Starting a foundation is much like starting a service business. Like a service business, your product are the insights, ideas and research findings you present in publications and seminars and services such as researching solutions, providing seminars to share ideas with others as well as resource and project managements to help people implement those great ideas through activities like: protesting or promoting a given political agenda, cleaning a park or changing bad habits in their daily lives.
Like a business, you will need to have several of the same tools:
Mission and Vision Statement:
A mission statement that clearly defines what your organization does and believes in and the key measures of the success of the organization. (Example: Our foundation will bring food, shelter, education and other resources to impoverished nations so that the poor people of the world can create their own businesses in a sustainable way and become self-sufficient.)
A vision statement that clearly defines the key values of your organization and how those values will impact the world. (Example: Our foundation strives to end poverty around the world by helping people to create the businesses they need to provide for themselves. Or more simply: Ending poverty around the world, one business at a time.)
The idea is that a mission statement can change over time as you determine the best way of implementing the vision in your vision statement.
While you are developing your vision and mission statements, you should ask yourself, what is the problem or set of problems you want to solve and how do you intend to solve those problems.
As you go through this process, create 2-3 quick elevator pitches you can rattle off to someone wants to know about you or your business.
(Example: You know all those poor and impoverished people all over the world? And you know how there are a lot of organizations out there who feed and clothe them, but their lives pretty much remain the same? I work for an organization to change this by teaching these people how to take care of themselves and their families by starting small businesses rather than relying on non-existent jobs.)
After you have these two pieces of work done, you will want to create a business plan.
There are lots of good books on creating a business plan, and the process of creating a business plan requires quite a bit of work. In general, you want to know:
- What services you will be providing.
- Who your competition is.
- How you differentiate yourself from the competition.
- What legal and insurance requirements you need to take care of.
- How will you raise funds to pay for the foundation?
- Who will you be raising money and volunteer help from?
- How will you market yourself?
While most of us are not sales and marketing people, just like any business, you have to market your foundation and sell its vision and goals to fund it so that you can actually do what needs to be done to accomplish its goals. Sadly, the most successful foundations are not the ones who do the most good, but are the ones who do the best marketing. Fortunately, there are organizations like the Red Cross that excel at both. Our goal is to build a foundation that excels like the Red Cross does. J
- Some other details to keep in mind is how will you keep track of the foundation’s accounting? It is best to have a separate bank account for this for legal purposes.
As you figure out your passion for this foundation and the direction you want to take it, consider writing a book. There are few things that give a level of credibility that writing a book does. Even if it is a short book, it still can have a big impact!
Here are some links to help out: