It’s great that you’re thinking of starting your own Men’s Shed in your community. With nearly 2,000 Men’s Sheds created so far in eleven different countries, a lot has been learned about different ways to get started. We call one the Stand-Alone Approach and the other the Auspices-Approach.
Stand-Alone Approach. This approach is used if you want to create a new Men’s Shed by itself rather than from within an existing non-profit or community organization. After hosting a successful informational meeting, you can begin to form a working group, and begin locating a venue for your shed. Before you accept or spend any money, though, you will need to become a legal entity by applying for Charitable Status through state and US government IRS. This is the process is being used by the Honolulu Men’s Shed and the Travers City Men’s Shed here in the US.
Auspices-Approach: This approach is used if you want to create a new Men’s Shed under the auspices of an existing non-profit, community or health organization or authority. In the US, this process is called Fiscal Sponsorship. This allows the Shed to begin holding meetings and doing activities right away with no startup expenses. The organization can hold an Information Meeting and begin holding meetings immediately, without having to file for a separate charitable or non-profit status. This is the process being used by the Hopkins Men’s Shed and the Platteville Men’s Shed here in the US, both whom have been formed under their local city Community and Activity Centers.
|You lead the effort to start the new shed||The Fiscal Sponsor leads the effort|
|You file for a legal name||Not necessary|
|You file for 501.3.c Non-Profit Status||Not necessary|
|You find a suitable venue||You meet at the Sponsors venue|
|You purchase liability insurance||You are covered by Sponsors insurance|
The Standalone-Approach to Forming a New Men’s Shed
This approach is used if you want to create a new Men’s Shed by itself rather than from within an existing non-profit or community organization. After hosting a successful informational meeting, you can begin to form a working group, and begin locating a venue for your shed. Before you accept or spend any money, though, you will need to become a legal entity by applying for Charitable Status through state and US government IRS. This is the process is being used by the Honolulu Men’s Shed and the Travers City Men’s Shed here in the US.
- Get a group of people interested in starting a local Men’s Shed
Starting a new Men’s Shed normally requires a community effort, so promote the idea of a local Men’s Shed by presenting the benefits to both to men and the community. Local non-profit, charities and community level groups can all be very helpful in supporting or sponsoring your new Men’s Shed. For example, local, Rotary International clubs have sponsored and supported many Men’s Sheds around the world.
- Hold an Information Meeting
Holding an information meeting is a good way to test the level of interest among local men in getting involved in a Shed. You can do this by advertising the meeting in your community, talking to a few friends or local people you know and using the group of supporting groups you have already approached. The informational Meeting provides an explanation as to what the Men’s Shed movement is about and its values. This leads into a group discussion on what men would like to do for activities and what types of venues they might prefer. This meeting can be held anywhere you like.
- Form a Working Group
Hopefully your information evening has been successful. Out of that meeting you have 2 to 5 people who would be interested in helping you begin a shed. You now have a working group. Don’t rush. Spend time with your group zeroing in on what your visions are for the shed. It’s very important for everyone to feel invested in the mission. Do the research from Australia, Ireland, Canada, United Kingdom, Wales and the US and anywhere else sheds are located. Talk to members of the USMSA.
- Visit Other Sheds
This can be done by either physically visiting sheds or by looking other sheds up online. There are sheds all over the world including the US. Check them out. Ask questions, talk to people who run them.
- Managing / Planning / Registering
Your first steps are to pick an official name for your shed and contact the Office of Secretary of State in your state to apply for a non-profit entity status with the name you chose. Next, contact the IRS for an EIN. Employer Identification Number. This can be done with them over the phone usually and only takes a few minutes. Once these steps have been completed it is now time to apply for your 501(c)3 Non-Profit Status by going to the IRS website and filling out form1023 or Form 1023 ez.
- Find a Suitable Premises
Once you have completed the other steps, you are ready to identify a premises or venue for your shed. This can be done in different ways. You can locate vacant buildings or vacant spaces within buildings from many sources. If you have questions, contact us at the USMSA.
The Auspices-Approach to Forming a New Men’s Shed
In the Auspices-Approach, someone in an existing community, non-profit or health group decides to sponsor and start a Men’s Shed within their organization, or someone approaches their organization asking them to sponsor a Men’s Shed. This sponsoring organization begins by reaching out to interested individuals and other community non-profit and health-related organizations who may want to help starting a Shed.
- Learn more about the Men’s Sheds Movement
A good place for people interested in starting a Men’s Shed to begin is to visit Men’s Sheds web sites, such as the US Men’s Sheds Association’s (USMSA) website at usmenssheds.org and the International Men’s Shed Organization (IMSO) at imso.org. Other good sources of information are Men’s Sheds national associations from Australia, Ireland, Canada, United Kingdom, Wales and Scotland. You can contact the US Men’s Sheds Association by email (at firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you might have, or by filling out the Contact Form on the USMSA website.
- Find an Organization to Sponsor your Men’s Shed
This can be done by someone already working in a non-profit or charitable organization who wants to start a Men’s Shed for their community. Or, this can also be done by someone from the outside who convinces others to consider starting a Men’s Shed. You can start this by first talking to friends, local people you know and members of local organizations in your community about starting a Men’s Shed. Once an organization has agreed to sponsor a Men’s Shed, you can work out the details of when and where you want to meet and schedule your Informational Meeting.
To test the level of interest among local men of getting involved in a Men’s Shed, you’ll want to hold an Informational Meeting where everyone is welcome. Someone will make a brief presentation about what the Men’s Shed Movement is and how a Men’s Shed could benefit the mental health of local men (and women) and benefit the community. You can then discuss ideas about what type of activities may be of interest to local men, what location, days and times would be good for the men and form a small Working Group to do any needed planning and to register your Shed.
- Form a Working Group
Hopefully your information evening has been successful. Hopefully, coming out of that meeting you have 2 to 5 people who have volunteered to helping you organizing your Shed. You now have a working group. Don’t rush. Spend time with your group zeroing in on what your visions are for the shed. The working group can then schedule the first official meetings of your Shed in the Sponsor’s facilities and begin promoting your Shed and inviting other men (and women) to come visit and join the new Shed.
- Register Your Shed
If you find there is enough interest in the community to form a Men’s Shed, use the Working Group to do the planning necessary to start holding regular meeting and identifying possible activities for the members to participate in. The Working Group can also pick an official name for your shed, and even register the name if you’d like. Then, you can contact the US Men’s Sheds Association to register your Shed’s name, location, and at least one individual as the contact point for your new Men’s Shed.
At any time before or during your efforts to start your local Men’s Shed, feel free to contact other US Men’s Sheds or the US Men’s Sheds National Association. We have all the materials and informational support you’ll need to get your Men’s Shed off to a successful start.