National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
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Start a Vet Program

HOW TO START A HOMELESS VETERAN PROGRAM


DETERMINE NEED

Gather data from

  • Homeless Coordinator at VA Medical Center nearest you
  • Your city, county or state's Homeless Coalition (click here for the most recent CHALENG report)
  • Local service providers
  • Police
  • Formerly homeless veterans
  • Your state's homeless coordinator (usually appointed by Governor)

Answer questions

  • How many homeless are there?
  • How many of those are veterans?
  • What services are currently available?
  • What services are missing in order to break the cycle of homelessness?
  • What are the short-, medium- and long-range needs?
  • What resources are available?
  • What additional resources are needed?
  • Who is involved now?
  • Who could/should be involved?

Most of this information can be found in the CHALENG report.

Visit or talk to other homeless veteran programs

NCHV has a list of providers throughout the nation that can be used as contacts. Click here to locate community-based service providers in your area.

Involve Others

Select an organizing committee of individuals that might be interested in attacking this issue. At this stage, it's wise to select individuals that can see the big picture and the long road. Individuals that are doers have a hard time during the development stage sitting around talking and planning. They want to be doing, not talking! Click here for our fact sheet on collaboration.

Develop

  • Mission
  • Goals and objectives
  • Business plan
  • Resource plan – e.g. people, things, money that you will need
  • Budget
  • Bylaws
  • Program guidelines

Test

  • Is there enough commitment to make the plan work?
  • Is there enough access to resources to make plan work?
  • Is your plan meeting the needs of homeless veterans within your community?

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LEARN ABOUT NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION MANAGEMENT

Management

Effective Board Development

  • Board of Directors
    • Risks, responsibilities, recruitment, demographics and client representation
    • Committee structure
    • Tenure
    • Executive committee

Financial Management

  • Tips for Grantseeking
    • Restricted funds versus unrestricted funds
    • IRS 990 filing requirements
    • Charitable solicitation requirements
    • Director and officer liability insurance

Annual Reports

Apply for 501(c)(3) IRS tax-exempt status

  • Obtaining a 501(c)(3) status gives the organization access to grants from federal and state governments, as well as private and corporate foundations.
  • The process takes 2-6 months, from filling out an application to receiving ruling from the IRS. The complete process is described here.
  • It will be necessary to have a mission, business plan, budget, bylaws and a board of directors before applying.
  • Each state has different requirements to become a nonprofit organization. Check these requirements prior to completing IRS application.

Participate in Local Homeless Coalitions

Develop partnerships that will assist in meeting the needs of homeless veterans.

  • Often local coalitions assign or influence the priorities for government funds. If you are not at the table, you will be less likely to receive a share.

Develop a Public Education and Marketing Campaign

  • Brochures or one-piece information "fact sheets" are helpful to educate or request investments from the community. Make sure yours look professional and answer the basic who, what, where, when, why and how questions.
  • Prepare several individuals to be speakers for the organization. Educating the community often happens at organization meetings, and you need a representative that can face an audience and gain their support.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Fact Sheets
  • Nonprofit Resources
    • BoardSource builds exceptional nonprofit boards and inspires board service. Call 877-892-6273 or visit their website for more information.
    • National Council for Nonprofit Associations: Most states have a nonprofit association that provides technical assistance to other nonprofits. Click here to find the association nearest you.
    • Jossey-Bass Publishers have a wide variety of topics for nonprofits. Call 415-433-1767 for a catalog or visit their website.
    • Fieldstone Alliance has a wide variety of topics for nonprofits. Call 1-800-274-6024 for a catalog or visit their website.

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333 1/2 Pennsylvania Avenue SE  |  Washington, D.C.  |  20003  |  t-f. 1.800.VET.HELP  |  v. 202.546.1969  |  f. 202.546.2063  |  info@nchv.org

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