Seven essential steps to launch a scalable charity efficiently

Launching a charity is one of the most rewarding professional choices you can make.

Launching a charity is one of the most rewarding professional choices you can make.

Not only will you make a difference in your chosen area of society, but you’ll also inspire others and encourage them to do the same.

But while you want to improve society as you know it, launching a charity isn’t easy. It’s critical to follow some essential steps to make sure you’re efficient from the outset and avoid the need to backtrack as you grow.

While you’re obviously driven by passion, it’s important to understand whether there’s a place for the charity within the not-for-profit sector.

Does a charity that provides the same service already exist? Are there organisations you could align with to complement your charity? Perhaps most importantly, will your cause appeal to donors? Donors have a lot of choice when it comes to charitable giving so it’s important to make sure there’s no one more established who you’ll directly compete with for the donated dollar.

2.Define your goals

Outlining short, medium and long-term goals in a business plan will provide clarity on how you plan to make a charity a success. As with any business plan, document the wider mission of the charity, define who will benefit from the service, and describe activities and programs you plan to implement.

3. Financial plan

While a charity may be funded primarily through donations, this is rarely an immediate solution. Create a realistic budget detailing how you plan to fund the start-up and operational costs required until donations start gathering momentum.

The initial costs might be funded by a once-off donor or in many cases, from your own pocket. Define how long this initial investment can last before you need sustainable programs to start bringing in an income.

4.Define a fundraising strategy

A fundraising strategy is essential from the outset. You must clearly define fundraising activities (for example, direct mail, community events and program segregation) and how you plan to achieve desired outcomes. Do you need resources such as volunteers or staff to achieve your goals, or are you able to do what you need to alone?

Memberships and monthly donations are an effective way to create sustainable income so identifying these income streams and knowing how you’ll deliver from the outset is critical.

5.Be aware of your obligations

The legal structure and registration of a charity must be correct from the outset. If this is the first charity you’ve launched, seek professional advice to make sure you’re legally allowed to fundraise. We recommend connecting with the ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission) to make sure you meet all obligations regarding legal structure, charity registration and financial obligations before you start fundraising.

We also recommend connecting with an accountant or business advisory service with specific charity experience. The obligations of a charity can differ greatly from a full profit business.

6.Plan your marketing campaign

A charity can have the most critical mission in the world but if nobody knows about it, you’ll never make the difference you intend. Your initial marketing should utilise social media platforms, a website and a PR campaign. Communication is key so from day one, make sure you utilise every avenue at your fingertips.

7.Implement scalable, efficient internal systems

When launching a charity, you’re naturally going to be more reactive than strategic. Implementing scalable systems and programs from the outset may seem like more work at the time, but it will save time and money and increase efficiencies in both the long and short term.

Of course, it might be quicker and easier to start a donor and supporter database in Excel while numbers are few. But this poses a risk to data making it easier to make errors which will impact donor relations. The email database might be small enough to manually handle in the short term, but utilising integrated marketing tools from the outset ensures that as the numbers grow, there is no room for error. While appeals may only be sent to small numbers, being able to analyse the response after each appeal will help you create campaigns that supporters respond to from the outset.

SupporterHub is a budget-friendly, integrated system that provides a broad range of scalable features for newly established charities. Donor management, email marketing, comprehensive reporting and analytics, and fundraising pages are all included in the monthly subscription with no expensive add-ons. Our unique fundraising experience means we’re also on hand to offer professional guidance regarding the not-for-profit sector. SupporterHub was designed specifically to help build charity-supporter relationships to increase fundraising outcomes.

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