There’s a vast number of charity and nonprofit organizations out in the world for various causes, but perhaps you’d like to start your own charity organization. It’s one thing to say you’ll be starting one, but there’s much more to it than saying you’re collecting and fundraising to help others. Doing your research is crucial to making sure you do everything right, but it’s also important to make sure that people want to donate to your charity rather than anyone else’s. How do you go about doing so?
Establish Your Identity and Values
What draws most people to the charities they donate to is the values behind its establishment. What made you decide to start a charity in the first place? Was there none for the cause you want to support, or did something happen to you or a loved one that you don’t think receives enough attention? By making yourself stand out, people will be drawn to you and what you stand for. This isn’t the place to list numbers, but your vision for the future of your charity organization. Make your mission statement stand out with specific, achievable, and challenging goals to aim for, and be clear with what services you’ll be providing, to whom you’re providing to, and how you plan to do so. Your identity also lies within the name of your organization, so make it a good one—charities named for people tend to be the most successful, so keep that in mind when deciding if it’s applicable.
Get Set Up
You won’t get anywhere without setting yourself up for success. Writing down the plan for your organization should be your first step, as it’ll lay out your goals over time for the foreseeable future. A five-year plan is a good starting point for this, and you can list things like strategies, tactics, fundraising strategies, operational strategies, budgets, and so on within it. You’ll also have to make sure you register as a 501(c)(3) with the IRS before you get started. Doing so will list you as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. It’s important not to mess this part up, so it’s advisable to have a lawyer or accountant with you to go over the forms.
While you’ll likely be pouring some of your own income into your organization, fundraising will be a huge help in securing your feet to the ground and getting yourself started. Reaching out to friends and family is alright, but what’ll be more beneficial is garnering support from other organizations, individuals, and foundations. Be sure to set up your website with your plan outline, inspiration, vision, and more, though keeping financial and business plans off your site is a good idea. Once that’s established, you can reach out to grant-making organizations that are focused within the field your charity is. This will take a lot of time, patience, professionalism, and energy, but don’t be discouraged. Establishing an Advisory Board of people with experience in nonprofit, financial, and fundraising work will help to facilitate this.
Get to Work
Once all of this is handled, be frugal and efficient with your money as you get started. Most of all, be patient: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your charity. Save up funds so you don’t start off in debt, and make the dollar stretch as much as you can. Only expand at the rate your fundraising can support to ensure the longevity of your organization. Hang on to the passion that drove you toward starting a charity in the first place, no matter how rough it gets. Never lose sight of it, and you’ll likely be around for a long while.