“Starting a charity is an act of generosity that can bring hope, comfort, and joy to those in need.”


Are you considering starting your own charity?

It is important to recognize that this can be a highly rewarding and impactful experience. However, it is also crucial to understand the many things that need to be taken into account when making this decision. Before leaping into creating a charity, it is essential to consider several key factors in order to ensure that the organization runs successfully and achieves its goals. This article explores some of the things that one should think about before beginning a charity*.

Starting a Charity

When deciding to start a charity, you should first understand your motivations for doing so. Are you interested in providing services or assistance to those in need? Is the goal to create awareness about an issue or cause? Understanding this will assist with navigating through the process of setting it up, as well as determining how much time and effort you are willing to commit. Perhaps the first question to ask is: “Is there already an organisation established to do what I want to do? If so, could I work with them?”

Make no mistake, starting a charity is often the easy part! Running it takes time, effort, dedication and resources.

Before setting out it is important to evaluate all the various aspects such as legal requirements, costs associated with getting started and fundraising tactics. What structure is appropriate?  Understanding the structure of your organization along with its mission statement will be integral for achieving success.

Then, it is essential to create an effective strategy for funding the organisation while determining how these funds will be used most effectively in order to meet your objectives.

Here, then, are some things to keep in mind before setting out:

Purpose and mission: Clearly define the problem you’re trying to solve and how your charity will address it. This will help guide your decision-making and ensure that you stay focused on your goals.

Legal structure: Decide on the type of legal structure that is most appropriate for your charity. (Trust, Incorporated Society etc (see this post)).  Make sure you understand the requirements and responsibilities associated with each type. Do you understand the obligations that you will need to meet if your charity will meet the ‘Charitable Purposes Test under NZ law’ and you register to become a Registered NZ Charity?

Compliance and reporting: Make sure you understand the regulations and reporting requirements associated with running a charity. Stay up-to-date on any changes and ensure that you are following all applicable laws and regulations.

Funding: Consider how your charity will be funded. Will you rely on donations, grants, or a combination of both? Make sure you have a clear plan for securing and managing funds.

Trustees/Committee/Directors: Can you assemble a group of dedicated and knowledgeable individuals to serve on your governing body? They will provide guidance and support as you grow your charity. You cannot rely solely on your own resources. You need to spread the workload with those who share your understanding of the need for, and purposes of, your charity.

Marketing and outreach: How will you raise awareness about your charity and reach your target audience. A strong marketing and outreach plan will be critical to your success.

Measurement and evaluation: Establish metrics for measuring the impact of your charity. This will help you track progress, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate your impact to supporters.

Resources: Determine what resources you will need, including staff, volunteers, office space, and equipment, and how you will acquire them.

Starting a charity is a big commitment, but by taking the time to carefully consider these factors, you can increase your chances of success and make a lasting impact.

* The term “charity” is not formally defined in NZ legislation.  The term “charity” is used in this article to refer to any form of not-for-profit group such as a Registered NZ Charity, Incorporated Society, Charitable Trust, unincorporated body, non-profit organisation, and so on.