You’re a passionate member of your community with the desire to help others. You know friends or family members who’d like to make a difference. Where do you go from here? While nonprofits exist in most towns and cities across America, often times, there is a particular cause you’d like to support in depth. Investing your time and resources into a charitable endeavor is a fantastic way to support your community. This guide will be posted in a series of simple steps and will help you turn your aspirations into a reality.
1. Develop a Goal: What Will You Be Doing?
The first step in creating a successful charity is deciding on the overarching goal. Are you interested in service-oriented work in local schools? Or are you more interested in community fundraising? One approach to developing your organization’s mission is to research national and local charities. What events and ideas do you find most inspiring? What secondary goals are you hoping to achieve? By sifting through existing programs, you’ll have a better sense of how successful charities run. The best innovators don’t reinvent the wheel. They simply borrow the design and make their own improvements.
2. Develop a Strategy: How Will I Do This Successfully?
After you’ve had time to work on your goal, you’ll want to brainstorm ways to bring your ideas to reality. It’s not a bad thing to start small at this step. Growth will be the happy consequence of a solid foundation. Begin by mapping out several ways to complete your goal. If your mission is to raise money for caregivers of dementia patients, you might brainstorm the following ideas: host an annual 5k race; start a fundraiser targeting local businesses, deliver meals to families in need. Now, you’ll need to decide. Which one is the most exciting to you? Do you have access to resources or spaces that make one concept more attainable?
3. Think Ahead: What Obstacles Might Stand In My Way?
You are on your way to developing a fantastic project. Before any additional planning begins, it’s a good idea to take the time to “think ahead”. Many organizations suffer from a lack of this pre-planning step. By taking time now to anticipate the future hurdles in your organization, you’ll be able to plan more efficiently. Effective pre-planning will also help support your original goals.
Take time to write out a list of potentially difficult problems your organization might face. For example, compliance might be an issue if your group is hoping to visit local schools and provide tutoring support for students. Why? Many schools require volunteers to complete clearances forms in order to work with children. These forms can often take weeks to process and need to be completed annually.
While you may get discouraged by this answer, it will force you to think outside the box. If schools are difficult places to work, why not try volunteering at a local church or after-school organization. Often, these spaces have more flexible requirements for volunteers.
By adopting a “think ahead” mantra, you’ll avoid unexpected obstacles in the future. Building solutions into your planning process is always an excellent idea!
Congratulations! You are on your way to developing your charity from the ground up. Check back soon for the second installment.