NGO/Charity Start-up Checklist
Click on one of the topics to see a checklist of all the things you need to consider when launching your mission-based start-up. We hope you find this list useful. If you need help with any of the below items, or if just need feedback and advice, please feel free to contact us.
- Research and assess (community) need.
- Define how the need can be met.
- Define how success can be measured.
- Investigate opportunities to work with existing organizations as an alternative to creating a new one.
- Write mission and vision statements.
- Identify key stakeholders and competitors
- Identify funding sources.
- Write a business plan, including how you will structure, staff, house, market, support, develop and sustain your start-up. Include budgets for the first three years of operation.
- Open a bank account.
- US: Register for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit vehicle (US Internal Revenue Code) which enables exemption from federal and/or state corporate income taxes,(possible) exemption from state sales and property taxes, and the ability to apply for grants and other public or private allocations available to 501(c)(3) organizations.
- Spend no more than 25% of total expenses on administrative overhead and fundraising costs combined.
- Ensure controls are in place for traditional bank transactions and non-traditional banking transactions.
- Maintain accurate and secure financial records and information and keep an audit trail of all transactions.
- Publish financial information such as it’s the most recently filed 990 form or audited financial statements.
- Regularly review the costs, benefits and risks of deposit accounts.
- Keep a fixed asset list that is regularly updated.
- If the charity has running loans, ensure a repayment plan is in place.
- Develop a clear policy regarding the payment and reimbursment of expenses.
- Reguarly check expenditure records against the bank statements.
- Comply with employer legislation such as minimum wage and pension legislation.
- Comply with data protection legislation.
- Comply with health and safety legislation.
- Comply with national fundraising laws.
- Comply with lease, licence or tenancy agreements.
- Comply with tax and VAT regulations including national insurance and income tax.
- Obtain relevant insurances covering general risks such as fire, theft, flooding and legal action.
- Ensure that any restrictions or conditions attached to the use of funds, by the donor or through an appeal, are observed.
- Maintain bank accounts, loans, overdrafts and investments according to agreements.
- Develop a conflict of interest policy.
- Develop a whistleblower policy.
- Write and publish case studies of all your campaigns/projects.
- Optimize your website for mobile.
- Organize your marketing efforts by grouping your activity into annual/campaign cycles.
- Feature a ‘Donate Now’ button on every page of your website and minimize the amount of clicks needed to make a donation process.
- Assess which social media platforms your supporters/potential donors are most active on and focus your social media efforts on those networks.
- Create new online content regularly. Make it visual, informative, and always provide a next step like donating or subscribing to the mailing list.
- Develop an annual fundraising strategy.
- Seek donations from different sources, e.g. grant-making trusts, individuals, your government, and fundraising events.
- Suggest donation amounts.
- Encourage donors to give monthly.
- Use a safe, an established online crowd funding platform and use this platform to collect donations on your website.
- Develop specific campaigns with short-term aims and a specific target.
- Link fundraising campaigns to holidays and #GivingTuesday.
- Clearly communicate the fundraising aims and achievements to the public and donors.
- To protect donor data, esure PCs are kept secure with up-to-date anti-virus and spyware software and a personal firewall.
- Thank donors for their contributions.
- send receipts and personalised thank-you notes immediately upon receiving a donation.
- regularly report on the impact of their donation.
- Establish an effective Board of Directors and hold regular board meetings.
- Define human capital needs and draft job descriptions accordingly.
- Keep personnel records.
- Develop a written personnel handbook/policy that is regularly reviewed and updated.
- Conduct (documented) employee performance appraisals at least annually.
- Provide employees with professional development opportunities and training.
- Have a clear compensation plan, and a periodic review of salary ranges and benefits.
- Develop a volunteer/intern management plan that includes a recruitment policy, possible stipend and reimbursement policies any other volunteer personnel policy information.
- Be respectful of the abilities and time commitment of your interns and volunteers.
- Give the public access to information about the organization’s staff and Board of Directors for transparency purposes.