How to Start a Charity: A Brief Guide

If you’re really passionate about a specific cause, it might be the right time to start a charity in that field. The problem is, a lot of people don’t know where to start and what to do. If you want to know how to start a charity, this article is for you!
In today’s guide, we’ll walk you through all the necessary steps that you need to take in order to get your charity up and running. Let’s jump right in!

Step 1: Know Your Charity's Field

The first step in the process of starting your own charity is to know more about the field your charity is directed at. Knowing about the field can be done in a wide variety of ways. For instance, you should research the charities that exist in such a field and learn about what they do and the structure at which they operate. Additionally, if you’re establishing a charity to fight a specific disease, you need to educate yourself about it and the possible ways to help those who are suffering from it. This will help your future charity to offer something unique, which gives you a higher recognition, and therefore, more donations.

Step 2: Define Your Plan, Mission, and Goals

Now that you’ve learned more about your charity, it’s time to lay your charity’s mission and goals out as well as your plan to help. Your mission is the statement used to quickly inform potential donors and contributors about the charity, so it should concise. As for the plan, a lot of successful organizations implement a 5-year plan system where they lay out their strategies for fundraising, budget management, and channels where the donations are spent.

Step 3: Pick a Suitable Name for the Charity

Picking a name for your charity might sound like a simple task but that doesn’t make it any less important than any other step. After all, your charity’s name is the introductory point to your nonprofit and it needs to be informative and simple. Since there are more than 1.4 million charities in the United States alone, you’ll need to make sure that the name is not taken by other organizations or businesses. You can check that with your state as well as the Department of Commerce.
Although this step is fairly optional, it’ll save you a lot of time and effort in addition to providing you with a professional opinion about everything related to your charity. Ideally, you should hire both a lawyer who specializes in registering organizations and nonprofit laws as well as an accountant who will manage all the financial aspects of the charity.

Step 5: Gain Your Tax Exemption Status by the IRS and State

One of the most important steps to register your charity is to gain the 501(c)(3) status. This one refers to a specific code used by the IRS for non-profit organizations that are exempted from taxes. You should also contact the legal authorities in your state to find out whether you need any special permits to run a nonprofit. You might also need to apply for the EIN, which stands for the Federal Employer Identification Number by filling out the SS-4 form in the IRS. Luckily, your attorney and accountant should make these processes much easier and more streamlined.

Step 6: Raise Awareness and Launch a Website for Your Charity

Since a nonprofit’s main source of income is donations from the community, you’ll need to raise awareness about your cause and make it easier for individuals and organizations to donate to your charity.
The best way to do this is by launching a website. Luckily, launching a website became much easier than it used to be and many website hosting services now offer website builder tools that can help you create a professional-looking website without needing to hire a web developer, such as Bluehost and HostGator.
Don’t forget to also use social media accounts to reach out to more people and link out to your website where people can find out more and donate to your cause.

Step 7: Start Raising Funds and Grants for the Charity

While you might need to fund your charity on your own, a successful charity should always have various sources of donations and funds.
Fundraising is the most challenging part for any charity and you should expect it to take you long hours of presentations, calls, meetings, and more in order to raise funds for your charity.
You can also learn more about necessary skills to land donations, grants, and funds through various online courses and experts on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Step 8: Find Volunteers and Start a Board of Directors

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to run your charity on your own, and soon enough, you might need to hire employees to help you with the management of the nonprofit.
Make sure that you find and hire volunteers who believe in the cause and start to assign roles and start a board of directors. Those who join the board of directors should preferably have some previous experience in charity work.
Always make sure to consult both your attorney and accountant before dealing with any money that you’re going to receive from donations or funds. This also applies to giving out any salaries because it might affect your tax exemption status.

Step 9: Begin Your Charity Operations

Now that your charity is up and running, you’ll need to be patient before you start receiving funds and donations.
Make sure that you begin your charity operations as soon as possible and let the donors know to earn their trust and encourage them to donate again.


There you have it! A brief guide with everything you need to know if you want to start a charity.
Make sure that you research the community in which your charity is directed so that you have a better idea about the nature of this field and the best ways your charity can help.
Also, you should know that it might take your organization some time to find its way to donations and fundings, so you have to be patient and always hope for the best!