Starting a non-profit can be an exciting and rewarding venture. You might have a cause in mind as the subject of the charity; however, that is only one job on the task list. To actually get a non-profit up and running, there are a few things to put in place to get things goings in the right direction. This post will take you through five essential tasks that you can’t skip over if you want to have success.
Defining your cause is paramount to any non-profit. Without a clear, precise message no one will be able to understand your mission. Every charity stands for something. They are advocates for raising awareness of unjust causes and the face of movements lacking the proper support and attention. So your cause needs to be laid bare in tailored language that is universally accessible.
So, how do you do this? You need a mission statement. A mission statement sets out who and what you stand for, and why you are trying to raise both funds and awareness on that matter. It also suggests how you are going to achieve your goals, and when you want to make these changes. Alongside your mission statement, you can create a condensed tagline of sorts that has a few keywords and buzz phrases to keep people focused.
Who are you trying to address? This question needs answering so that you can adjust your strategies for particular groups of people. Different causes relate to different people so it’s important to account for this. You can do this in several ways:
Focus Groups: These are groups of random people brought together to test responses to potential products and ideas. Focus groups can be utilized for research purposes, e.g., to find out how people of different ages with varying social backgrounds respond to your cause. These responses are recorded and the data is then analyzed to see where the best response was. This data then enables you to build a targeted marketing strategy.
Data Audits: Look at the donor profile to figure out who is donating and whether or not there is a pattern. Certain charities attract certain profiles therefore it is essential to establish any trending data to focus on more potential successful areas moving forward.
Market Research: Market research leads from focus groups. This can be on social media, in-person fundraising initiatives, or grand-scale events to raise awareness. All these things can show where your gaps are, what needs improving, and who is engaging with your cause.
A Marketing Strategy
Marketing is a broad concept, and in fact, there are many layers to sift through before you land on what is right for your branch of the charity. Email marketing yields good results with regards to non-profits as it is a way to touch base with your regular (and potential) donors on a regular basis. When a person signs up with their email address, they then receive a weekly (or monthly) newsletter with updates from your team around what you have been doing and why. This enables people to see where their money is going and what their recent actions have been. Aside from email marketing, you can also use social media and a blog to post relevant content and charity updates. This is a direct line of communication with your audience and can keep things up to date and more personal.
The Legal Bit
To operate legally as a charity you need to become registered with the government. To do this, check out your local government’s website which will have all the information you need to comply with regulations and understand how you are allowed to operate within the law. The basic requirements are usually that you must:
- Have no political affiliation in your work or in what you stand for
- Operate solely for your stated intention
- Avoid over-lobbying
- Be registered legally before any charity operations begin
- Be mindful of tax legislation and where you fall in this category
These are all standard things to abide by and they shouldn’t be hard to achieve once you have your idea on the table.
Most charities operate on a small scale, with there being thousands upon thousands of different types and new ones popping up all the time. These small charities still have to abide by the same rules as the ones that operate on a global scale; it does not matter how small the cause is. If you are taking people’s money for charitable purposes, you have a moral and legal responsibility to deal with the funds accordingly.
Any activities outside of the law will be punishable by incarceration and fines and disbanding of the non-profit. Of course, all charities are allowed to rally for their cause but this has to be done respectfully of people’s time and personal space. As long as you follow the above rules, you won’t run into any trouble.
How to Budget
Budgeting does not come naturally to everyone, but it is essential to have an airtight financial model for your charity. Without it, you are culpable, legally and morally. There needs to be clear donation trails and veritable accounts of where this money goes and when. If you need some help with budgeting, consider using one of these nonprofit budget template options from Givebutter. Givebutter is the go-to arena for everything to do with running a charity. They have a top selection of information guides and everything you need to know about getting started, keeping going, and finding success with your charity venture. Get started with their nonprofit budget template.
Your non-profit’s success will depend on how you decide to run it. The well-known charities are recognized owing to their financial savvy, keen and clear marketing, and the time they take to get to know their target demographic. But you don’t have to be big and famous to have success as a non-profit. There are always new causes to fight for; now is as good a time as any to start something benevolent and amazing.
As an experienced business and finance writer I understand the corporate landscape and the driving forces behind it. Over the years I’ve shared my insight and knowledge with key industry publications and dedicated my time to showing how business leaders can make their organisations more effective.