Many people become inspired after seeing the world around them and wanting to make a difference. Sometimes their eyes are opened by a news article, other times, it’s a close friend or family member who awakens a need for change. There are many things to consider before venturing out into the world of charity foundation.
The first questions you need to ask yourself are about the causes you want to support. Make sure you have a clear direction about what you hope to accomplish and list all your goals, short- and long-term. Ask yourself to be honest about why you are passionate about a cause. You need to go through this lengthy self-exploration at the onset before you become fully invested in any projects.
With any luck, you will already have the resources you need to back your endeavors. If not, it’s important to consider the methods you will need to employ to reach other contributors, as well as the demographic you should be targeting. If you are interested in clean energy, the last thing you want to do is contact an oil magnate. Find others who are in line with your belief system.
Public perception is everything when it comes to marketing, even in the world of philanthropy. Once you have established your cause and your mission, it’s time to choose a name and logo that makes people want to join your cause. Some organizations, like the American Cancer Society, are named after the disease, others try to honor revolutionaries in the field by naming the charity after them. When you do register with the IRS, make sure to register as a non-profit organization so you will remain tax-exempt. Unless you are an experienced tax attorney or accountant, make sure you hire professionals to draft up your paperwork.
In addition to a catchy name, it’s important to set yourself apart from your competition in other ways as well. There are over 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. and many people get donation fatigue very easily. People also like to stick with things that are familiar, so it can be difficult to change their minds about the usual recipients of their tax-free generosity.