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How To Start a Charity

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Start-ups are not an uncommon thing to encounter in this day and age, for-profit and non-profit alike. More and more, people are discovering that they have a passion for something—and it’s not the corporate world. In a country where the “pursuit of happiness” is viewed as a right, why not take your passion and turn it into something great?

Unfortunately, running a charity is not so simple as just having a cause and getting donations. Starting one is even more work. But if you have something that inspires you to make change, and are willing to put in the work, it’s certainly possible.

Every charity needs to know its vision and mission. Too often, missions are too broad and immeasurable, and visions are undeveloped. Your mission should be your specific, measurable goals. The vision should be a far off inspiration to aspire to.

Next, you should name the organization either after the cause of in memory of a person who inspired it. Keep in mind that there are millions of non-profits in the US alone. Find a way to make your charity somehow different and appealing to donors.

Make a 5-year plan. Outline fundraising strategies, operational structure, budget, and apply to be a 501(c)(3)—a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. This process can be lengthy and may require the advice of professionals.

Today is all about technology. Create a website to share your cause. Get involved in social media and update regularly. This can be a big help when seeking donations to fund the start-up. It can also help you find others with experience and interest in non-profit operation. You’ll need to put together an (unpaid) advisory board to act as resources and help establish operations.

Once you have raised enough cash to operate for a year or more, you are ready to begin operation. Remember, you’re a start-up, so be frugal. Most of your spending should go toward your mission, with only a small amount going toward operation.

Finally, good luck! It may take some time for things to get going, but remember, “Good things come to those who wait.”