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Write for a Non-Profit Newsletter

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 20 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Newsletter Organisation Agency Nonprofit

If you are devoted to the art of creative writing but have tired of being the only person to see your works, you may wish to find an outlet in which to showcase your burgeoning talents. However, it can be a tad daunting to blindly leap into the realm of freelance journalism, submitting pieces here and there and dealing with many editors and clients. Instead of hastily jumping into the pool, why not dip a cautious toe in the water and write newsletter pieces for an organisation whose mission you support?

There are plenty of not-for-profit agencies both in your region and on the national scene who either have regular newsletters or want to develop them. In the case of the former, the nonprofit is probably looking for useful, intriguing text to fill its pages; as for the latter, the nonprofit is likely eager to have something to send out to the public, but has no one to write such a document. Regardless, you may be the journalist whom they’ve been seeking, especially if you’re committed to producing tight, useful and creative copy at fixed intervals.

Of course, before you can approach an organisation, it’s wise to prepare beforehand. Consider these hints prior to making your pitch to the leader(s) in charge of the nonprofit and you’ll be in a better position to both help a cause and get your works “out there”.

  1. Understand the Agency

    Even if you’ve been working with the agency for whom you’re considering writing a newsletter (or parts of a news blog or .PDF report, which may be more apropos in today’s cyber market), make certain to do a little homework on its background. Understand the chain of command, the general mission and vision of the organisation, and the basic statistical data on the not-for-profit. That way, you’ll be more conversant on the entity as a whole… and better able to determine whether your writing style and ability would be a good fit.

    For instance, if you are desperate to publish witty essays and clever poetry, a serious-minded nonprofit focused on political change might be a poor match for your talents. However, an organisation devoted to helping children get excited about schooling could be the perfect venue for your writing gifts.

  2. Approach the Agency with Specific Ideas

    If the nonprofit you’re considering already has a newsletter, study what’s been written (most past newsletters are available online or can be obtained relatively easily). That way, when you let the person(s) in charge know that you want to write, you can “pitch” a few concepts based on what you’ve seen in their pages before.

    Alternatively, if the organisation has no newsletter or forum for disseminating information of a “folksy” nature to its constituents, you may want to offer up a one- or two-page concept to the powers that be. But don’t bite off more than you can chew; if you suggest that you could write something quite complicated or time-consuming; make sure you can deliver it.

  3. Nix the Concept of Receiving Payment

    Chances are slim that you will be paid for this venture; remember, your role will be to help out an agency while spreading your writing wings. Hence, do not go into the process expecting to use this opportunity to make a little spending money. Most nonprofit organisations do not have the coffers to pay someone to write a newsletter, as it would be seen as a waste of their limited funds.

    That being said, if you are unexpectedly offered a small stipend or some other perk as a thank you for your submissions, you can accept it gracefully and with a clear conscience.

  4. Only Recommend What You Can Deliver

    If you’re approaching an organisation, be certain to only suggest that you write what is actually feasible. Many new writers forget that just writing a simple 400-word monthly column takes time. And if you don’t have it to give, you shouldn’t offer it. Just because you probably aren’t being paid for this gig doesn’t give you an open invitation to send in information late or to take your assignments lightly.

    Therefore, be prudent. You can always add more to your plate once you realise the depth of your appetite.

  5. Have Fun with Your Experience

    Finally, allow yourself to enjoy this process! Though writing for a nonprofit newsletter isn’t the same thrill as publishing a book or getting a byline in an internationally-recognised publication, it still can have elements of excitement. After all, your personality can and will shine through your words, and you can impact readers, even if it’s only a handful of individuals. You’ll also be building your written portfolio of clips, a valuable resource should you decide to take the next step into a part-time foray into the world of creative freelancing.

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