters who resonate with your cause.

Next Steps

What’s next after outlining the mission and goals of your organization? Conducting research on the groundwork is necessary to build your organization in your local area. Every government/municipality has different guidelines on how to legally start your organization. In Canada, a non-profit organization is usually described as a charitable organization. Follow these guidelines to understand the legal framework outlined in Canada. You must incorporate your organization once you have created a business plan. After incorporation, it is important to gather the directors of your board and create your organization’s by-laws, which will become the governing laws of your organization. It is essential that you become familiar with your government’s process to incorporate as a non-profit organization before you get started. Once you have established the legality of your org, it’s time to get started by fundraising and networking! We have found collaboration with local partners incredibly fruitful for the success of the Canadian Courage Project.

Collaboration fosters innovation!

Connecting with local partners has been an important ingredient to our success. These partnerships are filled with mutual support, resources, and shared expertise. By teaming up with local businesses, large corporations and other non-profits, you can gain access to a network of shared audiences, funding, and valuable learning. Teaming up with like-minded organizations has provided us with a world of knowledge on how to approach our goals from innovative approaches. For example, our upcoming fundraising event, ‘BFFs & Barkuterie,’ is a collaborative event with Ontario Doggos and 100% of the proceeds will go towards building animal wellness booths at Toronto youth shelters. The Doggos team creates dog-friendly events in Toronto and is a perfect partner for this fundraiser. The event will be a charcuterie board master class that will be both fun and educational! Get your tickets here to join us!

Fundraising and events are integral parts of maintaining funds and awareness for your organization, in addition to securing grants from corporations. We have been blessed to partner with so many local organizations to share our initiatives and we believe it's one of the best forms of marketing as well! If you are interested in partnering with CCP, click here!

Shania & Anya’s Top 3 Tips for Starting A Non-Profit

  1. Advice for young founders: No matter your age, gender, or life experiences, you are fully capable of pursuing your passions! As long as you put your mind to it and do the work, you can accomplish your goals. There is no pressure to compare yourself to others!

  2. Budget & Fundraising: Make sure to budget for all aspects of the organization both quarterly and annually. This could include team lunches, gas money, etc. Every detail counts! Setting a budget helps you maintain a clear outlook for the present and future. It also better informs your annual fundraising goals. For fundraising, we have found it helpful to consider all methods of fundraising at every level. This also includes applying for grants at the community, corporate, and government levels. Get creative and research all your options!

  3. Remember your passion and your why for starting your organization, and then have fun with your peers while fulfilling your ‘why!’

Throughout this post, we outlined steps involved in starting a nonprofit organization and some advice from our founders! From defining your mission and conducting thorough research to choosing a legal structure, obtaining necessary licenses, and networking and fundraising as each step plays a vital role in laying a solid foundation for your organization.

By developing a compelling fundraising strategy, establishing budgets, and building a team of passionate individuals, you can set your nonprofit up for long-term success. Embrace both partnerships and community engagement to expand your reach and maximize your impact. Also, remember to have fun!

Our CCP team hopes that you found this blog post both informational and resourceful. We hope to continue this important conversation and we hope that you do too! Our goal at the CCP is to better the well-being of people facing homelessness. If you would like to join our team or support us on our mission, please contact us! Thank you for reading our blog! Feel free to leave a comment with your feedback and/or insights to help us enrich the quality of future posts and cater to the interests of our community of changemakers.

- The CCP Team

Join us for our upcoming events!





1. Government of Canada. (n.d.). Creating a not-for-profit corporation. Retrieved from

2. The Canadian Courage Project. (n.d.). Retrieved from

3. The Canadian Courage Project. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from

4. Government of Canada. (n.d.). Federal incorporation. Retrieved from

5. National Council of Nonprofits. (n.d.). Business planning for nonprofits. Retrieved from Business Planning for Nonprofits | National Council of Nonprofits

6. CCP. (n.d.). Partners. Retrieved from

7. Doggos. (n.d.). Retrieved from

8. Eventbrite. (n.d.). BFFs Barkuterie: Dog-friendly charcuterie class. Retrieved from

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