Starting a charity can be an enriching experience, but it’s also a lot of work. Many people are drawn to the idea of starting a charity because they want to make a difference in the world, but they don’t know where to start. A cause can inspire them they’re passionate about but don’t know how to turn that passion into a sustainable and effective nonprofit organization.
If you’re thinking about starting a charity, here are a few steps to get you started.
1. Define your charity’s purpose.
The first step in starting a charity is to define its purpose. Why does your charity exist? What problem are you trying to solve? What population do you serve? Your charity’s purpose should be clear and concise. It should be something that can be easily communicated to others.
This purpose will be the foundation of your charity and will guide all of your decisions, so it’s essential to take the time to define it clearly. You can try brainstorming with a group of people interested in your charity or writing down your thoughts on paper. You should also consult with experts in the nonprofit sector to get their input on your charity’s purpose.
2. Research the need for your charity.
Of course, you can’t start a charity without first determining whether there’s a need for it. After you’ve defined your charity’s purpose, you should research the need for your services. Start by looking at existing data on the problem you’re trying to solve. This data can come from government sources, research reports, or surveys.
You can also talk to people affected by the problem your charity seeks to solve. These individuals can give you insights into the problem that data can’t provide. Their stories will also be helpful when you’re fundraising and marketing your charity. Ask them about their specific challenges and how your charity can help address them.
3. Develop a business plan.
Even if you are starting a nonprofit organization, you will still need to develop a business plan. This document will outline your charity’s goals, strategies, and, most importantly, your finances. Your business plan will be essential when you start fundraising for your charity.
When creating your business plan, include a section on your marketing and fundraising strategies. This will help you attract potential donors and investors. You should also have a section on your operational costs, such as staff salaries, office expenses, and program costs.
Because you will be dealing with money from funds, donations, and grants, you will also need to create financial projections for your charity. An expert charity accountant can help you with this task. They can also advise you on how to set up your financial systems and processes once your charity is up and running.
4. Choose a legal structure.
The next step in starting a charity is to choose a legal structure. Several options are available, and the right one for your charity will depend on several factors. These include your charity’s size, purpose, and whether you plan to have paid staff.
The most common legal structures for charities are nonprofit corporations and trusts. Nonprofit corporations are the most popular option for charities. They offer limited liability protection for directors and officers and allow your charity to apply for tax-exempt status. Trusts are less common but may be a better option for smaller charities.
You should consult a lawyer when choosing a legal structure for your charity. They can help you understand the pros and cons of each option and recommend the best one for your particular situation.
5. Register your charity.
After you’ve chosen a legal structure for your charity, you will need to register it. This process varies depending on your country and state, but it usually involves filing the necessary paperwork and paying the fees. You may also need to register your charity with your local government. This is typically required if you want to solicit donations from the public.
When registering your charity, you must provide basic information, such as your charity’s name, contact information, and purpose. You may also be required to submit your business plan, financial projections, and other documents. But a lawyer can help you with this process. Ask them to review your paperwork before submitting it to ensure everything is in order.
Starting your own charity is a big undertaking but can be immensely rewarding. These steps can help you give back to your community and make a difference. Contact a lawyer specializing in charities and nonprofit organizations if you have any questions. They can provide the guidance you need to get your charity up and running.