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Give it away! by Jim Hart

In my 12 years working for a faith-based social agency I learned to really appreciate our volunteersFYLN4CE6C7 and the work they did with us. We had hundreds of different volunteers every week. Volunteers are important! USA Today reported over one million volunteers headed to the Gulf region in the years following hurricane Katrina.

I want to encourage you, as a writer, to look for opportunities to volunteer your writing skills. What comes easy to you can be difficult for many others.

There are many non-profits that would benefit from your skills as a writer: a local church, ministry, library, school, animal shelter, civic theater group, local food bank, and other non-profits – they all need professional content written on a regular basis. Content such as newsletters, bulletins, web posts, news releases, reviews, etc.

Here are just four benefits and positive outcomes from volunteering as a writer:

  1. It will hone your writing skills. I went to New Orleans twice after Katrina to just hang drywall. A lot of drywall. And now I possess better drywall skills. Of course the same goes for writing. Especially if you’re writing on a deadline.
  1. Serving others strengthens communities. Strong communities build strong nations. Our nation seems to be mired in consumerism and selfishness. Volunteering effectively combats a selfish, consumer mentality. It’s good to enter someone else’s world. As Christians we are called to serve, in both small and large ways. After Katrina I had conversations with people that may not have been previously open to the Gospel. It opened up opportunities to share Christ, and it caused them to consider the church differently.
  1. Builds network and platform. You’ll be amazed at the people that you will meet while volunteering. Writing content also gives you something to add to your resume and proposal.
  1. Could lead to larger, paid opportunities. Non-profits will often offer to interview volunteers for some of their open paid positions. Your skills as a writer may be mentioned to another organization that is able to pay professional writers for their work. I was once a volunteer at a Meals on Wheels, years later managing another Meals on Wheels kitchen became part of my duties with the faith-based agency that hired me. Part of the practical experience I brought with me to my new position was how to relate with, and direct groups of volunteers.
  1. It’s a good time! When you are “just a volunteer” the job stress is not on you. You are still responsible to deliver what you’ve agreed to, and to finish the assigned task (especially if you want to be asked to return), but in a volunteer support role, there is a freedom to just do the job while the paid staff deals with the stress.


I hope this encourages you to reach out into your community and find ways to bless others with your writing talent. If you’ve already been volunteering your writing skills, let us know what you’ve experienced.









  1. Steve Hooley says:

    Wonderful ideas, Jim.

    I really appreciate the practical applications you suggest. The Lord must be speaking to me, because over at Chip MacGregor’s site he blogged about aiming for being significant (service) rather than aiming to be successful (focus on ourselves). Did you guys decide to team up?

    I hear you. I love the ideas. It will make a difference in some planning I am currently doing.

    Thanks for being “significant.”

  2. I call it casting your bread upon the waters. I will definitely be sharing this with my clients. Thanks Jim.

  3. Carole Brown says:

    Well said, true and applicable. I’ve found it so in my own life. Appreciate you reinforcing the thoughts today! Thanks, Jim, and Diana–for bringing it specifically to our attention.

  4. Sue Ciullo says:

    Well said, Jim. I do try to offer my writing skills whenever a need presents itself, but I’ve not been so good at actively seeking volunteer writing opportunities. Thanks for the helpful nudge, and for being the kind of person who doesn’t need to be nudged to share your writing talents.

  5. Good practical advice. Thanks for passing it along.

  6. These are wonderful thoughts on the power of volunteerism. As one who lives in the “Volunteer State” of Tennessee, I especially appreciate your words of challenge and encouragement.

  7. This is really a great post. Something I think about a lot in my own writing. I think writers have a responsibility to our communities and we receive such blessings by serving them. Thanks for this reminder and encouraging words.

  8. Great ideas here, Jim. I have seen firsthand how genuinely surprised and thankful people are when we offer something that perhaps they’ve never been offered before. And in many instances, it can be a great way to say thanks for how we’ve benefited from their work/services as well.

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