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I am interested in advocating for a social issue in my free time. I'll omit the details about the issue itself, since this is more of a process question.

Right now, there is no good information source or advocacy organization about the issue in my area, otherwise I would simply join those efforts. Consequently, I would like to create a relatively informal group or advocacy organization. I don't intend to take donations, since I will just use my own money for some minor expenses like website hosting.

I thought about incorporating as a nonprofit, but that would be quite a lot of work for my initial aims. I'm not sure if political action committees or something similar might be worth investigating, but those organizations seemed focused on donations as well and carry a significant paperwork burden.

Initially, my goal is to create a website and social media accounts to review relevant news about this topic, suggest policy proposals, and also provide guidance to others about how to get involved (e.g., who to contact, possible volunteer opportunities, and so forth). However, I would prefer to voice my thoughts as "Organization for X" or "Coalition for Y" instead of just "John Doe." It's also important that other members of the community be able to join the advocacy group and work with me in the future (potentially even taking it over one day).

What is the best path forward as a single advocate wanting to start a group? If I'm not accepting donations, can I simply invent a group name, call myself the founder, and put up a website? Should I create a charter or other guiding document initially?

Many thanks for the support!

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While it's just you, yes, you can just make up a name and start publishing.

Once you start wanting to get other people involved, you'll probably want to have a charter or constitution of some sort, even if you don't choose to incorporate. You'll want to draft this fairly early on, but I'd suggest not doing it entirely by yourself - perhaps get a few core members on board first. It's good to have multiple perspectives when designing a structure that's intended to continue on long-term.

If the organisation gets big or starts needing money, you'll want to incorporate - but you may never reach that stage, it really depends on how things turn out. Do keep it in mind as an option though. Having the much more formalised regulations of an incorporated body does come with a cost, but it can make the organisation more sustainable in the long term.

Definitely a good idea to get in contact with local civil society groups and see what help they can give you.

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I believe that this is basically a first amendment issue and I would think that you have the constitutional right to do create this advocacy group no matter what you want to advocate for. That said, I would highly suggest to follow the path of creating first a charter or other guiding documents as you describe it, so whomever is interested in joining could have a good idea of the program you want to implement. In respect to the fact that you want for the organization to survive you I would also recommend for you to create the non-for-profit corporation for that is one of the reasons of why corporations are created. I do not know exactly where you can get help for your particular cause because you do not say much about the cause but I would think that you may be able to find some help with community organizing groups such as ACORN and/or with local community leaders such as city counselors. Check this website for more information and some resources to help you get started: COMM-ORG: The On-Line Conference on Community Organizing and Development

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    I accepted the other answer, but thanks for this helpful post too! – ZeroFlux Apr 17 '15 at 20:00

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