Setting up a charity is certainly an admirable endeavor, but it is also a laborious one. From tax matters to financial backing, there is no shortage of red tape to work through. Still, if you have your heart set on creating a charity, it certainly can be done. If you are starting from scratch, here are ten important ways to go about setting up a charity.
1. Create a strong vision
The first step to starting a lasting charity is often creating a strong vision. Name the specific purpose of your charity, figure out who it will serve, and brainstorm ways that you can raise money for the cause.
2. Find out your community’s needs
If you do not want to start from your own vision, take to the streets of your community. Find out where there is a need for more housing, services, or financial support for a particular population. Learning about the gaps in care where you live might point you in the right direction of your vision.
3. Be organized
Starting your own charity requires organization. Either set up meetings with attorneys, mentors, and tax professionals yourself – or task someone you trust to do it. Whether you take on these essential meetings alone or recruit other people, organization will prevent you from missing a piece of paperwork or filing deadline.
4. Invest your own money
Once your vision is clear and you are ready to get up and running, there will no doubt be expenses associated with starting the charity. One way to set up the charity is by investing your own money. Consult with an attorney to determine the tax implications of this method of financing.
5. Get busy fundraising
When you do not have your own money to invest, fundraising is key to the start up process. Anything from a silent auction to large donations from private investors will help you get your charity off the ground.
6. Get support from another charity
You may also want to consider hitching your wagon to another, larger, charity. If you know of a charity for abuse survivors in your area, for instance, it does not hurt to reach out and ask to be affiliated. Established charities can offer a wealth of advice and may have fundraising connections.
7. Find a famous supporter
Putting a famous face on your charity is yet another means of helping the set up process. Being endorsed by a local politician or national figure may help you establish credibility and raise some more money.
8. Put on your networking hat
Going to fundraisers for other charities is a good way to get into the non-profit community in your area. Never pass up an opportunity to learn from another charity organizer or get help organizing your own event. Networking simply helps you get connected to other like-minded people who can help.
9. Take your time
Do not rush the process of setting up a charity. You will need to obtain legal permission to operate, get a federal employer identification number (EIN), and file for recognition as a charitable organization with the IRS. This all takes effort and attention to detail, so give each step the time it deserves.
10. Hire a board of advisers
A board of advisers, who will likely donate their time in the beginning, serves a few purposes. Your advisers may be fiduciaries of your accounts and make other important decisions as needed.
Learning to set up a charity is not an easy task. If you can do it, pat yourself on the back, you’ve accomplished a huge feat!