By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning content writer and author who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
You want to write for your favorite cause, but you are not sure where to find freelance writing jobs with nonprofits — ones that will pay you. The good news is that no matter what your interest is, there are hundreds of nonprofits working in that niche. And there is a proven way you can discover how and where to find freelance writing jobs that will help them carry out their wonderful work.
Hundreds of opportunities? Yes. There are 1.7 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S. alone. They include public charities, private foundations, chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations, and civic leagues. Together, these agencies contributed an estimated $1.05 trillion to the U.S. economy in a year. (That’s trillion with a T, by the way.) And that doesn’t include thousands of non-government organizations across the globe.
My point: nonprofits represent a huge market. For example, you may be familiar with the local food bank that runs monthly food drives, by there are thousands of similar food security organizations all across the country and the world that need content. And many of those agencies don’t have staff writers. They need content providers.
And there is a proven way to discover where to find freelance writing jobs for those organizations. It’s proven because I’ve used this approach myself. You simply need to know where to look.
Nonprofit clients do not fall out of thin air and into your inbox. They need to know you’re out there and that you want to write for them. You need to introduce yourself to them on paper, in an email, and on the phone — or all three.
Fortunately, nonprofit listings are publicly available. That access makes it easy to find freelance writing jobs online. There are at least two places to start: clearinghouses and associations.
These offer agency names and contact information so you know where they are, what they do, and who in the organization to pitch to. And clearinghouses also publish each agency’s financials. This can give you the assurance that you’re reaching out to a prospect that, if you’re hired, will pay you. Three clearinghouses to check out are:
These are groups of people or organizations that have a common cause, interest, or purpose. There are at least 90,000 associations in the U.S. that are registered as nonprofit organizations. Type “association for + [your area of interest]” into your search engine and you’ll see what I mean.
Let’s say you’re interested in nonprofits that focus on animal rescue and animal services. You hop on the clearinghouses and browse rated charities by category. In Charity Navigator, for instance, you click on “Animals” and see that there are 531 nonprofit organizations that you can contact to offer your writing services. (Here are steps to take as you approach those clients.)
Or, perhaps you have a specific interest or skill, you can find an applicable association. Often, you can obtain a list of members by asking for it – or even by joining. For instance, let’s say you have experience in the Southern Baptist Convention as an officer. You can go to the convention’s website, download a list of the 41 convention boards across the US, complete with contact information. You can also get a list of 51,149 churches in the denomination. You can see how you have plenty of potential clients that you can pitch to.
Now that you know where to find freelance writing jobs with nonprofits and you’ve got a list of prospects, what’s next?
Write a prospecting letter or email. Or call your prospects and offer your services. Track your contacts and responses. Keep in mind that prospecting is a numbers game. A 2–4% response is excellent … a 0.5% response is more typical. In other words, make a plan to pitch to at least a couple hundred prospects. Get one or two clients and you’re on your way.
Your email or letter or call may come at just the perfect time for one nonprofit but may get buried in another’s stack. Nonprofit leaders are busy. Follow up and always keep track of your interactions.
Focus on offering quality services. Content writing skills transfer across for-profit and non-profit genres. If a client asks, “Have you written a newsletter?” but you haven’t yet done so for a nonprofit, you can respond with “I’ve edited newsletters for small businesses (or whatever niche you’ve served).” Have your clips ready to share. If you don’t have a specific skill — say grant writing — then take a course and learn.
Elna Cain has a terrific course that explains how to get your first clients, whether they're for-profit or nonprofits. (See Write Your Way to $1K).
When I started out as a writer, I didn’t know where to find freelance writing jobs in my niche — faith-based ministries. Then I found the ECFA website. I created a spreadsheet to track my prospecting and pitched to 80 nonprofit prospects a week. After a few weeks, I landed my first gig. After three months, I had plenty of work.
There’s plenty of work out there for you, too. Your favorite cause needs your writing skills. You simply need to know where to find freelance writing jobs with nonprofits …and then pitch until you find the ones that need you.
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