Author Topic: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking  (Read 8395 times)

reverend

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Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« on: August 03, 2012, 12:24:42 AM »
I've always wanted to start a charity.  It may sound sappy and like a crock of sh!t, but I have had an amazingly good live with travel, great friends and experiences. I don't make a lot of money, and I am not particularly excited about what I do for a living.

The last year or two, related to my lacking excitement with work, the idea of starting a charity has grown on me. I've googled, poked and prodded those I know.  Now, there are plenty of charities for cancer research, poor people, children, illnesses and all sorts of things, so I don't know where I could find a bit of a niche where I can do good.

What it boils down to is that I really have no idea (other than theoretical concepts from googling) what all is involved in starting a charity, fundraising and then getting to the great part - helping those in need.

So am I just a sanctimonious bastard for trying to give myself a feel-good karma point by doing something like this? Would I be better off donating to other charities instead? Volunteer or find a paying job for charities? Hospitals?

Has anyone started a charity that pays for itself and enough to sustain your own food and shelter (living wage)?  Care to share the pitfalls and tips/tricks?

I have thick skin, so feel free to tell me it's a boneheaded idea.

gooki

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2012, 01:44:26 AM »
Sounds like a good idea.

My tip on how to find your niche, go out into your community, find people that need help and see if you can help them. After a few months of doing this you'll discover in what ways your help is most appreciated. Then focus on that area, start tracking costs and demand.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2012, 10:53:00 AM »
You don't need to create a charity that is registered ans such. In fact i'd argue that just helping people in a way that just feels right to you. Maybe look into an art/photography project as a way of documenting and educating yourself about the people where you are. I bet after a while you find something that speaks to you as a clear need (maybe over looked, maybe not) and something your skills can contribute to supplying for folks.

$_gone_amok

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2012, 11:00:40 AM »
Starting a charity is not about finding a niche and just go for it. It is about supporting a cause that you are truly passionate about.  If your heart is no behind the cause then the charity is doomed to fail, just like many small businesses.   Do you care for something deeply enough that you are willing to work for free for the first couple years before your funding is stabilized? If so, I say go for it.

James

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2012, 11:07:16 AM »
I take a dim view on starting a charity in order to provide a living wage.  Doesn't mean there isn't a specific situation I might support, but I don't advise it with the information you gave.  I would find a personal way to provide charity right now and maximize that.

shadowmoss

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2012, 11:24:37 AM »
Sounds like you aren't so much wanting to start a charity as start a new business to support yourself that is more exciting than your current job, and that you can get others to donate to your new lifestyle while giving any surplus to, oh yeah, helping others.  First up, I'd think, is working on your marketing.  Not many folks (I'm guessing) will donate to you just because you want a more exciting job.  Then again, you wouldn't be the first one to use charity and fundraising as primarily a means to provide for yourself.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2012, 11:31:17 AM »
I also take exception to the idea of starting one with the caveate of providing a living wage.   You should be starting a charity to support and provide for a cause that is meaningful to you and for which you are passionate about.  And if you are not FIRE then it should involve you spending your off hours on the cause to build and develop it and if it ever grows to a point that is so large that it requires so much more of your time then you should be thinking about the living wage piece. 

There are many charities out there where too much of the budget is allocated to administration and fund raising which takes away from the cause itself.

grantmeaname

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2012, 11:39:33 AM »
There are many charities out there where too much of the budget is allocated to administration and fund raising which takes away from the cause itself.
Fundraising is a net profit-making activity, so spending money on fundraising cannot take away from the mission of the nonprofit. That's like saying that selling products takes away from the profitability of Procter and Gamble.

Moreover, fundraising is often part of the mission of the nonprofit: it provides the organization with another way to get in contact with the public and raise awareness of the organization's cause.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2012, 12:06:57 PM »
I didn't really notice the "living wage" bit. I wouldn't do any charity work that my well being was based on. It's a conflict of interest in my view. To make it about making money, even if only enough to barely survive takes away from the work and reduces your joy from the act.

In a lot of ways look at industries like music and video games, lot of kids go into those industries because they fucking love it and once they are hired and are making a living find the whole thing soul crushing. Former professional DJ/performer talking, if i had to do it over i'd only DJ for free. At least then i'd have known what to expect. ;o)

Good luck

tooqk4u22

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2012, 12:12:40 PM »
There are many charities out there where too much of the budget is allocated to administration and fund raising which takes away from the cause itself.
Fundraising is a net profit-making activity, so spending money on fundraising cannot take away from the mission of the nonprofit. That's like saying that selling products takes away from the profitability of Procter and Gamble.

Moreover, fundraising is often part of the mission of the nonprofit: it provides the organization with another way to get in contact with the public and raise awareness of the organization's cause.

I know what you are saying, but the point is still valid that dollars are allocated to and used by fundraising activities, which if successful should produce a net gain.  However, if spending $5 to gain another $5 is the result in a perfect world, which we do not have, I would rather $10 go to the cause. That is all I was saying, but fundraising is unfortunate need.

grantmeaname

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2012, 12:24:56 PM »
An organization wouldn't spend $5 of the $10 you donated to raise $5. Even if they only raised $6 with those $5, though, wouldn't you rather your $10 contribution be leveraged by the organization to raise $11 in support of the mission?

tooqk4u22

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2012, 12:59:23 PM »
No, would rather the $21 go to the mission.

grantmeaname

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2012, 01:03:19 PM »
If you donate the money to the organization and they spend all $10 of it, $10 has gone to the mission.

If you donate the money to the organization and they spend $5 on the mission, then raise $6 with the other $5, and spend that $6 on the mission, $11 has gone to the mission.

Neither one of those involves any $21 sum. I'm confused how the organization is supposed to spend $21 on the mission based on your $10 donation.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2012, 01:12:09 PM »
Quote
wouldn't you rather your $10 contribution be leveraged by the organization to raise $11 in support of the mission?

$10+$11 is $21. 

But even if they spend take my $10, spend $5 to mission and $5 for fundraising to get another $1 for a total of $11. So would I want it leveraged into $6 for the mission when I can have my whole $10 go to the mission?  Also your scenario assumes that ultimately there is there is $11 available for the mission and I would like the whole thing to go to the mission - again this would be in a perfect world, we are not in one of those.

Ignoring that it takes energy and effort to get people to donate (goes to Sol's point on the other thread) please explain to me why you wouldn't want your full $10 dollars to go to the mission and instead half used to create $1 more incrementally but actually yield $4 less for the mission?

grantmeaname

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2012, 01:23:54 PM »
I've read this three times now and I can't even pretend to understand the logic that you used to get where you are now.

reverend

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2012, 01:33:58 PM »
tl;dr - I want to do good, possibly to make myself feel better than in the job I have. Is a charity the way to go? Both to feel good and to make enough to live off of?


grantmeaname

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2012, 01:37:24 PM »
Starting a charity to pay yourself a living wage is a losing proposition. Getting hired at an extant nonprofit, or volunteering full time after you 'retire' from gainful employment could work, though.

reverend

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2012, 01:44:58 PM »
Starting a charity to pay yourself a living wage is a losing proposition. Getting hired at an extant nonprofit, or volunteering full time after you 'retire' from gainful employment could work, though.

Thanks. It's a conundrum. I am not willing to go broke to work a charity, so the suggestion to take off hours to volunteer at one might be the cure for my "wasting time at work" blues.  Then I can see how things go from there.

I'm intrigued by the folks who suggest that charities are dishonest because they pay a living wage.  A little cynical (and I am the king of cynical haha) even to me, but I can only speak for myself.  I think it would be fulfilling work but I have to put food on the table too.

Maybe I'm just a little blue-eyed about the whole thing and maybe it does stem from not being filled with joy at my job. haha

tooqk4u22

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2012, 02:06:47 PM »
I've read this three times now and I can't even pretend to understand the logic that you used to get where you are now.

I guess that is why you are an anthropologist and not a first grade math student. 


James

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2012, 02:27:50 PM »
I've read this three times now and I can't even pretend to understand the logic that you used to get where you are now.

I guess that is why you are an anthropologist and not a first grade math student.


I'm with Grant, I follow his math and logic, but your own is all messed up.  Maybe go back and read through your conversation more slowly.


As far as what I think about it...  If an organization took my $10 and used $5 to raise $6 I'd be unhappy since I know that of the $6 they raised maybe $3 (a made up number) would have been spent for some other charity if not this one.  So they probably decreased money used in actual charity work by $2, despite this particular charity coming out ahead. (It's enough to get your head hurting when you think off all the other issues at play as well)  Anyway, if they used $5 from my $10 to raise $20 or $50, then the math might make me think better of that choice, but that doesn't happen much.  I still give to non-profits who obviously will spent part of my donation raising other donations, but I enjoy it more when I giving money and time directly to those in need.

grantmeaname

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2012, 02:38:25 PM »
Fundraising is absolutely a complex question, and I wouldn't suggest otherwise. I just was trying to point out that no nonprofit would willingly spend more on a fundraising campaign than they would get back, because it's a totally nonsensical way to do business.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2012, 02:48:56 PM »
Starting a charity to pay yourself a living wage is a losing proposition. Getting hired at an extant nonprofit, or volunteering full time after you 'retire' from gainful employment could work, though.

Thanks. It's a conundrum. I am not willing to go broke to work a charity, so the suggestion to take off hours to volunteer at one might be the cure for my "wasting time at work" blues.  Then I can see how things go from there.

I'm intrigued by the folks who suggest that charities are dishonest because they pay a living wage.  A little cynical (and I am the king of cynical haha) even to me, but I can only speak for myself.  I think it would be fulfilling work but I have to put food on the table too.

Maybe I'm just a little blue-eyed about the whole thing and maybe it does stem from not being filled with joy at my job. haha

I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for not having the time now. You'll have it later with FI. Are you willing to trade your FI to help others? To me, if it's not there to spare, that's a lot like donating a kidney when you have only got one to begin with...

reverend

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2012, 02:52:26 PM »
I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for not having the time now. You'll have it later with FI. Are you willing to trade your FI to help others? To me, if it's not there to spare, that's a lot like donating a kidney when you have only got one to begin with...

Good point. Maybe some light humane society volunteer work to make myself feel good and when I'm FI, I can just volunteer there full time. :)


tooqk4u22

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2012, 03:07:57 PM »
 
I'm with Grant, I follow his math and logic, but your own is all messed up.  Maybe go back and read through your conversation more slowly.

As far as what I think about it...  If an organization took my $10 and used $5 to raise $6 I'd be unhappy since I know that of the $6 they raised maybe $3 (a made up number) would have been spent for some other charity if not this one.  So they probably decreased money used in actual charity work by $2, despite this particular charity coming out ahead. (It's enough to get your head hurting when you think off all the other issues at play as well)  Anyway, if they used $5 from my $10 to raise $20 or $50, then the math might make me think better of that choice, but that doesn't happen much.  I still give to non-profits who obviously will spent part of my donation raising other donations, but I enjoy it more when I giving money and time directly to those in need.

I don't mean to confues but my math and logic is not messed up we are simply debating a different issue - in investor speak it is the cash-on-cash vs. leveraged return equation. The part in bold is what I was eluding to that there is $2 lost to the system in your scenario, I would rather the $2 actually go to a cause and a mission even if it is not mine (well probably not, I think I would rather it go to mine) -  but again not practical and maybe not even possible.  People need prodding to donate - whether it be telemarketinng or $1000 a plate dinners.

Fundraising is absolutely a complex question, and I wouldn't suggest otherwise. I just was trying to point out that no nonprofit would willingly spend more on a fundraising campaign than they would get back, because it's a totally nonsensical way to do business.

I would agree that a charity would not intentionally spend more on fundraising than it expects to get back, but there are no guarantees either and there are charities that do lose money in these efforts.  I would also point out that the OP kinda refutes your point that nobody would consider this, say the living wage needed for the OP is $25k then until that point is reached and exceeded all of the fundraising efforts are for naught.


Bakari

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2012, 05:26:47 PM »
I'm going to go ahead and completely disagree with everyone else here.

Of course it is possible - and ethical - to make a full time job out of a non-profit organization.

Few if any charities could function efficiently without at least one full-time staff member.
Especially when it is small and the staff consists of the founder, that person is going to be putting in 60-100 hour weeks, every week, for perhaps a year or two at least, until everything gets established.
To expect that person to do all of this work for free is kind of ridiculous.

To all the people who claim there is something wrong with making a living working for a charity, I would like you to take a closer look at your own favorite charity and find out if they really don't have a single paid staff member.

But to reverend - you would probably go broke.  Those salaries tend to be extremely low, and they are usually 0 for the first few years at least. (assuming it survives longer than that)
You would have to put lots of time and effort into fundraising and grant writing - and you would have to know how to do that before you could even get started.

If you are really serious about doing this someday, the way to get started now would be to volunteer with an existing charity specifically in the grant writing and fundraising departments.  Learn about accounting and what it takes to register 401.c and the specific laws on ethics that apply to using part of donations to pay your own salary when you are the chairman of the board of your own organization.
If possible, find at least one (preferably more) other person who shares your vision (and is willing to work for free at least at first and possibly forever)

And remember - if no one actually took the risk to start charities, there would be none around for everyone else to donate to.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2012, 05:40:13 PM »
I'm going to go ahead and completely disagree with everyone else here.

Of course it is possible - and ethical - to make a full time job out of a non-profit organization.

Few if any charities could function efficiently without at least one full-time staff member.
Especially when it is small and the staff consists of the founder, that person is going to be putting in 60-100 hour weeks, every week, for perhaps a year or two at least, until everything gets established.
To expect that person to do all of this work for free is kind of ridiculous.

To all the people who claim there is something wrong with making a living working for a charity, I would like you to take a closer look at your own favorite charity and find out if they really don't have a single paid staff member.

But to reverend - you would probably go broke.  Those salaries tend to be extremely low, and they are usually 0 for the first few years at least. (assuming it survives longer than that)
You would have to put lots of time and effort into fundraising and grant writing - and you would have to know how to do that before you could even get started.

If you are really serious about doing this someday, the way to get started now would be to volunteer with an existing charity specifically in the grant writing and fundraising departments.  Learn about accounting and what it takes to register 401.c and the specific laws on ethics that apply to using part of donations to pay your own salary when you are the chairman of the board of your own organization.
If possible, find at least one (preferably more) other person who shares your vision (and is willing to work for free at least at first and possibly forever)

And remember - if no one actually took the risk to start charities, there would be none around for everyone else to donate to.

Fair point, I still stand by my assertion that doing so while trying to achieve FI will be hard and low on reward. Working at a charity when you are already FI, sure. I know lot of kids working at Kiva and Wikipedia. There's lots of employees, but they are all working for way below market rate for their skill and already have enough money that that fact doesn't bother them.

Bakari

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #26 on: August 03, 2012, 09:24:09 PM »
Fair point, I still stand by my assertion that doing so while trying to achieve FI will be hard and low on reward. Working at a charity when you are already FI, sure. I know lot of kids working at Kiva and Wikipedia. There's lots of employees, but they are all working for way below market rate for their skill and already have enough money that that fact doesn't bother them.

oh, for sure.
I was just suggesting it isn't unethical to give yourself a living wage out of a charity you found.
A living wage would mean just enough to live on, though, so there would be nothing left over to save and you would never reach FI.

It would definitely make more sense to try for FI first, allowing you to take the major risk of founding a non-profit without the extra personal stress of needing to pay for food.

sol

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2012, 10:38:35 PM »
Sounds like OP just wants a more fulfilling job.  I'm not sure starting a business is the right way to go about it, but it's a pretty clear sign that it's time for a change of employment.

Generally speaking, I've always thought people should do whatever work they think is meaningful, whether it's ladling out soup or designing martian rovers.  If you have a job that you don't believe, you're wasting your  productive hours. 

Have a little faith in yourself.  Unless you suck way more than average, you can almost certainly find another job that utilizes your talents that you would find less soul-crushing.  I'd start with updating your resume before you try to start a charity.

I understand the desire, though.  People generally want their work to be meaningful and rewarding.  If your job is neither, then being in charge of a charity might be pretty attractive.

grantmeaname

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #28 on: August 04, 2012, 08:39:34 AM »
I was just suggesting it isn't unethical to give yourself a living wage out of a charity you found.
I'm not sure who, if anyone, you're disagreeing with. I don't think anyone here ever suggested it was unethical, or that he shouldn't pay himself a living wage for moral reasons. Most of us were just saying that it's impractical to expect it to pay the bills, especially for the first few years which is pretty much your point as well.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2012, 10:15:02 AM »
I was just suggesting it isn't unethical to give yourself a living wage out of a charity you found.
I'm not sure who, if anyone, you're disagreeing with. I don't think anyone here ever suggested it was unethical, or that he shouldn't pay himself a living wage for moral reasons. Most of us were just saying that it's impractical to expect it to pay the bills, especially for the first few years which is pretty much your point as well.

And to elaborate on grant's point, most people here take exception with what sounds like starting a charity to create an income for oneself based on several of the words/statements in the OP.  Just read the OP and smells of incincerity, boredom, guilt, and it may none of those things but it comes off that way. 

reverend

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #30 on: August 05, 2012, 12:13:30 PM »
And to elaborate on grant's point, most people here take exception with what sounds like starting a charity to create an income for oneself based on several of the words/statements in the OP.  Just read the OP and smells of incincerity, boredom, guilt, and it may none of those things but it comes off that way.

I'll have to work on my late-night writing skills. :)   No, I've been a googling fool and with what I'm reading here it appears that going FI first,  then/meanwhile volunteer somewhere and learn the ropes and THEN possibly doing something like this.
Somewhere along the line I'll find more satisfying work for my own peace of mind.

I venture to guess that I was a bit too lofty in thinking that I could do all in one fell swoop.

I should start a charity (ehm... paypal account? hehe) to support my goal, eh?

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Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #31 on: August 05, 2012, 11:40:37 PM »
I know a little about this.

I've been treasurer (and tax prepper) for a small non-profit.  My spouse is a volunteer for a fairly well-known military charity whose staff barely make a living wage ($30K/year or less) but whose CEO makes in excess of $125K/year.  That's what you pay for an exec & rainmaker, but the charity's finances are struggling.

Spouse was also Interim CEO for a charity that has millions of donations every year, a reserve fund in the high seven figures, and a CEO salary of $140K/year.  (She donated her salary during her brief tenure.)  The #2 & #3 employees of that charity earn $100K/year and $75K/year, and #3 probably deserves a substantial raise to attract a qualified exec.

So am I just a sanctimonious bastard for trying to give myself a feel-good karma point by doing something like this?
Well, I don't actually know about that part.  But your heart's in the right place.

Would I be better off donating to other charities instead?
I think so.  See more below.

Volunteer or find a paying job for charities?
That has not been a good experience for either me or my spouse.  I would much rather donate my money than my time.  This is especially true of organizations with dysfunctional employees and/or boards of directors.  You become painfully aware that quality salaries buy quality employees, but I don't know how to solve the directors problem.

Hospitals?
Don't know anything about that.

I have thick skin, so feel free to tell me it's a boneheaded idea.
It's a good idea, but I doubt whether it's what you want to do with your time.  It can work fine when it's done according to state laws and IRS requirements.  But, no surprise here, it's... work.

Has anyone started a charity that pays for itself and enough to sustain your own food and shelter (living wage)?  Care to share the pitfalls and tips/tricks?
I arrived halfway through the process.

DISCLAIMER:  I'm not even an accountant, let alone an expert, and I've only done this once.  I'll describe my experiences and let one of you more credible financial professionals step in where I get it wrong.  Since there are 50 states, there are probably at least 49 other ways than I've seen done. 

First you decide what your charity is going to do (its mission) and make sure it qualifies under the IRS' 501(c) guidelines.  Most non-profits are 501(c)3 organizations. 

Next you register your charity with the IRS for approval.  Most people use a tax accountant and possibly a lawyer for this step, but it's within the capability of a mere mortal who's persistent and willing to slog through a lot of drudgery.  The IRS will eventually award approval subject to five years (!) of probation.

Then you register your charity with the state (annual reports) and set up a non-profit checking account.  (Banks & credit unions may do this for free, but the account will not earn interest.)  Now you're ready to start your fundraising, yay!

Oh, wait.  The IRS wants to make sure that your 501(c)3 is not used as your personal piggybank foundation.  To prove that you're in compliance with the rules for nonprofit charities, your next five years of Form 990 tax returns will document that you've raised the vast majority of your operating funds from sources other than your own assets.  (I'm sure that there's a way to set up your own personal foundation to give your money away while paying you a healthy salary, but I bet it's not tax-deductible.)  Along with this part of the tax return, you have to document your major donors and your major sources of income.  Ironically "non-profit" and "tax-exempt" does not equate to "not paying taxes".  If you have business income unrelated to the charity's mission then you pay tax on that income.  For example, the non-profit I volunteered at collected cans & bottles for the recycle deposit.  Even though the money came from the recycle center with cans/bottles collected by volunteers, and even though the money was used for the non-profit's program expenses, it was still considered unrelated business income and we still payed state/federal tax on it.

Another charity operates a souvenir bookstore at a national monument.  Their mission is to educate the monument's visitors, so everything they sell in the bookstore has to have an educational purpose.  Books, videos, puzzles, board games, kid's models:  no problem.  T-shirts?  Business income.  Key chains & cigarette lighters?  Profitable but not necessarily the image you want to show to the public.  Also business income.

By state law, your foundation also needs a board of directors.  They need to have execs (Pres, VP, Sec, Treas) and they need to have meetings... which require minutes.  You have to report your actions each year to the state, although the forms are fairly boilerplate.

OK, now maybe you're really ready to start your fundraising.  I think asking donors for money requires bigger chutzpah & cojones than I'll ever grow.  I've watched fundraisers in action, and I've seen them obtain six-figure checks, but it's a relationship-building process that takes a 40-hour workweek.  You haven't even paid yourself a salary yet.

I actually know a woman who paid herself a salary to run a foundation.  Her father had set up a eight-figure charitable foundation and was dispensing funds.  He died suddenly and somehow she became the head of the foundation.  At the time she was a Navy O-5 with more than 20 years of service, so she immediately retired and started collecting her military pension.  Then she changed into a different uniform ("civilian executive attire") and started her new career.  She was the boss but she had to deal with a staff and a board of directors.  It involved a lot of travel (to the sites they gave money to) and fundraising (for other donors) and I'm sure every expense of her salary & benefits was relentlessly pecked at by the board.  In other words, she'd traded one job for another freakin' job that paid about the same yet had no prospects for advancement.

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So how do you give money to charity without creating yourself a full-time job?  Instead of starting a charity, I'd use a charitable gift fund like Fidelity.  You can take the tax deduction when it makes the most sense to donate the money, and you can distribute the donation when it makes the most sense for the charity.  Even better, you can distribute your donations anonymously and avoid all the unsolicited mail and charity appeals. 

I suspect that Buffett is giving his billions to the Gates Foundation because he thinks Melinda will do a better job with it than he could. 

However, it's possible that spouse and I will accumulate more assets than we can give away during our lifetime.  If nothing else, we'll hold on to a few hundred thousand dollars of longevity funds or self-insure for long-term care.  Our daughter could inherit it all, but I worry a lot about affluenza.  Instead it might make sense to have our surviving assets put into a charitable foundation (for example, college scholarships for worthy homeschool/highschool grads) and put our daughter in charge of the foundation.  She could draw a reasonable salary (or at least pay her expenses). 

Will we really do that?  I don't know.  We haven't made the decision yet.  However we've told our daughter that she won't inherit enough to make a difference in her life, so that keeps her motivated to make her own differences in her life...

reverend

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    • RobDiesel
Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #32 on: August 06, 2012, 06:21:13 AM »
I know a little about this.

Amazing! This is the sort of answer I was looking for! Thank you.  It sounds like it's a lot of work, at least the first few years - between paperwork and fundraising, I would have to be FI so as to not be too busy with a regular job.  My time might be better spent finding a worthy charity to work for (and not expect/require any pay to speak of) and improve it from the inside, and then on top of that donate money if I feel it's worth it.


Will we really do that?  I don't know.  We haven't made the decision yet.  However we've told our daughter that she won't inherit enough to make a difference in her life, so that keeps her motivated to make her own differences in her life...

Hahaha, "affluenza" - in "The Davis Dynasty" book that I just read (short blurb in the book club section) they said the same thing. Don't let the kids get loads of money and take money for granted. I think one number mentioned was $500/month that the kids got after graduating college or whatnot.

All so they don't become "trustafarians". :)

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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    • Nest Egg Chick
Re: Starting a charity? - the charity thread got me thinking
« Reply #33 on: August 06, 2012, 06:24:37 PM »
Well written Nords!  I would only add that someplace in all that paperwork you have to lay out your mission.  I know it was on our state charter, but I forget about the IRS paperwork - that part was years ago.  But the mission is key, in many ways.

I think that most people on this thread have done an excellent job of advising you, so I only want to say one more thing.  I think it's fantastic that you want to feel that you are spending your time in a more rewarding way.  That is why I have put up with lower salaries for years; it's important to me to feel passionate about what I do.  That said, I wouldn't work at just any nonprofit.  I only work at nonprofits where I care personally about the mission, and I advise you to do the same.  Whether you start a nonprofit, get a job at one, volunteer at one, or give money to one, make sure you feel passionate about the mission, or you won't be solving your original problem of feeling unfulfilled.

Pick up the newspaper and read through every single headline and article.  Which articles make you angry, sad, or otherwise emotional?  Which articles make you say "I want to fix that!"?  Look at your friends and family.  What are their big problems?  Is someone dying from a preventable disease?  Is someone suffering from a painful non-fatal illness?  Has someone been subjected to an injustice?  Has someone been sexually abused?  Is someone being persecuted?

The key to finding a cause that you care about is to get personal.  I worked with abused women because of women I knew who'd been abused.  I worked at a disease research nonprofit because that disease was similar to one that I suffer from myself.  I worked at an LGBT legal organization because of the great work they do in support of the community that I and so many of my loved ones belong to.  Get personal, get involved, and I bet you'll feel a whole lot better.  Even a few hours of volunteer time each week could change your life.  And speaking as someone who has worked at nonprofits from entry-level to director level, I can tell you that a consistent, reliable, effective volunteer can really contribute quite a lot to an organization.

Good luck!  Let us know how things work out!