Starting a charity can be a great way to support your cause and make a difference. However, launching a successful charity isn’t always easy. Running a charity is a bit like running a business – you need to market it and manage its finances efficiently. Below are a few steps to help you start a successful charity.
Identify Your Cause
The first important step is to identify a cause and a clear mission. The more unique your cause, the better – there’s less incentive for people to donate to your charity if there are already similar successful existing charities in place, so you need to think about how your donations can be used in a specific way. This could include focusing on your local area or catering to a specific demographic of people.
Develop Your Brand
A charity needs a memorable brand name. Many people name charities after an influential person or loved one as a tribute to them, however there could be other ways of naming your charity that could equally have a special meaning behind them. Once you have a brand name, consider a logo and brand colors. This should represent your cause in some way.
Build a Web Presence
The next step is to build a website and social media pages. These digital elements are key to helping you connect with people and for proving your legitimacy. Set aside a budget for building your website. There are web design agencies that cater towards nonprofits that may be able to build an effective website and even help you with elements like SEO. You may also want to pay for professional photos or videos to use on your website and social media pages.
Recruit Your Trustees
Your trustees are the people who will help run your charity – including making decisions such as where to spend money. These should be people who are equally passionate about your cause and who are willing to put in the time and effort to help your charity thrive. Trustees are typically volunteers, but there are instances where you can pay trustees (something you may want to get professional advice on).
Understand Compliance and Tax
Talking of professional advice, there are many elements of starting a charity where it’s worth investing in some third-party expert guidance. This includes knowing how to keep your charity compliant and understanding when to pay tax (most charities are exempt, but there are situations where transactions may be taxable). There are consultants out there that can help you when setting up a 501(c)(3) startup. Make sure to invest in their help so that you can be certain everything you are doing is legal.
Set Up a Charity Bank Account
You will need to set up a bank account for accepting donations and charity spending. This should be a bank account that is specialized to charities rather than a general business account. Banks can help you when choosing these accounts.
Register Your Charity
It’s vital that you register your charity before you start accepting any donations. All charities are registered on a federal level in order to be tax exempt, however in some states you may also be required to register on a state level. Nonprofit consultants can help you with this.