According to a September study by Civic Ventures, a San Francisco-based think tank, more than 12 million Americans from 44 to 70 years old would like to start nonprofits or businesses that solve social problems. Among the most popular causes given were social services, economic development, and health care. Read More.
While I applaud our entrepreneurial spirit and am the first to acknowledge that innovation comes from all sources, the coordination of efforts among nonprofits is a significant issue and most new, small nonprofits are more likely to further splinter the community's efforts than to advance the work, in total.
For 2012, I would offer an alternative resolution - go get deeply involved with an existing nonprofit that works in the area that you are passionate about. You can find them by checking the 211 database at www.Connect2Help.org or at www.Guidestar.org or calling the Volunteer Center at United Way at 317-921-1271 or http://www.uwci.org/index.asp?p=55. There are organizations who need board members, marketing and fund raising volunteers, financial professionals and other key skill sets in addition to hands-on roles with youth, the elderly, and everyone in between. Even if you decide to start a nonprofit later you will be far better prepared.
In summary - If you want to work hands-on with a particular group of people, kids, the elderly, the homeless - join forces with an existing nonprofit as a volunteer or staff member. If you want to spend your time and energy on administration, meetings, and fund raising - start a nonprofit.