So you want to start a charity but aren’t yet ready to quit your day job? With some careful planning, a clear focus, and defined boundaries, it is possible to start a not-for-profit organisation in your spare time. Here are six things to consider before diving in.
1. Clearly define your mission
There are around 54,000 registered charities currently operating in Australia. That’s a lot. So, you need to ask yourself what extra value your charity can bring to an already crowded fundraising market. The best approach here is to be as specific as you can, and consider taking a local focus. Look for unserved needs in your own community and think about how you can incorporate potential connections with local associations, such as sports clubs or religious institutions.
2. Limit your scope
Time is going to be an issue for you, so you need to set clear, achievable goals for your new part-time job. It’s always tempting to bite off more than you can chew, so try and stay focused on a single mission – that might be organising one fundraising event per year, or raising awareness for a single, clearly defined cause. You won’t be able to achieve world peace in your spare time, but you can still make a real difference if you don’t try to take on too much.
3. Make it scalable
The beauty of campaigns like ‘Movember’ and ‘Shave for a Cure’ is their scalability. While the non-profits behind these events comes up with the concept and works to promote it, the on-the-ground organisation is actually passed onto the events’ volunteer participants. This kind of business model allows you to expand your reach while strictly limiting yourself to an administrative role, and therefore makes it easier to realise on a part-time basis.
4. Plan for success
A lot of planning is required to register a charity. You’ll need to create a governance document that sets out the rules your not-for-profit organisation will comply with, register your charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), and apply for tax concessions. Allow yourself plenty of time to work through this process before launching your charity publicly.
5. Get your employer involved
Don’t be afraid to ask your employer whether they want to be involved. If a large company, they may be in a position to offer you a grant to cover some of your set-up and operational costs. In a small business, they may be willing to offer you resources, such as computer equipment, or even provide their business expertise to help you get up and running.
6. Manage your time
The last thing you want to do is lose focus on your paying job. That’s why it’s important to set clear boundaries between your professional life and your charity work. Avoid taking calls or answer charity-related emails during your workday, and clearly communicate to your stakeholders or volunteers when you are and are not available to them. Also, to avoid a potential burn-out it’s important you remember to schedule ample time for leisure and relaxation.