Whether it’s a fondness for animals in need, a longing to help the environment or a desire to help at the local food bank, everyone seems to have a cause that’s close to their heart.
As a writer, you may have unique opportunities to offer special assistance to these causes.
Read on for ideas about how to give back to the community using your writing skills.
1. Volunteer your writing skills for a nonprofit
While many larger nonprofits can afford to pay professional writers a good wage, many smaller nonprofits simply don’t have the funds to pay writers.
While working for free is controversial among professional writers, some choose to donate their time and skills to causes close to their hearts.
For example, you may wish to support a local animal adoption center and volunteer to write a weekly email newsletter about animals awaiting adoption. Or, you might like to work on website content for a local soup kitchen, or perhaps write a donor appeal for an environmental organization you love.
How do you decide if you’d like to donate your time rather than request a paycheck? That’s a personal decision for each writer. Some decide never to write for free and instead donate their time in other ways or donate money instead. Others decide offering their writing skills is the best way they can contribute.
One key point you’ll want to remember, though, is volunteering to write for a nonprofit is very different from pitching articles about a nonprofit you support. Generally, if you volunteer for a nonprofit and support it with your time or money, that would be a conflict of interest that would prevent you from writing a journalistic piece about the nonprofit. If you’re not sure if your particular situation is a conflict of interest, be sure to ask your editor ahead of time.
2. Use your social media skills
If you have a wide social media reach, consider publicizing the efforts of your favorite nonprofits through your social media outlets.
You can share the organization’s accomplishments, ask people to participate in an upcoming pledge drive, ask for people to come to a tree planting event or just highlight the good work they do.
f you are skilled with social media, consider volunteering to assist the social media efforts of a nonprofit that you love. Writing posts and sharing information can be a great way to contribute.
3. Volunteer in your local writing community
Helping a good cause can also mean helping other writers.
If your area has an active local writing community, get involved and see how you can volunteer.
Consider volunteering at a local writing conference. You could do anything from introduce speakers to move chairs or hand out name tags. You’ll often receive free admission to the conference for your assistance.
You could also consider organizing and helping with other local writing events, such as author readings. Not only will you spend your time supporting the local writing community, but you may also make valuable connections and build your name in the local writing community.
And if there isn’t currently an active writing scene near you, consider starting one. You don’t have to put an entire conference together. It could be as simple as organizing a poetry reading with a few of your friends at your favorite coffee shop and publicizing it on social media.
4. Support a cause and yourself
Another way some writers choose to contribute to their local community is to support them in a way that’s a bit more visible.
If you have a writing business, say, “Jane Smith Writes, LLC,” and you’d like to support a youth sports team, for example, you may be able to contribute in a way that helps the team and also raises awareness of your business.
Some sports teams recognize sponsors by printing business names on team jerseys or in event programs. A writing business can receive this publicity just like a hardware store or insurance company would. You could sponsor a seat in a new community events center, paint a fundraising brick at a new park, or be a recognized sponsor for an event using your business name.
Be sure to consult with your tax preparer to see if any potential donations are tax deductible.
Be sure to vet the organization
Whether you’re donating time or money, it makes sense to spend a little time investigating the cause you’re supporting.
If it’s a small, close-to-home organization and you know some of the key players involved, that may be enough to satisfy your due diligence.
But with larger organizations or national charities, many people prefer to spend a bit more time investigating. Websites like Charity Navigator help evaluate organizations and how they use the funds they raise. You can also often check tax records and audited financial statements online when groups choose to make those available. You’ll have to decide what works for you.
However you decide to support your favorite worthy cause, know that your efforts can make a huge difference and help that organization provide important services.
Do you have a favorite way to use your writing skills to give back?