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Bringing the community together in pursuit of a goal or just to increase hospitality and camaraderie is a great way to get involved with your local community. If you want to extend this idea and be at the epicenter of communal gatherings, creating a community center might be the right course of action for you. The process takes a lot of work, but the end result is rewarding.

Planning

Before moving any farther forward, you should identify your goals and compare them to community needs. What cause are you championing? Whether it’s providing food for the homeless or hosting classes for at-risk youth, you need to identify what it is that you want to support and how great the need for such a goal is. If your ideas align with your community’s needs, you’re good to go.

Next you’ll want to consider what kinds of services you want to offer. Will there be open events for the public, or will your center be prioritizing the target audience? Offering classes, hosting workshops, and providing shelter are a few options, but there are many other ideas out there. Select that which appeals to you, will help you reach your goals, and will not cost more than you are willing to spend.

You’ll also want to scout out the area for possible locations. You can rent out a church basement or refurbish an abandoned lot. Make a list of potential options and keep in mind your limits.

Financial

Creating a budget should be among the first things you do. Acknowledging the amount of money you are will to invest will help guide your expenditure and keep you from spending too much. You should also meet with potential donors; reach out to philanthropists, church groups, and local businesses to see if they are interested. You can also apply for government funding.

Another option is to do some marketing. Raising money through traditional fundraisers or using sites like GoFundMe can help make the process of donation easier.

Networking

People are what will make your community center happen. You’ll want to meet with interested people as well as local politicians; gaining support and possible agreements of attendance can help ease your mind and guarantee participation. You can also meet with other community leaders; many of them were once in your shoes, and speaking to them might give you a new perspective and advice, as well as their support.

Legal

The most formal part of creating a community center is in the paperwork. You’ll have to write up bylaws and explicitly address your goals and mission. Include things like how finances will be managed, how the organization will be governed, and of course, what the name of your organization will be.

Before having any sort of meeting or event, you will need to acquire a space. This means either renting a property or purchasing one. Be selective, and make sure the space available can accommodate your needs.

You will need to register your center as a non-profit with the IRS and file for tax-exempt status.

Once all the legalities are taken care of, you should advertise in local newspapers or on social media to spread the word about your mission. If you get enough people interested and follow through with your plans, your community center is bound to be successful in bringing the community together.