Non-profit organizations have the capacity to help, support, develop and care for their communities and society at large. Deciding what noble cause to pursue is a wonderful conundrum. Non-profit businesses can be chartered to undertake charitable, educational, religious, research, healthcare, community service, public service, humanitarian, industry support, and lobbying functions. A new non-profit has no shortage of opportunities; you just have to decide which issues to tackle.
Several non-profit businesses support other businesses. Many industries have trade associations and professional organizations dedicated to the promotion and development of their field. The Internal Revenue Service classifies these non-profits as business leagues. Organizations of this type include the American Medical Association, the American Speech and Hearing Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Association of Realtors, among many others. There are even organizations, like the Foundation Center, which support other non-profit businesses. Also, chambers of commerce are classic forms of business leagues. If you know an industry or profession which could either benefit from an association or which could use a better association, you could have a very successful non-profit.
It's been said that charity starts at home. Community-based non-profits make up a large portion of America's non-profit industry. Community clean-ups, fundraising efforts for sick community members, efforts to preserve local nature, animal adoption organizations, the bringing of meals to the sick and elderly, educational booster programs, job-retraining programs, homeless shelters and homes for battered women are among the many varieties of community-based non-profits. Your community may have specific needs that are unmet; focus your non-profit to address those needs.
There are groups and classes of people who lack a collective voice. Non-profit organizations can serve as a force to give them one. Organizations such as the American Association for Retired People, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for Women and many others represent classes of society who seek advocacy and support. These organizations benefit their members by creating a community, organizing activism, lobbying and in some cases, like with the AARP, getting their members discounts on commonly used products and services. Identify a group in need of an organized voice and support, and form a non-profit business to support them.