Why work for a charity when you can set one up yourself?!
Do you have an idea that could be beneficial to society? Have you identified a need for your idea; a group of people or individuals that you can help? Is your idea not-for-profit? If the answer is yes to these three questions you are have the makings of a great charity!
It was in 2009 when I set up Together We Create. I set up the charity with the belief that young people could benefit their local communities if given the right skills and support. Prior to 2009 I had spent time working with young people of all ages running creative workshops in schools and community spaces, so I knew there was a demand and a possibility. Moreover I had a passion to make a change and a passion to give young people a voice.
After bribing my friends with cups of tea, I decide that the charity route was the path I should take. There are now lots of other community based structures to follow from Community Interest Companies to Cooperatives all under the broad definition of Social Enterprises. However, what I liked about obtaining Charity Status was that to be a charity I had to clearly state my aims and objectives, I was required to have Trustees and as a charity my organisation could apply for grant funding.
Thinking through the aims and objectives for the charity seemed easy, but to adhere to charitable law I sought advice from my local Centre for Voluntary Service (CVS). Following my meeting with the CVS I started to draft the aims and objectives (also known as objects) for my charity Together We Create (TWC). The Objects for TWC can be found on the Charity Commission website.
The hardest bit was finding Trustees who saw my vision and where happy to challenge my ideas. It is important when setting up an organisation to seek out and listen to constructive feedback. Having a clear set of aims and objects helped me recruit good trustees. If you are struggling there are organisations that can help you recruit Trustees, again York CVS is a good organisation to contact. Being a trustee is a voluntary role which brings enormous benefit in terms of what you learn, plus it’s great to have on your CV.
The final benefit to being a charity is access to grant funding. This is both complicated and easy. The more money you wish to apply for the more complicated the process gets. However is you have a really good simple idea which can benefit your local community applying for small pots of money (under £1,000) can be quite simple. You’ll need a bank account for your charity and two signatories. Websites such as Funding Central will help you find small pots.
Setting up and running a charity is hard work. It involves working long days and long nights, often unpaid. That said it is incredible to think that over the last 6 years I have set up projects which over 7,000 people have benefited from, I have fundraised over £250,000 and have helped many undergraduates build skills in project management. And all this a result of lots of tea and some amazing friends!
Sarah Hoyle is a part time PhD Student at the University of York, researching the Cultural Value of Outdoor and Experiential Film Screenings. When not in York, Sarah runs Together We Create a charity she set up in 2009 and coordinates a project designed to reduce loneliness and isolation for older people living in London. If you would like to talk to Sarah about setting up a charity, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org