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Starting a charity

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by TigerVols, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    I'll keep it rather vague, but I'm starting a non-profit organization to help meet a need in my community. I've done a good amount of research and I've been approved by some fund-raising organizations, but I thought I'd ask if anyone around here has ever been involved in a start-up charity...and if so, do you have any advice?
  2. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    I'll just go ahead and get this out of the way:

  3. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Circus. Knew it was coming.

    TV, for you my advice would be to make a bunch of little yellow bracelets. You'll make millions.
  4. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    It's hard to say because the specifics dictate a lot.
    In my experience, there's a lot of duplication of effort and, worse, multiple groups trying to get financial support from the same donor base, which further limits effectiveness.

    The first question I always have: Is there already a group in your area doing it?
  5. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    You need to register with the IRS as a 501(c)(3). Probably the biggest headache associated with it all, and depending on what you are doing might require a good accountant and/or lawyer. You are probably going to have to file a 990, or some form of it with the IRS, too each year.

    Running it will depend on the mission, but make sure you find a way to spend at least 80 percent -- at minimum -- on whatever the charity is for. A lot of donors won't look at any charity that doesn't do that well or better.
  6. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    On a serious note, the first thing you should be doing (other than Ragu's tax-related part) is finding a grant writer. Not just a writer, but a grant writer. Maybe you've done some of it before or can teach yourself eventually, but to be good at "grant writing" involves far more than "writing grants." There is the initial letter of interest, a follow-up phone call to find out exactly what kinds of projects the group does or doesn't sponsor, a review of the requirements -- there are often legal things as well as reports that need to be filed periodically showing what you've done with their money. The actual writing comes at the tail end of it. And then it's much like a job application: You have a much better chance of getting it through a contact than by simply filling out a form on the website.

    Someone with experience in the area you're looking at would be great because there are often things hidden under nooks and crannies (and in the government) that you'd never even think to consider. They would also be able to tell you whether you should be going after five $20,000 grants or that big fat $100,000 baby. I don't know if you can find anyone to do it on a volunteer basis, but using some of the limited existing funds on a grant writer would be a sound investment.
  7. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    Good stuff here, thanks.

    I've been approved by a kickstarter-like organization to seek funds with the sole use to go towards hiring an attorney to handle the incorporation and tax issues.

    I'd love to say what need the charity meets but I'll hold my horses pending more information; that said, the people I have talked to about it admit it's rather amazing that nothing has ever been done in the field I'm entering. And the name get's good reviews, too.
  8. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    Invite an attorney (hopefully friend) to be on your board of directors. Whatever the preconceptions about lawyers, they for the most part pay attention to detail and will guide you as to what you can do and what you cannot do. And we do not drag out meetings, we actually want to get it done and move on.
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