Can You Use Your Writing Career to Increase Your Charitable Pursuits?

giving back to the community

If you want to grow your wealth so you can donate more, a writing career should probably be the last thing in your mind. Though fulfilling, writers and authors don’t make much at all. Of course, famous authors like J. K. Rowling are exceptions. Billionaire authors have published exceptional works that not many aspiring writers can pull off.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make a fortune as a small-time author. For instance, there are ingenious strategies that’ll allow you to sell a million copies of your books per year. Self-publishing your books is one. That way, most of the sales goes to straight to you. But you have to market your books yourself and write many of them.

If you’re going for the traditional route, your publisher has to see a market for your books. You might lose a little control in this because you get paid royalty instead of sales. And many traditionally published authors have claimed that it took them time to receive their royalty fees.

So how will you make enough money to donate? Try these tactics:

1. Read Books About Charity Work

To learn the comings and goings of charity work, read books about it. After doing so, maybe you’d be inspired to write your book about charity, too. But the main benefit of reading charity books is that it would open your eyes to the true extent of the world’s problems.

Voluntary sector professionals have named the five books they’d recommend to charitable people and writers like you:

  • ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains’ by Tracey Kidder—a non-fiction book about a medic’s quest to treat infectious diseases
  • ‘Managing Without Profit’ by Mike Hudson—a reference for navigating the minefields of charity governance
  • ‘The Networked Non-profit’ by Katie Delahaye Paine and Beth Kanter—non-fiction explaining how charities can use social media for campaigns
  • ‘The Directory of Grant Making Trusts’—a list of grant making trusts with access to nearly £4 billion to donate to charities
  • ‘The Pleasure and the Pain: The No-fibbing Guide to Working with People’ by Debra Allock—a self-help book that discusses how to bring out the best of people at work and other settings

Pick up any of these books, and you can start your journey to making a philanthropic writing career.

Woman writing notes on a small notebook

2. Write a Fiction Book About Social and Environmental Issues

If fiction is your forte, try writing a book with social or environmental issues themes. To raise awareness of poverty, you can draw inspiration from the following books:

  • ‘Girls Burn Brighter’ by Shobhoa Rao—a book set in Southern India that tackles domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism
  • ‘We Need New Names’ by NoViolet Bulawayo—a book with a ten-year-old heroine navigating life as an immigrant in the United States.
  • ‘What is the What’ by Dave Eggers—a book that raises awareness about the lives of refugees in the United States.

If you’d instead focus on environmental issues, these books can influence your draft:

  • ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck—a sci-fi dystopia about a man-made climate disaster
  • ‘The Drowned World’ by J. G. Ballard—another sci-fi dystopia depicting our world in the year 2145, when tropical swamps and jungles dominate most of the Earth’s surface
  • ‘Salvage the Bones’ by Jesmyn Ward—a story narrating how climate disasters affect the most vulnerable

Some young adult books also effectively tackle social issues, especially racism, police brutality, and sexual abuse. Examples are ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas, ‘Patron Saints of Nothing’ by Randy Ribay, and ‘Girls of Paper and Fire’ by Natasha Ngan.

3. Start a Charitable Organization

Once you’ve jumpstarted your writing career, begin setting up your charitable organization. It’s the ultimate way to give back and hold philanthropic activities. You don’t need a lot of money to register a non-profit; in the UK, an annual income of no less than £5,000 is enough.

Use charity matching software to track the donations of your volunteers, trustees, and readers. Then you can match the amount of money they raise and use it to fund a project.

Your NGO’s projects should be close to your heart so that you can commit to them. Better yet, connect them to the kinds of books you write. For example, J. K. Rowling’s Lumos Foundation helps institutionalized children across Europe find safer, more caring places to live. They are assisting real-life Harry Potters find loving homes.

If you don’t want to set up a non-profit, you can donate to one instead. Consider Lumos Foundation, Dean and Gerda Koontz Foundation (by author Dean Koontz), and the non-profits your favorite authors donate to.

Any of your written works—be it a novel, blog, or poetry—can influence readers to give back and change lives. Pour your heart out into your work, and you’ll meet your philanthropic goals.

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Publish on Demand Global is an online publication dedicated to writers and authors. We feature articles and resources to help you write, publish, market and earn from your writing. You’ll find practical guides, insights and in-depth publishing information that will help you succeed in the publishing business. 

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