How to start an orphanage

Written by gail cohen
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How to start an orphanage
Starting an orphanage is no easy task, but the rewards are immeasurable. (Children"s sight image by jura from

Pick up a personality-driven magazine these days and you may stumble upon a news story about a megastar opening or underwriting an orphanage. You might not have the cash these celebrities can bring to bear, but your heart, energy, and focus are strong enough to take up the slack. It's going to take some effort to get a project this big off the ground, but when you see how many friends and relatives offer to help you out, you'll realise that even a celebrity's budget can't replace the feeling of accomplishing a goal that benefits so many people.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Funding
  • Property
  • Licenses and permits
  • Policies and guidelines

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  1. 1

    Research the current trend of domestic vs. overseas adoptions. Visit Internet sites like to find listings of Christian and other religion-based orphanages. Peruse information on these sites to get an idea of how they're run. Contact state health and human services officials to get statistics that can help you make a determination about the need for your orphanage.

  2. 2

    Raise funds for the orphanage. Contact health and human services agencies--federal and state--for guidelines on opening an orphanage in your community. Find out requirements for entitlements and funding. Apply for start-up grants. Seek out benefactors willing to pledge immediate and continuing financial support.

  3. 3

    Stage fundraisers. Publicise your orphanage project to draw attention to your cause by contacting newspaper reporters and editors, local broadcast news producers, and community calendars on cable TV, as these resources are always looking for human interest stories. Write press releases about your venture and transmit them via the Internet.

  4. 4

    Select a residential property. Apply for licenses and permits necessary to operate an orphanage, seeking variances if zoning laws don't currently allow residential facilities. Appoint a board of directors to help you develop policies and guides your orphanage will require once it's open: a staff policy manual, a facility operations guide, a "bill of rights" for children in residence, and, if you decide to incorporate to get the most number of tax advantages, bylaws and a charter.

  5. 5

    Improve the property. Hire contractors or solicit volunteers to handle build-outs, plumbing, and electrical upgrades. Acquire beds and other furnishings. Hold an "orphanage shower" to collect items needed to turn your facility into a home. Purchase insurance on the facility and its contents and add liability coverage.

  6. 6

    Advise social-services agencies and courts of the establishment of the orphanage so judges, social workers, and parties in a position to make referrals can place children in your care. Be specific about age range, sex, and the maximum number of children you can house before reaching capacity. Make it a point to mention whether or not you'll accept orphans with special needs, as you'll be required to hire staff with special training to care for these children.

  7. 7

    Open accounts with wholesalers to provide the orphanage with essentials such as food, linens, clothing, supplies, and toiletries. Hire experienced staff for administrative and caretaker jobs. Establish relationships with doctors, dentists, and other health care professionals so you have immediate access to these services for youngsters.

  8. 8

    Orient staff members to orphanage policies, protocols, and rules. Build checks and balances into your orphanage's financial operations. Require checks to be signed by two staffers. Balance profit and loss statements frequently. Reconcile bank statements monthly. Guard against potential employee theft by putting into place protocols that make it difficult, if not impossible, to steal money donated to the facility.

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