Starting a business is not easy, but what is even more difficult is establishing a non-profit organization out of thin air. Moreover, if you make that same business a homeless shelter, you might get mixed reviews on how the public views it. Some people are extremely supportive of groups like this, and others are not. Therefore, knowing how to start a non-profit homeless shelter will take some strategizing as you gain traction.
Know Where To Invest Your Time
Before you create a homeless shelter, you will need to do a little research on the different aspects. There is a wide variety of homeless shelters that provide services for specific groups. There are shelters for women, individuals battling addiction, survivors of child abuse, individuals who are mentally ill, ex-felons, and even the elderly with nowhere to go. There are so many categories knowing where you want to invest your time is imperative.
Research the Local Area
You will also need to ensure you understand the inner workings of the economic wealth distribution within the area and the region’s demographics. Knowing these things will help to narrow down who your shelter will serve. You can help those who need it most according to the neediest individuals in the area and what they are burdened with specifically. As you find out more about the population, consider their health and well-being, as it could mean the people your shelter serves will need medical treatment, which adds to the budget.
Decide On Your Specialty
When creating your organization, your target demographic will determine who your shelter serves. Drugs and alcohol may be plaguing the region that you live in, as it does in many parts of the world. So, this is something you will need to highly educate yourself on. Create programs and find other ways to support and elevate these individuals to help them get healthy so that they can fight back against what is holding them in the position they are in now. Partner with rehabilitation groups to alleviate and eradicate the addiction problems plaguing your area.
Find a Location
It is said that location is everything when starting a company. Because your company will be a non-profit organization, the focus will not be on how much money is made but on how many people it helps. With this in mind, it is essential that the location is in a populated area that is easy to get to and that the building is held to certain standards, such as ADA compliance. An inspector might come through and conduct safety checks before you buy the property. The next thing you will need to worry about is housing itself. You will need to measure everything out to know the total housing capacity, so you will be able to furnish it with the necessary furniture and amenities to properly house people needing shelter.
Organize Legalities for Funding
In addition to the steps listed above, you will need to ensure that your business is a legitimate operation. Apply for a license to operate as a business. Once the federal government grants you a business license, you can work with banks to have a business savings and checking account and even a line of credit. Make sure you are insuring your business because anything can happen, and you may need legal protection. Remember to register the name of your homeless shelter with your local government.
Have a Business Model
Running and operating a homeless shelter takes work, so you should have a business model ready to go before you ever open the doors to receive individuals. This means you will need a business statement that defines all your shelter’s finances, documentation, legalities, mission statement, and how it benefits the local community. Ensure all these things are completed and well organized before starting any business.
Look Up Government Entities
You should not depend on any singular government entity for full support because it usually does not work like that. Certain organizations may promote you by a percentage, while others will give you donations through grants and awards. Apply to as many of these organizations as possible to keep the operation costs as low as possible. The idea is to avoid having to take out a business loan. There are hundreds of grants and dozens of government organizations out there to choose from. Do not be afraid to apply to them all to increase your chances of success.
Draft a Grant Proposal
You will need to write each organization a cover letter and a formal thank you letter for taking the time to read through your proposition and the impact you are attempting to make in the community you service. Make sure to include that their names will be added to that impact unless they choose to remain anonymous. This may increase your chances of being funded. Above all else, thank them graciously for their time and consideration, regardless of their decision.
Determine Your Finances for Funding
Finally, once everything is settled and you believe you have everything you will need, it is time to crunch some numbers. Make sure you fully account for the capacity of your establishment, utilities, annual taxes, and any other bills you may expect, along with the total cost of the property. You might even include essentials like toilet paper, homeless hygiene kits, and first aid kits. Once you get the finances all squared away, you will know what the total cost of your shelter will be and how much you may owe, so you can start budgeting based on how much you have to spend and what you intend to make back monthly to fund your expenditures.
This has been a definitive guide on how to start a non-profit homeless shelter and what you will need to make it happen. There are many steps to get a non-profit business venture like this off the ground, so make sure you are following the recommendations and instructions from your lawyer and financial advisor. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.