Making a Difference for Writers on a Shoestring Budget

untitled“I didn’t notice it going,” Canadian novelist, Deborah Ellis, says in a 2012 MacLean’s Magazine article.  “It’s all whisked away before I see it, like an automatic savings plan.”

Ellis was referring to her donation of over $1 million in royalties from her popular Afghanistan tween trilogy, The Breadwinner, Parvana’s Journey, and Mud City, money that has gone to causes dear to Ellis such as the literacy-focused Canadian Women For Afghanistan.

Ellis is not the only writer devoted to large-scale philanthropy. Topping a long list of generous donors is J.K. Rowling. In addition to the $160 million she already contributed to various charity organizations from her Harry Potter series, Rowling recently announced that all royalties from her adult crime novel, Cuckoo’s Calling (under the pseudonym Robert Gailbraith) will go to The Soldiers’ Charity, an organization that provides support for British soldiers and their families   Also on the list of generous benefactors, romance novelist Nora Roberts who donated $3 million to The Nora Roberts Foundation, which supports literacy.

Admirable as these donations are, most writers are hardly in a position to give back in such magnitudes.  According to a 2010 Writers’ Union of Canada article, incomes for authors of books in Canada average less than $12,000. Another source pegged the annual average in royalties for fiction writers at $500.

How can cash-strapped writers bent on philanthropy give back?  While there are dozens of volunteering opportunities in every community, here are a few for writers who want to make a difference without shelling out money or leaving their keyboards.


GoodearchThe principle behind GOODSEARCH is simple.  For each search conducted on Goodsearch’s search engine about a penny from advertisers goes to a designated charity or cause.   Considering the number of searches most writers conduct, the pennies add up, especially when thousands of other users are contributing the same way. A few things to keep in mind: You must use the GOODSEARCH search engine which is patent-protected and Yahoo!-powered.  A number of the charities on the extensive list are rooted in the U.S., but there are international ones too, such as Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Make A Wish, Salvation Army and World Vision.

For further details, check the GOODSEARCH website:

Care 2

care2If you have a cause you are passionate about or an issue you feel needs attention whether it involves local politics, animal welfare, literacy, human rights, or the flow of traffic down your street, CARE 2 may be for you. Start an online petition on the CARE 2 site, interest others in adding their signatures, and CARE 2 becomes a way to affect change.  Petitions are tracked on so it’s easy to tally signatures and just as easy to sign up for causes you might want to support.

For more, check the CARE 2 website:

Infinite Family

infinite familyThe site INFINITE FAMILY uses weekly one-on-one 30 minute video conversations to link adults around the world with youth of the sub-Sahara affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty. Mentors undergo a short online training program to help them understand culture, technology and the needs of their mentees. Following the training, mentors are ready to chat to their Net Buddies and link with them through email exchanges or blog posts. The goal is to provide long-term, personalized interaction for disadvantaged youth to strengthen confidence, develop literacy skills, and enhance opportunities for global success.

The INFINITE FAMILY website is a rich resource of information about the mentoring approach.  While cash donations are gladly received, the focus here is on strengthening bonds and language proficiency, something writers of all income levels might find fits their mandates nicely.

For more detail, check out INFINITE FAMILY:



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