Starting A Non-Profit – Part 1 with Nicole Henry | GP 148

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Starting A Non-Profit - Part 1 with Nicole Henry

Is there a service that you know your community needs? Are you inspired to provide practical and hands-on assistance to those that need it? Where would you start with launching a non-profit to sustain your community?

In the first episode of this two podcast series, LaToya Smith speaks about starting a non-profit with Nichole Henry.

Podcast Sponsor: Therapy Notes

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Meet Nichole Henry

A photo of Nichole Henry is captured. She is the CSO at SafeHaven. Nicole is featured on Grow A Group Practice, a therapist podcast.

Nichole is the Chief Services Officer of SafeHaven, a family violence center. Nichole oversees all of the agency’s victim services, including emergency shelter, transitional housing, crisis hotline, children’s programming, case management, and counseling programming.

Nichole, a Fort Worth native, has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and Master of Arts degree in professional counseling from Texas Wesleyan. She has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit work.

Connect with Nichole on LinkedIn and email her at

In This Podcast

  • Why start a non-profit?
  • A passion project versus a non-profit
  • The first steps to creating your non-profit

Why start a non-profit?

Most people want to launch a non-profit to make a difference in their community.

I also think people start a non-profit because they think [to] do that thing [that will help] and provide that service to the community, they have to have this formalized entity.

Nichole Henry

You need to think about your “why”:

  • Why do you want to start your non-profit?
  • What is it that you want to provide to your community?
  • How do you want to provide this service to the community?
  • What do you hope the impact will be?
  • Is this a part of your passion project?

A passion project versus a non-profit

You have to think deeply. Is this something you just like to do, and you can contribute and donate … [but] if it’s more than that, what gets you over that point to say, “Okay, this is something I’m wholeheartedly committed to doing?”

LaToya Smith

As a therapist, there will be many things that you care about and want to contribute towards.

However, when you decide that you want to do something about the thing that you care for, you need to understand at which level you are going to commit to it.

To launch a successful and impactful non-profit takes a lot of dedication, commitment, and hard work, so you need to be ready for that and want to do it to make great change happen in your community.

The first steps to creating your non-profit

1 – Go to the Secretary of State’s website and read up on the information on non-profits

2 – File a certificate of formation

3 – Submit your non-profit address and name 

4 – Identify at least three people that are going to be on your board

5 – Have your by-laws in place for how you are going to manage your organization

Google is our friend. We have to be careful with Google, but if we’re smart with it [then] we can find examples and samples… also, reach out to people that you know that have non-profits and ask them, “Can I see your by-laws?”

Nichole Henry

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet LaToya Smith

An image of LaToya Smith is captured. She is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling. LaToya is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. In addition to this, LaToya encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.

She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.

Visit LaToya’s website. Connect with her on FacebookInstagramStrong Witness Instagram, and Twitter.

Apply to work with LaToya.

Email her at

Podcast Transcription

[LATOYA SMITH] The Grow A Group Practice Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Network, a network of podcast seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like the Practice of the Practice podcast, go to You are listening to the Grow A Group Practice podcast, a podcast focused on helping people start, grow, and scale a group practice. Each week you’ll hear topics that are relevant to group practice owners. I’m LaToya Smith, a practice owner, and I love hearing about people’s stories and real-life experiences. So let’s get started. Welcome back to the Grow A Group Practice Podcast. I am your host for this season, LaToya Smith and today, once again, I have Nicole Henry back on. We had a great discussion. The last episode we chatted about how to create, well, what is a mission and a vision statement and really how to create it because sometimes, listen, I’ll be honest, those things can be overwhelming and you just get stuck on trying to be perfect with it. But I really appreciate how Nicole was able to break it down and simplify it for us. So it just doesn’t seem that hard, I love the examples you gave about the vision being the destination, the mission being the driver, and the values itself being the car. Also just the breakdown of the mission being the brief statement, but the dream, I’m sorry, the vision being the dream and the mission itself being what we’re going to do to accomplish that dream. So I love it. It helps as we know, every private practice that you want to get the form should have a mission and a vision. And as we learned in the last discussion with Nicole, it’s okay to go back and write those over again as you grow, as you evolve. So today though, I had Nicole back on, but we’re going to talk about a little something different. Yes, we have group practices, yes, we’re looking at growing and scaling or starting a group practice, but what about people who want to add a non-profit branch to their work, who want to do a little bit more work in the community or maybe want to offer low-cost services or anything like that. What does it look like? How do you start, how do you develop a non-profit? So we’re going to chat with Nicole about that today. [NICOLE HENRY] Well, hello. [LATOYA] Hey, Nicole, welcome back. I appreciate you. Welcome back in. [NICOLE] Well, thank you. Thank you so much for having me again. I enjoyed our time last week, so I’m looking forward to our conversation today. [LATOYA] Me too. You know what, just for our audience, and I always say to people, you going to hear me laugh on this podcast? I’m going to laugh loud and I’m going to laugh. People have told me over the course of my life, I laugh at anything and I may just laugh at anything, but I think I met my match because I’m pretty sure Nicole laughs at anything as well. So before I hit record, we was just laughing. I’m not sure what exactly we was laughing at, but we was laughing about it. That’s a fun thing. I appreciate you coming back on because every conversation with you seems to be fun and I really enjoy it. [NICOLE] Good. I feel the same [LATOYA] Yes ma’am, yes ma’am. So, non-profit a lot of times Nicole, I hear when people think non-profit again, it’s this overwhelm that comes upon. I’ll be honest, comes upon me too, like what in the world? How do you write it? Who do you get? Oh, the budget. So much paperwork and it’s so overwhelming but a lot of times I hear therapists talk about, I would love to have a non-profit connected to my practice. I would love to do more community work but then it’s the question of how to and where’s the time going to come from and who’s going to help me? Oh, and this board, like, there’s so many questions. So I know that you, what you mentioned last time, I’m going to ask you just to introduce yourself again, just people, just so they know a little bit more about you. Then I’m going to chat more about this non-profit stuff, so just introduce yourself once again. [NICOLE] My name is Nicole Henry and I don’t remember what I said last time, or how I said it rather just, I’m a chief executive at a non-profit here in Tarrant County. I have over 20 years of experience in non-profit, working specifically with families in crisis whether it’s poverty, homelessness, and now victims of intimate partner violence. I also am the founder of Women in Power Empowering and we are a giving circle in Tarrant County. We launched in March of 2016. Well, we had our first little meeting gathering and then officially launched in April of 2016. Then also in 2019 I started a housing agency called Shared Worth. The pandemic slowed us down a little bit because just months later the pandemic kicked off but we are still in existence and trying to get back on our feet. So I have many years of experience and then now I am trying out this speaking gig with taking the knowledge I have and sharing it to the world because that’s what I want to do, is I want to empower people. So you do that through speaking and sharing the knowledge you have and training, then coaching and all of those things. That’s me. [LATOYA] I think you do a very good job about empowering. Even the things you created are just amazing. When I see it on social media or hear other people in the community talk about it, that’s the perfect example of how you empower other people and how you chat on here. Nicole, first things first, even in your experience with other people, why do people even start non-profits, whether it be an individual in the community or even a business owner? Why non-profit over for-profit or why non-profit connected to a for-profit? What’s some of the reasons you hear why people even want to start that? [NICOLE] I think the primary thing people think well I want to start the thing because I want to make a difference in my community and I want to do this thing to help and so I think that’s why people start. They want to do something to help. I also think people start a non-profit because they think in order to do that thing to provide that service to their community, that they have to have this formalized entity. Then also I think because people think, and I heard somebody just say this the other day there’s a lot of grants out there. Yes, they are, but it’s not what you think. It’s not as easy as you think. So I think people are a little misled there so they think I’m going to start a non-profit. The first thing I ask people is to think about their why. Why do you want start a non-profit? What is it that you want provide to the community? How do you want provide it to the community? What are you hoping the impact will be and benefit for yourself or your company will be? Is this something where it’s, and I think I said this last week, a passion project, you have a company and you all talking with your employees and realize you all have a passion for children and every Christmas you all want to do a toy drive and so you think let’s start our own non-profit that distributes toys and bicycles and we can call it Riding for Hope. Then you want to start a non-profit because you want to do this thing. But is that really necessary because there’s hundreds out there already doing it that you could just support their work and it’s a project that your company does. You would get the recognition from it and you could advertise about it and you definitely make the impact when you do it, but you don’t necessarily have to have your own non-profit. So I think people often think I have to have a non-profit to do this good I want to do. You really don’t, there are times when it’s beneficial but you have to determine first why, why do you want to start a non-profit? Then from there take the steps to figure out if it’s something necessary for me to formally organize in this way. [LATOYA] Well first of all, I like riding for hope. That just sounds great. I don’t know, we doing that or not because you took me back to, we ride bicycles around like, I want to give a kid a bite. Like, what’s up? We have to chat about that in a moment, riding for hope. That was good. I like that. So this passion, and I like how you break that down because we’re all passionate about something. Some people may not know the passion., even when we get into this work as practice owners, yes, as therapists, we got to think, hey, why’d you jump into this work? Yes, we want to help people. That’s the most general answer that we get is the truth and behind that there’s some type of passion. Yes, we’re doing this work, but that I love, love that question because, you have to think deeply. Is this something you just like to do? You can contribute, you can donate, you can pick a couple days a year to do it, or, okay, if it’s more than that, what gets you over that point to say, okay, this is something I am wholeheartedly committed to doing. So it sounds like a lot of hard work has to happen to not play games with this non-profit, but to understand this is something that I feel called to do along with my business. [NICOLE] Yes, that’s right. A lot of hard work. Why do you want to do this and are you willing to go the long-haul because most people start a non-profit, they pay somebody thousands of dollars to help them to receive the status, receive the tax-exempt status, and to do all of that, get their bylaws in order, they find the board but the passion fizzles out after two years or as soon as the response isn’t as they thought. Like I said, they think that it’s just grants out there and now we’ve started Ride for Hope so we’re going to go apply for all these grants and you don’t get anything. Then it fizzles out. So it’s important to do that hard work upfront [THERAPY NOTES] Is managing your practice stressing you out? Try Therapy Notes. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. Check it out and you will quickly see why it’s the highest rated EHR on Trustpilot with over 1000 verified customer views and an average customer rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. You’ll notice the difference from the first day you sign up for a trial. They offer live phone support seven days a week so when you have questions, you can quickly reach out to someone who can help. You are never wasting your time looking for answers online. If you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your clients’ demographic data free of charge during your trial so you can get going right away. Use the promo code [JOE], J-O-E to get three free months to try Therapy Notes free, no strings attached. Remember telehealth is included with every subscription free. Make 2022, the best year yet with Therapy Notes. [LATOYA SMITH] I like that. Okay, so now somebody’s done the hard work, they dug deep, they said, listen, this is more than a passion, I feel called, this is a need. So private practice owner, yes they are whatever, for-profit practice and now they say, okay, I want to do a greater work in the community. Maybe I do want to do ride for hope and help these youth in the area have bikes, help with exercise, fitness, physical because I’m down with ride for hope and go along with it. Or they say I want to provide services in the community to this population of people who don’t really have the finances, but there’s a great need. Whatever is this passion is now worth it after the hard work. What are the steps for all the group owners out there that listen up, what are the steps to starting a non-profit, first things first? [NICOLE] So first go to the Secretary of State website, and I’m going to say this because I don’t know if all of your listeners are Texas only. [LATOYA] All over the world. [NICOLE] All over the world. So find the Secretary of State or website for your state. There should be information there for non-profits. Our Secretary of State recently updated their page, so you have to dig around to find it. But if you go to the search bar and put in non-profits, it’ll pop up and you file what’s called a certificate of formation. With that certificate of formation for a non-profit corporation, you are going to need to submit your business address, of course your business name, your name, I say business, what’s your non-profit’s name is going to be. You are going to need to identify at least three people to be on your board. Now you can have a board that has more, but starting out with this formation, you have to have at least three individuals that you identify to be on your board. You need to have your bylaws in place. The bylaws are like your guide for how you’re going to manage this organization as far as how your board would work, how often your board will meet. If the agency was to dissolve, what happens to any funds that haven’t been accumulated, how are you going to manage that? That’s what the bylaws are comprised of. You can always listen. Google is our friend. We have to be careful with Google but if we’re smart with it, you can find examples and samples. But also reach out to people that you know that have non-profits and ask them, can I see your bylaws? Can I see your any board policy and practices you have in place? I was on the board of another non-profit here while I worked here and they knew I worked here so when it came time as a board member for us to update some of our practices and put some policies in place when it came to financial responsibility they were like, can you see what Safe Haven uses? We were like, yes, sure. We share so agencies will share. So you just reach out and ask someone that, hey, can I see your bylaws, and review it, take what you need from it. Or you can find somebody, hire somebody to write them for you. Again, I know people don’t always have time and people don’t always have the desire to do those things, but I like to tell people, but you can do it because the thought is you have to hire an attorney to do all these things. You do not. If you just take your time, here in Texas, our Secretary of State, that office that helps, they are very informative, they are very patient. I used to work for the state a long time ago, so I think I can say this, but as a state agency, they’re probably the only state agency that I have ever dialed a number and somebody picks up that phone and answers rather quickly. That’s good. That’s rare so you can get your questions answered and so I would tell, every day, okay, I know you told me this yesterday, but now another question and they answer. So certificate of formation, on there you describe what your purpose is, what are you going to be providing and any other information that maybe needed to help with getting your tax exempt status. Then you submit that and you’re out from there. It really doesn’t take long to get formed either. If you’re in a hurry, so you have this great idea and you don’t want anybody to steal your name, the riding with you, what did we say we were going to call it, Riding Hope, when you can, while you’re gathering those things, you can also save the name process where you’re incorporating the name so that way nobody comes in and takes it. But the Secretary of State website has all of those steps lined out and it’s easier than people think. It does take a little bit of time, but it is easier than people think. [LATOYA] I got questions. This is great information. Then how long, does it depend on the state, how long it takes to get back the information so you can form? Each state is different, each location’s different. [NICOLE] I’m thinking each state is going to be different. It shouldn’t take a long time. Then also here in Texas, they offer an expedited service so you can have it done within two days. [LATOYA] Oh, wow. [NICOLE] Then once you get that done, then you file for your tax exemption and of course that’s through the federal government, but again, that doesn’t even take an entire several months. It can be a short timeframe. [LATOYA] Thanks once again to Therapy Notes for sponsoring this episode. Use the promo code [JOE] to get three free months to try out Therapy Notes for free, no strings attached. Remember, telehealth is included with every subscription for free. If you love this podcast, please be sure to rate and review. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.