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.

Getting Started

  1. Research and assess (community) need.
  2. Define how the need can be met.
  3. Define how success can be measured.
  4. Investigate opportunities to work with existing organizations as an alternative to creating a new one.
  5. Write mission and vision statements.
  6. Identify key stakeholders and competitors
  7. Identify funding sources.
  8. 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.

Financial Considerations

  1. Open a bank account.
  2. 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.
  3. Spend no more than 25% of total expenses on administrative overhead and fundraising costs combined.
  4. Ensure controls are in place for traditional bank transactions and non-traditional banking transactions.
  5. Maintain accurate and secure financial records and information and keep an audit trail of all transactions.
  6. Publish financial information such as it’s the most recently filed 990 form or audited financial statements.
  7. Regularly review the costs, benefits and risks of deposit accounts.
  8. Keep a fixed asset list that is regularly updated.
  9. If the charity has running loans, ensure a repayment plan is in place.
  10. Develop a clear policy regarding the payment and reimbursment of expenses.
  11. Reguarly check expenditure records against the bank statements.
  1. Comply with employer legislation such as minimum wage and pension legislation.
  2. Comply with data protection legislation.
  3. Comply with health and safety legislation.
  4. Comply with national fundraising laws.
  5. Comply with lease, licence or tenancy agreements.
  6. Comply with tax and VAT regulations including national insurance and income tax.
  7. Obtain relevant insurances covering general risks such as fire, theft, flooding and legal action.
  8. Ensure that any restrictions or conditions attached to the use of funds, by the donor or through an appeal, are observed.
  9. Maintain bank accounts, loans, overdrafts and investments according to agreements.
  10. Develop a donor privacy policy.
  11. Develop a conflict of interest policy.
  12. Develop a whistleblower policy.


  1. Write and publish case studies of all your campaigns/projects.
  2. Optimize your website for mobile.
  3. Organize your marketing efforts by grouping your activity into annual/campaign cycles.
  4. Feature a ‘Donate Now’ button on every page of your website and minimize the amount of clicks needed to make a donation process.
  5. Assess which social media platforms your supporters/potential donors are most active on and focus your social media efforts on those networks.
  6. Create new online content regularly. Make it visual, informative, and always provide a next step like donating or subscribing to the mailing list.


  1. Develop an annual fundraising strategy.
  2. Seek donations from different sources, e.g. grant-making trusts, individuals, your government, and fundraising events.
  3. Suggest donation amounts.
  4. Encourage donors to give monthly.
  5. Use a safe, an established online crowd funding platform and use this platform to collect donations on your website.
  6. Develop specific campaigns with short-term aims and a specific target.
  7. Link fundraising campaigns to holidays and #GivingTuesday.
  8. Clearly communicate the fundraising aims and achievements to the public and donors.
  9. To protect donor data, esure PCs are kept secure with up-to-date anti-virus and spyware software and a personal firewall.
  10. Thank donors for their contributions.
  11. send receipts and personalised thank-you notes immediately upon receiving a donation.
  12. regularly report on the impact of their donation.


  1. Establish an effective Board of Directors and hold regular board meetings.
  2. Define human capital needs and draft job descriptions accordingly.
  3. Keep personnel records.
  4. Develop a written personnel handbook/policy that is regularly reviewed and updated.
  5. Conduct (documented) employee performance appraisals at least annually.
  6. Provide employees with professional development opportunities and training.
  7. Have a clear compensation plan, and a periodic review of salary ranges and benefits.
  8. Develop a volunteer/intern management plan that includes a recruitment policy, possible stipend and reimbursement policies any other volunteer personnel policy information.
  9. Be respectful of the abilities and time commitment of your interns and volunteers.
  10. Give the public access to information about the organization’s staff and Board of Directors for transparency purposes.