Starting a charity is not something I’d ever thought about. Without thinking it through, in 2011, I set about starting the charity Stay Up Late. With the aim of addressing the injustices many people with learning disabilities face around social lives. This article draws on my experiences to help other people finding themselves thinking about creating non-profit start-ups.

Then in 2013 I had the idea for our Gig Buddies volunteering project. It’s now in eight countries enabling over 1000 marginalised people to have great social lives. I never intended that either, having no previous experience of non-profit start-ups.

So what was my plan? I don’t think I had one, the charity and the Gig Buddies franchise are happy accidents borne out of the frustration of wanting to try and make change happen.

Why non-profit start-ups get started – what’s the motivation?

I reckon many charities and non-profits start the same way as Stay Up Late did. Instead people spot a need and feel they want to do something about it.

Furthermore, when starting a charity there are 1001 things you need to think about and learn. Some may seem scary, others bewildering and others may bore you to tears.

Don’t let that put you off. You’ve seen a need and want to do something about it so all these things are just details in your big mission.

Punks In The Community logo of fist holding a carrot, Non-profit Start-ups, Stay Up Late, Gig Buddies

The aim of this blog

The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences in starting the charity Stay Up Late, and the Gig Buddies social franchise and reflect on the context it was started in. So it will focus on:

  • Starting a charity or non-profit
  • Social franchising and scaling a project
  • Changing cultures in social care
  • The odd bizarre story from the Heavy Load vaults that got us in this place to start with

In addition, as our charity is working in the social care sector I’ll also share my thoughts on the wider context of our work.

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Paul Richards Executive Director, Stay Up Late

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