So, you want to start a charity? First, think of your motives and goals. Are you doing this to make money or are you doing this to help people? If your answer is to help people, then you are on the right track. It’s alright to get rewarded along the way, but that shouldn’t be the main objective. You can take a salary, but a non-profit organization belongs to the community, not to its creator. Once you’ve got that in mind and have decided what you want to do, it’s time to get it all organized and start your own charity.
Think Outside the Box to Start Your Own Charity
The first thing you should do is find out if a program like the one you have in mind already exists. If so, think about ways to make that idea different. How can your idea benefit people in a different way? The goal of a charity is not to outrun other charities. The idea generally is to help as many people as possible. If you try to run down “competition,” less people might get help. Therefore, your idea should be something that sets itself apart from what is already available.
For instance, there are plenty of charities that revolve around providing free books to kids, but what about starting a charity that works in cooperation with one of those and provides free semester-long tutoring sessions? The same goes for math. Many kids struggle when it comes time to take the state test, particularly in the math and science areas. Schools do have programs in place that help with test-taking skills, but what about extra tutoring throughout the school year? Those are just a couple examples. Let your imagination, skills, and creativity lead to the right choice for your charity.
Take Legal Steps to Start Your Own Charity
There are legal requirements that an organization must adhere to in order to be considered a charity. The IRS is a great place to start when researching that information. The IRS offers information on tax exempt (501c3) status for charities, filing requirements, contributions, and more. You’ll also need to register with your state, not only as a business entity, but as a charitable non-profit solicitor. There must also be a board of community stakeholders. Operating procedures, also called bylaws, must also be written up. Also keep in mind that the records of a non-profit are public records because of the connection with the community. Always be sure all records are made available.
Costs to Start Your Own Charity and How to Find Funding
The costs of your charity are going to vary, depending on the goals and purpose you have in mind. Remember to factor in costs for not only the materials and supplies needed to provide services, but also office supplies, as well as funds to pay any employees. Depending on your charity, startup costs can be minimal to high. Luckily there often are individuals, corporations, and programs willing to help start up charities. A good place to start is your local community action agency. If you don’t know where yours is or how to find it, you can easily look it up by going to CommunityActionPartnership.com. Some other interesting websites to look at when considering funding include Idealist.org and FundsnetServices.com.