How can I found an NGO

Just save the world for a moment ...? Successfully founding NGOs

Anyone who wants to found an NGO usually has a very specific goal in mind. He wants to make a difference, and it is precisely this enthusiasm that is at the core of a successful start-up. It is the engine to stay on the ball yourself, but what is even more important: It is the spark with which to find fellow campaigners. At IndiaHilfe Germany e.V., I and my wife were offered a four-week-old baby for the equivalent of 20 euros in a slum in Calcutta. It was clear to us that we had to do something. Such key experiences are of course not necessary for every NGO, but the absolute will to see it through is the most important thing from the start.

Choose the right legal form

Once the purpose of an NGO has been determined, one must first decide which legal form is the right one. Whether association, foundation, gGmbH, gUG - each variant has different advantages and disadvantages in terms of tax law, liability, share capital and so on. I recommend consulting a lawyer or notary and, ideally, signing up as a founding member. The name of the later organization is also very important at this point. What do we want to be called What is catchy, easy to understand? Are there any ideas for a catchy claim? After all, the name is of crucial importance in order to successfully market the NGO and acquire donors.

In the case of an association, you need a statute, for which there are plenty of templates, as well as seven founding members who sign the formation minutes. A governing body is then elected and the association can be entered in the association register. You will receive an excerpt from the register with which you can, for example, open a club account or apply for charitable status at the tax office. One should bear in mind that these formalities also result in costs. The founding members should pool around 100 to 160 euros.

See donors as customers too

After the successful foundation, the real work begins. In order to grow, new members and donors must be found. It is important to see these supporters not only as helpers, but above all as customers. Just like consumers, donors need to be excited and cared for for a cause. Nobody donates time and money because they have too much of it. He always expects something in return. Even and especially when it comes to making the world a better place, every NGO should be viewed like a company that has to assert itself in a highly competitive market.

This capitalist thinking sounds strange at first, after all it is about selfless willingness to help. One should remember, however, that willingness to help is rarely completely selfless. Good deeds want to be valued. A donor always donates to feel good personally. And that only works if he knows what his money is actually being used for. Transparency and authenticity are the most important pillars of every NGO. We at India Help Germany e.V. are, for example, members of the German Donation Council, Transparency International and the DIGEV. In addition, our members regularly travel to India to personally convince themselves of the success of the projects.

From the Facebook page to the members' magazine

Against this background, every NGO should set up press and marketing work that is as professional as possible from the start. The spectrum ranges from your own Facebook page to a complete member magazine. Very important: Good public relations not only increases awareness, but also acts as an appreciation for members and donors. Those who do good are happy when what they do is noticed in public. Last but not least, the competition is also decisive. Every potential donor today has 1,000 ways to donate. Those who want to be successful should think very carefully about the points in which they differ from comparable organizations and why the donation is better off with them than elsewhere. With these unique selling points, nothing stands in the way of long-term growth.

Text: Jürgen Fluhr
Photo: PR

The article was published in the 5/2017 issue of Fundraiser magazine.

Jürgen Fluhr is a graduate engineer. Executive MBA. As the former managing director of a Dax and SDax company, he is now CEO of India Help Germany e. V. and India expert. With its “Education against Poverty” concept, the association helps several hundred street children and orphans every year.