Can I Start My Own Charity?

December 15, 2021

If you often work with charities, such as a volunteer, you might have an idea for your own. You might feel strongly about a cause and have a great idea for a charity, but knowing the first steps to take can be tough. Here’s how to get started.

Be The Change-Maker

Identify the exact need you want to address and why. Research the need thoroughly. What is causing the issue, how serious is it, and what will solve it? Think about the key questions: what, who, where, when, and how? Think about scale. Will it be local, national, or global?

Identify The Solution

Find a unique solution that will solve the problem you want to address and that, if you deliver it with a new charity, will be effective than previous attempts and attract investment. 

Find out if charities, institutes, statutory bodies, local groups, or global NGOs are already trying to solve the issue. If someone is, talk to them. Could support each other or partner up? If your solutions is as simple as providing personal or company funding, then make sure your funds will actually make a difference and that setting up a charity is the best model, financially. If nobody seems to be addressing this need, go ahead with your research. 

Map Your 3-10 Year Journey

Include all the details of your first year of activity. What are going to do and when? What is the overall vision, and what small steps will you need to take to get there? Do you want to launch straight away? You can start helping, but hold off a formal launch for a while until you are sure you have a strong plan for financing your work and a strong board in place. 

Plan Your Fundraising

If you need to raise money, think about where it will come from, how you will raise it, and how much money you need to get started. Do plenty of research and ask people in similar charities what works for them. Decide what you think will work for your charity. Will you ask for donations from individuals, charitable foundations, or corporate funders? Find out how much these people are likely to give and when. What will you need to invest in order to raise funds, and who will underpin that investment? 

Find A Friendly And Pro Bono Business Finances Mentor

Look at the big picture as well as the detail. VAT, cash flow, and investment can be confusing if you’re not familiar with accounting. If your expected income is going to be low, you may be able to set up as an unregistered charity, which gives you more flexibility, and less administration. Research first, so you know. 

As a registered charity, you need to know who audit charities, and will have to provide detailed, publicly-available information about your finances, activities, trustees, impact, and more. You might want to set up a company first, which can then be registered as a charity.

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