People who want to create a nonprofit often focus on services for children. Child-based nonprofits can invoke more empathy, leading to increased publicity and donations. If you want to create a nonprofit, there are several niches you should target to offer the most to your community.
Food insecurity remains a significant problem for children in low-income families and those who may not have reliable housing. Although there may be resources, such as food pantries, supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), and free lunch programs during the school year and summer vacation, all these program have significant limitations. One of the major limitations occurs when the family is homeless or does not have a stable residence. For example, SNAP benefits generally require an address for the application and recertification process.
Food pantries and similar programs can be difficult for families without adequate transportation because they may not be able to participate in certain programs, especially drive-thru events. Developing food pantries in areas of the community where there is a higher concentration of families without transportation can be a start. Another option is to have mobile pantries. Families can sign up for food donations and someone could deliver the groceries to the home, a shelter, or a designated drop-off point. Some communities also have mobile farmer's markets. Their stops typically include areas that are considered to be a food desert. This allows families with SNAP benefits to buy fresh food, such as fruits, vegetables, and protein.
Homelessness of children is just as much of a problem as food insecurity. Many communities have programs designed to reduce the amount of homeless families, such as public housing and the Section 8 voucher program. Both programs allow families to pay rent based on their income, and some public housing communities also have utilities included in the monthly payment. The major challenge associated with these programs is that the waiting list can be extremely long long. Other tenants, such as seniors and people with disabilities, also qualify for these housing programs, so there is often stiff competition for housing. When homeless shelters exist, they may be limited on the types of families they take. Most shelters are geared toward accommodating women and children and may exclude men with children, for example.
One of the easiest ways to combat homelessness is to make investments in housing. Old industrial buildings, bus stations, or hotels may be the most cost-effective way to create housing for several families at once. There are families where the head of household may work several low-paying jobs and spend virtually all their income on an extended-stay hotel. Affordable housing may be enough for these families to get back on their feet. Some localities have invested in tent cities to help the homeless have some amount of shelter, especially in extreme weather conditions. Even a homeless shelter can provide some stability to children and give parents an address so they can acquire an ID and apply for programs to help purchase food and possibly find housing and/or a job.
Communities with high rates of violence, gangs, and drop-out rates can benefit from diversion programs to reduce the number of children that find these behaviors appealing. One type of diversion program is sports. Some communities try to incorporate unique sports, beyond the common football and basketball. Martial arts and boxing may be more appealing to some children because these sports may be something they do not see as often in their community and can teach them self-defense. Sports in general are a good outlet for both boys and girls because they are less likely to get into trouble or become involved with gangs if they have something to do after school. The self-discipline necessary to become good at sports translates into other aspects of life like going to school and studying.
Bringing role models into the community should be part of diversion programs. Children should see examples of people who come from a similar background that have pursued any number of different careers. It is not necessary to only have athletes or doctors as role models. Some children may be interested in joining the military or learning a trade, and having realistic examples of people who are making an honest living can be invaluable in keeping children on the right track.
Child-based nonprofits are a good idea when you want to give back to the community. Focusing on the most important issues within your community can help you encourage donations while making a difference in the lives of children.