How to Start a Charity from Scratch


A lot of people are thinking about the idea of dedicating themselves to their passion and many wonder about how to start a charity. Most of us are dreaming of a personal project to which we wish we could dedicate all our energy and time, but very few have the courage to actually get started on this challenging, but also a rewarding adventure.

If you want to know more about how to start a charity foundation, you’ve come to the right place! First of all, you should know that this is not an easy job and it requires determination and countless hours spent working on how to start your charity and how to develop and maintain it to reach your goals. There are many types of charities, but the main two categories are non-profit and for profit foundations.

If you are wondering how to start a nonprofit charity or thinking about how to start a for profit charity, follow our 8 simple steps and you will become the proud owner of a successful charity that will fulfill your lifelong dream.

Charitable DonationsHow to Start A Charity in 8 Simple Steps

1. Create and Develop Your Unique Vision

Before even thinking about starting your own charity, you should have a clear mental picture of what your charity will be. Are you interested in saving wildlife or is your heart set on helping preserve the rainforest? Is your goal fighting for human rights or maybe providing resources for poor communities? Whatever you choose to concentrate on, know that there are millions of causes out there and they all try to access funds, so your charity should be the embodiment of your own personal view.

After you’ve decided what issue or issues your charity will be dealing with, you need to transform your ideas into a real, cohesive and unique vision. You have to be able to present your idea to anyone in just a few words and they should immediately know what you aim to do. Remember that learning how to start your own charity is not that difficult, but making sure you get funding in such a highly competitive environment is. Be specific, be unique, and be original!

2. Find The Perfect Name

The second step in your project on how to start a charity organization is to come up with a great name. It might sound cynical but your charity will have to fight for funds with a lot of other organizations dedicated to the same cause, so you need to make sure that your charity startup has its own identity. You can achieve this by choosing a perfect name that suggests your ambitions, plans, and goals. The Make A Wish Foundation and the World Wide Fund for Nature are both powerful organizations with equally powerful names.

It’s a tough thing to get right, but everyone knows how vital it is to create the best name for your charity. You can start by making a list of words that come to mind when you think about your future charity and then work with them. You can be original and combine two words or use abbreviations, but whatever you do, make sure you come up with a clear, appropriate and powerful name. Remember that it will stick with you and it will embody your charity’s identity forever, so choose wisely.

Charity Work3. Make Your Charity Stand Out

How do I start a charity? If this is the question you are asking yourself, then you should think again. The best question to ask is how do I start a successful charity? This is the main goal; ensuring that you will be able to run an effective charity through which you can bring changes in the world. To achieve this remarkable goal, you must create and develop a charity that stands out from the crowd.

Look at it as a product, no matter how harsh this might sound. Your charity, the project you have put your time and resources in, has to earn money in order to be successful. You need donations and funding if you want to be able to help others. Your charity is competing with the Red Cross, Save the Children and Unicef, do you think it can stand in the same ring with these gigantic organizations?

4. Write A Comprehensive Plan

This is where people usually get discouraged because this is the moment when the real work begins. How to start a nonprofit charity seems like a relaxing endeavor for dreamers? Well, you should know that your charity is just like any other business, so you have to treat it the same. Get your paperwork in check and start writing a comprehensive, developed and coherent plan for your charity.

The plan should include the following topics explained clearly:

  • What is the name of your charity?
  • Why did you choose this specific issue?
  • What is the solution your charity proposes?
  • What are your short term and then long term goals?
  • What are your strategies for implementing your ideas?
  • What is your present budget?
  • How are you going to raise the rest of the necessary funding?
  • What is the total sum you need to implement your projects?

After you have answered all these questions and explained your vision and motivation, you should end up with the main structure for your plan. Develop it into a cohesive document that you can present to possible donors, volunteers, and partners. Here are some of the documents that you may need to draft when you’re starting your charity:

Articles of Incorporation

These are usually the documents that establish the foundation of your organization. You can find form examples and templates online. Check with the Secretary of State website to find out which of these documents you will require. These documents and templates may vary from one state to another.

Organization Bylaws

The bylaws are the rules and regulations that will govern your organization and they are an important part of your organization’s portfolio. You can find bylaw document templates online. The sets of bylaws that you establish should define your organization’s decisional process, administrative figures, and governing structure.


5. Get registered

If you are starting a non-profit charity, the first thing you will need to do will be to get it registered. To do that you’ll have to obtain an IRS code that gives you permission to operate as a nonprofit organization. This IRS code will also ensure that your organization will be tax-exempt. Check with a lawyer and a nonprofit specialized accountant before getting started, so you know all the laws and regulations. They will guide you through this process and they will ensure that all governmental laws are respected. Here are the most important steps you will need to take to register your charity:

Non-Profit Organization Application Packet

After completing the articles of incorporation we have detailed earlier, you will need to submit them to your Secretary of State as part of a non-profit organization application packet. As a non-profit organization is considered a corporation, you will need to submit the paperwork to the corporations division within the Secretary of State’s office. You can check the Secretary of State website to find out which documents your non-profit organization application packet will have to contain.

Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number

The Federal Employer Identification Number will be used by the IRS to identify your organization as far as tax purposes as concerned. You will need to supply the EIN number for most of the documents that you’ll be asked to submit, so it’s important to apply for one as soon as possible. You can call, email, or fax the IRS and request that an EIN number be assigned to you. You will need to complete an IRS Form SS-4 to apply for this number.

File a Request for Recognition as a Charitable Organization with the IRS

You will need to file a request with the Internal Revenue Service for recognition as a charitable organization. This will ensure that your organization is tax-exempt once your application is accepted. You can find charitable-organization application packets online to help you get the necessary documents together. You will also need to file an IRS Form 1023 in order to request your organization’s tax-exemption. The articles of incorporation and the bylaws must be accepted by the Secretary of State’s office before you can apply for a federal charitable organization status.

6. Develop a Professional Website and Social Media Accounts

The online presence of your charity foundation is vital. How to start a charity website should be your new concern. Hire professional developers and explain your vision to them. You can then trust them to come up with the best solution for your website. Just like your name, your charity site is an important part of the organization’s identity so make sure you invest in a great looking, efficient website. It will pay off in the long run, so don’t settle until you are 100% sure this is the best site for your foundation.

Use digital media outlets and maximize the efficiency of social media platforms to your organization’s advantage. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube can be powerful communication tools. You can use these web platforms to communicate with others, raise awareness to your cause, and draw attention to your organization’s events and fundraisers. Establishing

7. Start the Fundraising Process

After you have gathered all the necessary papers, you have created your identity and you have set up your website, your charity is almost ready to begin operations. What else is there? You need money first. Your adventure towards your main goal of how to start a charity just got to the most important stage: the funding process.

To obtain the necessary funds you need to be prepared to knock on doors multiple times and remain persistent. A good trick is to look at your charity just like you would look at any other business. You are offering a product in exchange for donations. Your charity should be the most remarkable product in its field of activity, so make sure you or your PR is able to clearly present the work of your charity.

8. Get Started!

After you have followed all the 7 steps presented above, you are ready to get started. Take your time to enjoy the results of your efforts and then get to work with your team and organize the best events to popularize your charity and make it a successful project. You have managed to turn your dream into a reality and this means you are now able to produce the changes you were hoping to see in the world. How to start a charity organization is no longer a mystery to you so congratulations.

Inspiring Success Stories from Around the World

If you’re looking for some inspiration to help you get started, we’ve added some success stories that will certainly give you a motivation boost and encourage you to start working on your dream charity. Here are charities and non-profit organizations that managed to change the world for the better one small act of kindness at a time. These ambitious projects grew from small organizations into the worldwide beacons of hope that they are today. Here are just a few inspirational stories we found:

The Make a Wish Foundation – the Make a Wish Foundation idea started from the genuine desire to make life better for children with life-threatening medical conditions by granting them a wish. It has grown into an international effort that strives to do more every day.

P.E.T.A –the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization is the largest animal rights organization in the world at the moment, relying on the support and efforts of more than 5 million members and supporters worldwide. It advocated for the humane treatment of animals everywhere and has managed to make significant changes to animal rights laws throughout the years.

The Red Cross –the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, an internationally-known humanitarian institution that provides assistance in a wide range of humanitarian causes worldwide. It has been dedicated to providing hope and help to those in need for more than 153 years.

We have endeavored to answer the question how to start a charity from scratch. The most important step is getting started and asking for help or advice. Your desire to change the world will motivate and inspire you in all your tasks!

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