Answer by Philanthropologist In-Chief:
Charities and nonprofit organizations are tax exempt corporations that reinvest revenue as opposed to dispersing profits to shareholders. To set up a charity, first and foremost, you’ll need to establish a corporation with designated leadership that will hold legal and fiduciary responsibility for the company.
The next step is to register for tax exempt status with the appropriate overseeing body. In the US, that’s the IRS. However, different states, provinces and nations have different regulatory offices and guidelines. Local attorneys and solicitors are excellent resources for guidance and compliance information.
An alternative would be to establish a public or private charitable foundation, or a trust. In this scenario, the charitable activity would be directed toward the public good (for example, hospitals, libraries, or research that benefits everyone); it may also serve as a supporting organization for one or more charitable causes via grants or endowments. Accountants and financial planners, and often financial institutions, are excellent resources for local guidance and requirements.