Now that Black Friday is behind us and we’ve all done our holiday shopping, we can take a moment to think about another important part of the holiday season; fundraising and charitable giving.
Okay, I know you just did a bunch of shopping for heartfelt gifts for your friends and family. And that’s important! But it’s also important, if you can, to give something back.
More Than An Open Wallet
Making the argument that authors should be donating more time or money is tough. It’s hard enough to make a living as a writer or creator. If you can give, that’s great! Here are a few resources we found this year that are terrific ways to give back.
For everyone else, I’d like to talk about a different aspect of giving. I’m talking about storytelling.
I’m just going to assume we’re all a little familiar with storytelling, right?
We All Crave Stories
That hasn’t changed and surely won’t. Stories are central to our society. They share history, emotions, and so much more. And in the modern world, content is the central piece of everything we do. To the benefit of writers, story and content go hand-in-hand.
Tying this all back to the giving season; charitable organizations that excel often do so thanks to great storytelling. As a storyteller, you have a unique opportunity this holiday season to promote a charity or organization you love.
Everyone craves stories. This holiday season, consider giving your favorite charities or community organizations a little love with your own story.
What I’m suggesting is that you give a little space in your December marketing plan to a charity, foundation, or community organization that means something to you and that you think will resonate with your followers.
Doing this allows you to give something valuable to a cause without spending any money. And for creators with a devoted audience, sharing something personal, like a cause you care about, can help build that relationship.
You get to promote a cause you love, your readers get to know you a little better, and the cause you’re championing gets more attention. It’s a win-win-win.
Promoting A Cause
Let’s say you’ve decided you want to tell your followers about a program like Bookaid International, which helps get books to libraries and underserved communities. This organization has an entire marketing department working to promote themselves, but you bring your unique audience and story.
For example, you might write a blog post about the first time someone gave you a book. Maybe that act of kindness helped spur a love of reading that led you to write.
That’s a terrific story! And it pairs up precisely with an organization like Bookaid. The gift of a book moved you; now you want to help others feel that same joy.
The blog post makes great social media and email material (I’m sure you already know that). Just like that, your story and the cause you want to champion is out there connecting with your readers.
Look, let’s be honest. You’re always going to be promoting yourself and your brand, even when you’re being altruistic. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
What makes this kind of self-promotion really special is that the content you’re sharing is distinctly personal. Network For Good identified seven reasons people will give. One of these reasons was Trust. You can create that trust! If you know an organization is worthy of donating to and your followers trust you; that trust in you can transfer to a trust in the organization.
And when your reader comes away feeling amazing for giving to a worthy charity, you’ll have strengthened their position as a devoted follower. All you need to do is share a heartfelt story that connects to your preferred organization.
If you wanted to treat this like a normal marketing campaign (which it kind of is), you might define your goal as ‘getting attention.’
Back in 2009, the NYT’s blogger Nicholas Kristof had this to say about humanitarian charities: “Any brand of toothpaste is peddled with far more sophistication than the life-saving work of aid groups.” Pretty scathing. He goes on to explain that aid groups marketed themselves with facts and figures when they should have been using stories.
Today, there certainly are groups still struggling to brand themselves. But by-and-large, organizations understand the value of storytelling, of sharing content, and of putting a human face on their brand.
In this way, you can uniquely help your chosen cause by acting as a human face and telling a story to your own network.
Giving A Story
It’s been a weird year. I know many of us are looking for ways to close 2020 on a positive.
If you’re a writer or creator, finding a charity to promote to your followers might be the perfect option. You can stay ‘on-brand’ because the cause will be personal to you. And even if your followers aren’t interested in supporting this cause, the act of opening up about yourself still builds your author-reader relationship.
And finally, is there anything better than giving away a story? I don’t think there is.
Using Lulu To Give
While we focused today on ways you can use your skills to support a cause you love; you can also use Lulu’s payment profiles to financially support charities and organizations.
For example, imagine you’re a cookbook author and you want to support causes that fights hunger. You could create a special edition of one (or multiple) of your cookbooks, perhaps with some personal stories that tie you to your cause.
Then you can reach out to the organization you’re supporting to get their contact info (either an address to send a check to or an email address associated with a PayPal account) and make that organization a payee! Select a percent of the total revenue to give them and each sale will bank dollars for your favorite cause.
Storytelling might not be the first thing you consider when thinking of how to give back. But even if you don’t have funds to donate, you can still support causes that matter to you and grow your writing practice at the same time!
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.