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How to Start and Register an NGO Online in Nigeria

If you desire to make an impact or be a medium to bless humanity then starting an NGO in Nigeria is one of the ways you can use to achieve that. 

NGOs play roles Government and private institutions have failed to play. An NGO helps in tackling issues related to poverty, economic development, environment protection, delivering health care, women empowerment, youth empowerment, and many other humanitarian activities.

You must have compassion and a strong desire to create change in a specific area so that you will be able to move on even when things get tough.

Therefore, you must answer the question. “Am I ready to give it my all?”.

The meaning of NGO, and how to start and register an NGO online in Nigeria are outlined in easily digestible points in the paragraphs that follow 

What is an NGO?

The United Nation defined NGO as a “not-for-profit”, a volunteer citizens group, which is organized on a local, national, or international level to address issues in support of the public good”

From the definition above you will see that an NGO is a body that does acts of kindness without the intention of making money out of it.

Classification of NGO

They are classified in two ways, firstly, based on their activities and secondly based on their orientation.

Classification of NGOs based on their orientation

1. Empowering 

These NGOs major in activities that empower the marginalised through sensitisation and skills development

2. Charitable

The NGOs are in charge of everything, they supply whatever help or support they have to the beneficiaries with little to no effort from them.

3. Service

They are NGOs that offer services such as health and sensitisation

4. Participatory

The beneficiaries play a major role in this case, they can support an NGO project with cash, in kindness or services

Other classifications of NGOs are based on operation and sector.

Examples of classification based on the operation are 

  1. Community-based organisation
  2. National Organisation
  3. International Organizations

While examples of classification of NGOs based on the section are 

  1. Environmental NGO
  2. Educational NGO
  3. Health NGO

.

Why start an NGO in Nigeria

There’s a popular saying that ” when the purpose of a thing is not known abuse is inevitable”, therefore,  it’s important you know the function of an NGO and to evaluate yourself to find out if you want to start an NGO in Nigeria.

The NGO you are starting needs to  fulfil one or all of the following purposes

  1. Dialogue facilitation
  2. Research
  3. Circulation of information
  4. Advocacy
  5. Skill acquisition and capacity building
  6. Infrastructure development

1. Dialogue facilitation

It is the bridge between Government and the people, they communicate with the people and return to the Government to give reports on their needs. The government will now use the information to make projects that meet the needs of the people.

2. Research

NGOs can also focus on making research in a particular field to discover the source of a problem or problems and also proffer a solution to that problem.

3. Circulation of information

Sometimes information doesn’t disseminate properly from Government to the people, an NGO can take the responsibility of informing the people about Government policies, schemes and programs

4. Advocacy

NGOs can stand in for people whose voice is not heard, people who are marginalised or denied their rights. They do that in different ways, some of which are participating in policy formation and rallies.

5. Skill acquisition and capacity building

Some people are lacking in knowledge, and skills or some of them just need empowerment.

Their lives can experience a complete turnaround when they are equipped with the right skills and are also empowered.

6. Infrastructure development

Land can be acquired by NGOs and used to build infrastructures like schools, hospitals, boreholes, and public toilets for the people to use.

These are the key functions of an NGO, therefore your NGO is supposed to be touching lives through at least one of the aforementioned points.

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Since you now know why you should start an NGO in Nigeria, it’s time to learn how to start one

How to start and register an NGO online in Nigeria 

1. Set your board of members

The board of members are the people who will make decisions, and formulate policies and operational guidelines for the NGO.

Therefore, you need to choose carefully who you want to be on your team; the people with the right expertise and experience.

And importantly, people with passion like you, those that want to help humanity.

The board of members are expected to be diplomatic, gender-sensitive, strategic and able to represent the NGO whenever there is a need to.

The roles of the board of directors

Roles of NGO members

Photo credit – Hari Srinivas

According to Haris Srinivas, the roles of the board of members of an NGO are 

  1. They link NGOs to relevant stakeholders for project implementation
  2. They propose project ideas or identify proposal calls for the implementation
  3. They assist in fundraising for projects
  4. They assist in publicizing and promoting project outputs
  5. They advanced where relevant, in day to day activities of the NGO
  6. They arbitrate or intervene in organizational or promotional problems as neutral parties
  7. They help find qualified staff members
  8. Ensure compliance with national and regulation laws related to NGOs

The positions of an NGO board of members

The members usually consist of the President, Treasure, Secretary and other strategic positions based on the problems the NGO is solving. The members range from 10 – 15.

2. Establish your vision, mission and constitution

After setting your board of members, the next step is to set a meeting for the establishment of the NGO’s Vision and mission.

The vision is what the NGO aims to achieve or wants to be known for while the mission is the practical steps the NGO must take to attain the vision.

Every member should bring up ideas and a consensus should be reached so that everyone will be carried along. Doing this will make all the members work passionately towards reaching the goals of the organisation.

Also, the constitution of the NGO should be formulated by the board of members.

3. Decide on the business structure to register your NGO online in Nigeria

Before you register your NGO in Nigeria you need to consider the business structure carefully. The body responsible for registering businesses in Nigeria is the Corporate Affairs Commission ( CAC ). 

There are about six business structures you can choose to register your business in Nigeria some of which are sole proprietorship, public limited company, private limited company, a private company limited by guarantee, incorporated trustee and partnership.

Out of these business structures, an NGO can be registered under two, namely; companies limited by guarantee and incorporated trustees.

These two business structures have their distinct features, you will be provided with information about them to aid your decision-making.

The outcomes of registering an NGO as a company limited by law and incorporated trustee are explained in the following subheadings according to u-law.

Registering your NGO in Nigeria online as a company limited by guarantee

This means

  1. The consent of the Attorney-General of the Federation is required before the company can be incorporated at the CAC. However, if the Attorney-General doesn’t give his consent within 30 days. The promoters can place an advert in three national daily newspapers for public objection. If there are no objections, it can be registered without the consent of the AG.
  2. Advertisements must be placed in the newspapers whenever any changes to the constitution of the organisation, the board of trustees or the name of the organisation are proposed
  3. As regards to registration timeline, once all the relevant documentation has been submitted, incorporation can be concluded within 2-3 months.
  4. Trustees cannot receive fees or remuneration, although they are entitled to be reimbursed for costs incurred in connection with the discharge of their duties. 
  5. Members are not financially liable in the event of dissolution.  
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Registering your NGO in Nigeria online as an incorporate trustee

This means

  1. The consent of the Attorney-General of the Federation is not required. 
  2. The returns that are to be filed are like those required of other limited liability companies in Nigeria, for example, annual returns, and returns in respect of changes to the board and company secretary. 
  3. As regards registration, once all the relevant documentation has been submitted, incorporation can be concluded within 3-6 months.  
  4. The directors of the company can be paid sitting allowances and directors fees; however, payment of directors’ fees is discretional, and the director fees shall be paid out of the company’s fund. 
  5. Members are financially liable up to the amount they have undertaken to contribute to the assets of the company in the event of its being wound up. 

Consider the above features carefully before choosing a business structure and then registering your NGO.

4. Register your NGO online in Nigeria

The corporate affairs commission ( CAC ) has made it easy for people to register their businesses and NGOs online through their website.

The steps to do so are 

  1. Conduct availability search
  2. Advertise your NGO registration
  3. Submission of form

1. Conduct name availability search

You will need to verify if your proposed NGO name is available for you to adopt, you will search for it under the public search section.

If it’s not available you will have to use another name because two businesses can’t have the same name.

2. Advertise your NGO registration

You will need to publicise your NGO registration in 3 Nigerian newspapers, one of which must be local, so it can be disseminated within the location you want to host the NGO.

3. Submit your registration form and documents

You will be required to fill out a form and submit some documents.

The documents required are 

  • A Formal letter of application
  • Two copies of the Applicant’s constitution
  • Two copies of the application form signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the body or association
  • Extract the Minutes of the general meeting appointing the trustees, listing all members present and the voting pattern.
  • 2 Passport photographs of the Trustees
  • Residential Addresses and Signature of the Trustees on the Application form.
  • Trust declaration form duly deposed to by each trustee in the High Court of Nigeria
  • Evidence of property acquisition for the organization or undertaking instead of the property acquisition.
  • The impression of the common seal of the association on the Application form.
  • Extract of the Minutes of the meeting where the special clause rule was adopted into the constitution of the organization; signed by Secretary and Chairman.
  • Original Newspaper publication
  • Bank draft for the prescribed fee.

5. Register your NGO with regulatory bodies in Nigeria

The regulatory bodies NGOs are to register with are 

  • Special Control Unit agency money laundering
  • Federal Inland revenue service
  • National planning commission

All NGOs in Nigeria must register with the Special Control Unit Agency Money Laundering to ensure their money activities are transparent.

Registration with the National planning commission( NPC )is required for NGOs with parent entities that are Foreign Non for profit. 

Finally, all NGOs in Nigeria must register with the Federal Inland Revenue Service ( FIRS).

6. Fundraising

Funding is the bloodline of an NGO because without money you won’t be able to achieve your goals and dreams for the organisation.

Types of donors

There are four types of donors

1. Individuals

There are people with a passion for humanity that will give to any humanitarian cause. If they believe in your NGO’s vision they will give continuously.

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2. International donors 

There are international bodies like UN agencies, international religious organizations, and larger international agencies that can donate to smaller NGOs

3. Corporations

These are businesses and private firms that donate to NGOs; they do it as a corporate social responsibility.

4. Foundations

Foundations are bodies formed by individuals or companies to give to a particular cause. You can make research and locate a foundation that has a passion similar to yours to seek funds.

The above are the types of donors that can support your NGO but if you are looking for other ways to get funding consider the sources explained below

Sources of funding

1. Event 

Organise fundraising events for people and donors to give.

2 Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding allows a large number of people to give to a particular cause. You can use a website to get funds through crowdfunding.

3. Donation boxes 

Placing donation boxes in strategic places will give people the opportunity to give to your NGO

4. Membership

You can create a membership forum for people with the same passion as you to pay a monthly, quarterly or yearly membership fee. 

Before you start looking for funds you need to plan how you intend to spend the money when you get them, seek prospective donors and consider how effectively you have used the funds you have gotten previously.

Making a good fundraising plan will help guarantee that your business will always have money to carry out projects.

7. Uphold high values

When your NGO starts growing and you are getting funds from many sources, don’t be sidetracked, still, focus on achieving that noble cause.

There are values every NGO needs to uphold and that’s what will be discussed in this session.

1. Transparency 

Donors should be able to see how their donations are being used. Be open and honest in all your dealings.

Let stakeholders easily have access to your NGOs activities and you must explain in simple terms how you use funds in your NGO.

Being transparent will make donors trust you, this could lead to greater opportunities.

2. Accountability

You must be able to account for every penny given to your NGO. Let people know that you are fully using the money for what it is meant for.

Failure to be accountable could lead to distrust and the loss of donors.

8. Design a website and create social media accounts

We are in the 21st century and a lot of things have changed, many people are online. Therefore, going where the people are is common sense.

And to do that you need to create a website that will display what your NGO is all about so people can get to know about what you are doing.

With a website, you will be able to showcase past events, upcoming events, gallery, your vision, mission, staff and a lot more.

Creating a website is not as difficult as it may appear, with the technology of website builders like OLITT, you can design your website within a few hours.

Alternatively, you can buy hosting from Truehost for a web designer or developer to create one for you.

Finally, you need to be active on social media, so people can engage with your brand, support it and promote it.

Conclusion

You need to put a lot of things in place before you start and register your NGO online in Nigeria, it requires a lot of brainstorming.

But if you are passionate and also have a good team around, even the most difficult task will become easy for you.

Don’t wait too long before you start, take the bold step today and remember, you need to create an online presence for your NGO. Don’t forget to design your website when you get started.

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