There are a variety of ways to prepare for founding your own charity. There is, of course, the legal and bureaucratic work, but much more important is getting ready, skill and knowledge-wise. Many charities are founded on a whim or impulse, but the best charities are founded after considerable careful and deliberate thought.
Read, read, and read some more
Most of the best books on founding things are for-profit books with cross-applicable lessons. Here is some of the most helpful reading for founding a new charity, regardless of cause area:
As to area-specific reading, for example, if you’re interested in global poverty, you might want to read:
As well as review these websites:
For animal advocacy you might read:
Websites that could be of help:
But, of course, reading can only get you so far if you want to start a truly great charity.
Get some hands on experience
Work, volunteer, or intern for charities! Getting some experience, particularly at a smaller nonprofit in your area of choice, will give you a deeper understanding of the details of how charities work. Generally, you will learn more by getting a wide variety of experiences, e.g. interning at 4 organizations rather than working at a single one for several years.
We offer internships explicitly aimed at teaching charitable skills, but do consider organizations working directly in your field of interest, even if they do not mention the intent to train.
Don’t get married to a single idea
There are hundreds of charities that the world needs, so the real question is, which ones are of the highest priority to found. Thankfully, research has been done by Charity Entrepreneurship, GiveWell, and Animal Charity Evaluators in order to pin down what the most effective interventions might be in any given area, and, more specifically, what the overall best charities to found might be.
Speak to others who have founded a charity
Many people are willing to speak extensively about their field. If you contact the heads of the biggest charities, they will, most likely, not be able to speak to you, but the leaders of smaller organizations in fields related to the ones you are considering will often be interested in talking about their work if you have done your homework beforehand. If you cannot contact them directly, you can listen to them talk at lectures, conferences, or TED talks.
I am happy to speak to people who are considering charity entrepreneurship as a career path and help them think over whether it might be a good fit for them. I have also introduced people to other founders across different charities, and many others will likely do the same if you ask them.
Apply for the Charity Entrepreneurship incubation camp
Programming bootcamps can teach in months what schools often take years to teach. Likewise, the Charity Entrepreneurship camp is focused on teaching as much as possible in 2 months to get someone from 0 to founding a great charity.
The camp focuses on both the hard and soft skills of building a charity: anything from making your first fundraising proposal to how to hire staff with the expertise you do not personally have. It’s built to apply to a range of people, from students fresh out of school to individuals who have worked in the charity sector for many years. All costs are covered for accepted applicants, including room and board. Applicants who go to the camp and decide to found an effective charity are also given a grant to cover their first ~6 months of charitable operating expenses.
Sign up to our mailing list, to be the first to know when the application process for the camp begins.
The most helpful things you can do to get ready for founding a successful and high impact charities are: