Start a Shed

It’s great that you’re thinking of starting your own Men’s Shed in your community. With over 2,000 Men’s Sheds world wide in twelve different countries, a lot has been learned about different ways to get started. We call one the Independent-Approach and the other the Sponsorship-Approach.

Sponsorship Approach:  This approach is used if you want to create a new Men’s Shed under the sponsorship 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 or very little startup expenses.  The organization can hold an Information Meeting and begin holding regular meetings immediately, without having to file for an EIN 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 of whom have been formed under their local city Community and Activity Centers.

Independent Approach.  This approach is used if you want to create a new Men’s Shed as a standalone, independent entity rather than from within an existing non-profit or community organization. Experience tells us it is much easier to accomplish starting an “Independent Shed” if there are at least two or three guys with the same or similar vision. The first step on this journey is to hold an information meeting.  Out of this information meeting there is usually formed a working group or “Steering Committee”. This working group will initially have three primary responsibilities which it should begin working on simultaneously.  Usually the first step is to create a legal entity and obtain an EIN.  Now you are ready to apply for 501(c)3 non-profit status.  This usually takes 4 to 6 weeks once you have filled in the 1023ez form and submitted to the IRS.  It is a good idea now to begin searching out and locating a venue for your shed.  These prerequisites should be in motion or complete before you accept or spend too much money. For example these are the processes that have been utilized by the Honolulu Men’s Shed and the Travers City Men’s Shed here in the US.  The USMSA is always available to answer your questions and help along the way.

Sponsorship-Approach Independent-Approach
The members lead the effort to start the new Shed with help from Sponsor. You or your Committee lead the effort to start a new Shed
You register your Men’s Shed with ChangeX for free You file for a legal name with your state government and EIN with the IRS.
You use the Sponsors 501(c) 3 Non-Profit Status You file for a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Status
You meet at the Sponsors venue You acquire your own local venue
You are covered by Sponsors insurance You purchase liability insurance to cover your shed and activities.

The Sponsorship-Approach to Forming a New Men’s Shed

In the Sponsorship-Approach, someone in an existing community such as a 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 start a Shed.

1. 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  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.

2. Hold an 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 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.

3. Form a Working Group

Hopefully your information evening has been successful.  Hopefully, coming out of that meeting you have at least 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 the Shed and inviting other men (and women) to come visit and join the new Shed.

4. Register Your Shed

One of the Working Group members registers your Shed’s name and location through US Men’s Sheds partner ChangeX. Now you are ready to begin the planning necessary to start holding regular meetings 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.

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. This working group will initially have three primary responsibilities which it should begin working on simultaneously:  1. Create a legal entity and obtain an EIN.  2. Apply for 501(c)3 non-profit status and, 3. Begin searching out and locating a venue for your shed.  These prerequisites should be in motion or complete before you accept or spend too much money. This was the process used by the Honolulu Men’s Shed and the Traverse City Men’s Shed here in the US.  Contact USMSA with questions.

1. Get a few 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 men and the community. Local non-profits, 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.

2. 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 or 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 people would like to do for activities and what types of venues they might prefer. This meeting can be held anywhere you like.

3. 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 the groups visions are for the shed.  It’s very important for everyone to feel invested in the mission.  Do the research from a dozen countries such as Australia, Ireland, Canada, United Kingdom, Wales and the US. Questions; talk to members of the USMSA.  We have done it ourselves, as well we have assisted many in the process.

4. Managing / Planning / Registering

Your first steps are to pick an official name for your shed by contacting the Office of Secretary of State in your state. There you apply for incorporation. Next, contact the IRS for an EIN,  employer identification number.  This can be done 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 a 1023 ez form.

5. Find a Suitable Premises

Once you have completed the above steps, you are ready to identify a venue for your shed.  This can be done in several different ways.  You can locate vacant buildings or vacant spaces within buildings from many sources.  If you have questions, contact us at the USMSA.

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.