Helping Yourself By Helping Others By Marie E. Cecchini

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If you’ve never given a second thought to the idea of writing for a non-profit organization, it may be time to think again. In their never-ending search for funding, non-profit organizations are constantly in need of copy to promote their cause, update the public, and seek donations. Efforts to do this can require producing flyers, newsletters, pamphlets, booklets, and even radio and/or television spots – all of which require writing. That’s where you come in.

So, what is your passion? Is it people, animals, education, children, the environment? Whatever it is, you can bet there is at least one non-profit organization dedicated to the same subject. Chances are also good that you already know a little bit about this subject and probably have the desire to learn more. Knowledge and enthusiasm can only enhance your writing.

Where do you begin? First stop, the web. To find non-profit organizations in your area, search http://www.local.com. Organizations throughout the U.S. can be located through http://www.guidestar.org or http://www.idealist.org. These sites should help you begin to create a list of organizations that share your passion, most of which will have websites.

Visit the sites. Examining the website of each organization on your list will tell you a number of things. If the site contains articles, you will know they use articles. If they have a brochure you can print or send for, you know they publish brochures. If they invite you to sign up for their newsletter – well, you get the picture. If there’s writing to be done, you could be the person to do it.

Make contact. From the website you should have a basic understanding of what the organization does. Now you will want to find out if they have a need you can fill. Most sites contain contact information. Now is the time to use it. Personally, I found emailing to ask whether or not they use freelance material to be effective. You can express your mutual concerns about the subject and include any relevant credits you may have. They need to know that you are very interested and well qualified. Remember to include your contact information.

Field your replies. With any luck, you’ll get one or more responses from organizations in need. Some of the responses I received included a list of what the organization published and a copy of their writer’s guidelines. Most requested a writing sample. I prepared fresh samples geared specifically for the organizations. It was time well spent. My targeted samples were occasionally purchased on the spot and I hooked up with a regular “gig”.

By putting your time and talent where your heart is, you too could be looking at a regular paycheck. You’ll be helping yourself, while helping others.

Below is a list of additional websites for specific non-profit organizations.

Education:

http://www.donorschoose.org – This organization works with individual school curriculum needs.

http://www.firstbook.org – Works to inspire a love of reading in low-income families by providing books for children in need.

World Hunger:

http://www.hungerfund.org – This organization aids children throughout the world and finances long-term programs, such as teaching local populations about nutrition.

http://www.secondharvest.org – “Harvest” distributes food and grocery products to needy families throughout the U.S.

Children:

http://www.worldvision.org – Provides various types of services for impoverished and “in crisis” children around the world.

http://www.wish.org – Helps enrich the lives of critically ill children by granting one wish every 41 minutes.

Environment:

http://www.conservationfund.org – Maintains wetlands, restores forests, and protects wildlife throughout the U.S.

http://www.savethemanatee.org – Rescues and rehabilitates the threatened manatees, while conserving their habitat.

Woman’s Rights:

http://www.care.org – Teaches literacy, business skills, and self-sufficiency to women and girls.

http://www.madebysurvivors.com – This organization offers a new life to those trafficked into slavery overseas.

Disaster Relief:

http://www.americares.org – Aids victims of wars and natural disasters worldwide.

http://www.mercycorps.org – Sustains relief efforts and creates programs to assist areas ravaged by severe poverty, conflict, and natural disaster.

Marie Cecchini is a former educator who has been writing informational material for writers, teachers, parents, and children for over 15 years.