Volunteering for Pay

© Dawn Carrington



In this economy, everyone is eager to work, needs to work, and has a hard time finding work, and when the bigger companies are laying off thousands of employees every few months, it can be disheartening for a freelance writer, especially one that is just getting started and has limited knowledge outside their current comfort zone.


Maybe you’ve gotten a job or two writing ad copy for a company that is now cutting back, and since you had just eased your foot inside that door, you’re not quite sure where to go from there. Or maybe you simply want to branch out into another area of copywriting but you don’t have enough knowledge about the subject. For whatever reason you want to gain some knowledge on another aspect of freelancing, there is a solution—volunteering.


The number of charities has grown exponentially over the past five years and, due to the current crises, will continue to grow. With that growth, comes the need for writers. Every organization needs to get the word out, receive donations, contact volunteers, and more. That’s where you come in.


If you want to write for doctors and hospitals, why not volunteer to write two or three short pieces of copy for the American Cancer Society or any number of health-related foundations? Interested in writing for newspapers, offer your services to the American Red Cross or The Salvation Army. You’ll gain valuable experience you can add to your resume, and it also adds appeal to your portfolio. In the meantime, you’ll be learning about topics unfamiliar to you which you can then turn into paying opportunities.


You can start with the local charities in your area. This is a great way to create goodwill in your neighborhood and could possibly create leads for the future. Try local domestic shelters, pet rescue centers, homeless shelters, and food pantries. Most of them are always in need of people who are willing to volunteer their skills in any way possible, and there are endless ways your writing abilities can help.


If you’re thinking you have no idea how to contact these charities or even what to say when you do finally reach someone, both of those questions are answered below.


First, if you need help finding charities, visit http://www2.guidestar.org. It provides comprehensive information on over 1.8 millions charities. When you find the charity that interests you, look for the volunteer link. There should be someone in charge of volunteering that you can contact. If that doesn’t work, look for the executive director. That office can put you in touch with the person you need to talk to.


Call the specific person, introduce yourself and let him or her know you are an experienced writer looking for volunteer opportunities and that you are specifically interested in their organization. Be upfront and tell them you do desire to eventually write for the healthcare market (or the actual market you’re interested in), but, at present, you need experience in that field. You are more than happy to offer your writing services in order to gain that experience but also so that this organization can benefit from your skills.


As you grow your writing portfolio, the door will open to other opportunities within the industry you seek. You might discover you have more assignments than you have time and you need to cut back. As much as you need to focus your time on paying assignments, though, keep the charities in mind. Not only have they helped you strengthen your writing muscles, they’ve helped to shore the foundation of your career.


And while you will gain valuable knowledge volunteering to write for charities, there is one additional thing you simply can’t put a monetary value to—the positive feeling knowing your talent is helping those in need.



About the author: Dawn Carrington is the editor-in-chief for Vintage Reflections Publishing. A multi-published author of fantasy and suspense novels, she frequently writes for magazines such as The Writer’s Journal, The Writer, and The Independent.
To learn more about Dawn or Vintage Romance Publishing, please visit
www.dawnrachel.com or www.vrpublishing.com.





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