In some cases, a person may decide to form a non-profit to address a cause that may be personal to them. Recently, President Obama announced the formation of a public-private foundation to help address issues affecting those who may feel disenfranchised. Some of my friends and I formed a non-profit to raise awareness of societal issues through sports.
During the formation process, I found several online resources that could help people aspiring to form their own charity. One such resource is the Digital Media Law Project, found at http://www.dmlp.org. On its website, you can find links to various guides for non-profit formation. I found the guides detailed with links to the various federal and state regulation websites.
As always, you should seek legal counsel when looking to form any enterprise, including a non-profit. And remember kindness and love are powerful agents for positive change.