Creating a Non-Profit for Your Birth Work
Thirty-plus years ago, I made the decision to find a way to serve families as a midwife. It was stressful doing birth work and working a traditional job. In my hiring interview, I told the employer that I was a midwife/birth worker; and that I could not predict my midwife hours. “Will that be a problem,” I asked? My employer reassured me, that it would not be a problem.
Well it turned out that my employer was not OK, with me flying into the office at odd hours after a birth. I was either coming in late, leaving early, or not coming in at all, because of attending a mother who had a long labor, or leaving work because a baby needed to be born during my 9am-5pm job.
My employer finally told me that my birth work was not a good fit for their company. After, I left the job, I realized that I wanted to work for myself so I that I could give my full attention to serving pregnant women and new families.
I told my family and friends that I needed a way to make a living doing what I loved. Community members suggested that I consider creating a non-profit. Through a non-profit I could promote physiological birth and midwifery care as a way of reducing infant mortality and premature birth.
Co-Founding a Non-Profit
In 1978, I co-founded my first non-profit the Traditional Childbearing Group. It allowed me to serve families as a birth worker, without having to apologize for being at a birth. Being responsible for developing a non-profit was challenging. Yet it taught me leadership skills, fundraising skills, business management, policy, networking, advocacy, grassroots organizing, being with the people, and using their suggestion to improve birth outcomes. It was hard work directing a non-profit, but empowering and well worth it.
What is a Non-Profit?
Nonprofits are referred to as charitable organizations. If classified correctly, nonprofits are exempt from federal, sales and property taxes. They do need to pay payroll taxes and can be taxed if they make money from activities not related to their main purpose. To be recognized as a nonprofit by the IRS the corporation must file and obtain the appropriate classification. Most nonprofits must file form 501c3 with the IRS in order to receive the desired tax treatment.
Why a Non-Profit?
The advantage of developing a nonprofit allows a person to create a humanitarian mission, that builds leadership and gives a deep sense of purpose of knowing that you are providing a service that is helping others. Starting a non-profit is mission driven and can be far reaching, while still being a means to providing a quality of life for one’s family. A non-profit can receive funding and donations for improving birth outcomes, promoting midwifery in underserved communities and organizing midwives for social change. A nonprofit’s mission engages community to come together for charitable work, build relationships, and improve society.
Forming a Non-Profit
Brainstorm all your options, journal your ideas, run your mission and fundraising idea by your family, friends and experts in the field, research similar organizations for suggestions, pray for a sign or vision, talk with a lawyer, a foundation contact the small business association in your state, contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), shadow a CEO of a non-profit. There are many resources to help start a non-profit. A non-profit can be a good start for launching your birth work while helping the community.
- Investigated all the types of 501 c’s to determine what type meets your vision.
- Contact an attorney for legal advice.
- Create your mission
- Register your organization
- Decide on a logo
- Form a Board of Directors
- Create Articles of Incorporation
- Create Bylaws
- Choose Board Officers
- Create an organizational budget
- Apply for funding
Photo of two of the co-founders of the Boston Traditional Childbearing Group, (left) Majeeda Workneh and (right) Shafia Monroe. Picture taken in Alabama in 2015.