Success in the Fundraising Market

AWAI member Kathy Widenhouse is living a copywriter’s dream. Some of you may remember Kathy from past issues of The Golden Thread. She’s a musician, a mom … and now a professional copywriter, specializing in the fundraising market.

Here’s what Kathy recently shared with us about her dream job:

"I’ve been working with nonprofit organizations for 6 months now, and I have more work than I can handle. More importantly, my copywriting skills are helping organizations help other people. And THAT’S a great feeling."

Kathy noted that nonprofits need writers for more than just fundraising campaigns. "They need newsletters, short radio scripts, phone scripts, brochures, biographical summaries, editing, grant letters, articles – you name it."

In other words, there’s plenty of opportunity for you in fundraising – one of the fastest-growing and top-paying markets for copywriters and designers.

In Issue #167 of The Golden Thread [April 11], fundraising expert Mal Warwick delivered powerful advice on honing your writing skills specifically for the fundraising market. He revealed to me that he pays his best writers some of the highest fees in the industry … $100 per hour or more.

If you work just 20 hours each week at $100 per hour, you’d easily hit that lofty mark of $100,000 every year – working parttime.

Today, I’m going to tell you about two incredible resources to help you start your campaign to find a match between your interests and the thousands of nonprofit organizations that could hire you: www.charitynavigator.org and www.guidestar.org.

Charity Navigator provides a free ranking of the nation’s 3,900 largest charities. (Read that as 3,900 opportunities to work for nonprofit organizations with multimillion-dollar expense budgets to pay writers and designers.)

And the site is incredibly easy to use. Once you get on their homepage, you can zero in on your choice of fundraising organizations three different ways.

  • Interested in working for a specific type of nonprofit (environmental groups, for example)? Simply click "Browse by Category." You’ll find 219 organizations that fit your interests.
  • Perhaps you’d like to stay close to home. If so, click on "Search by Region." A search on the Pacific West turned up 641 organizations.
  • Or, you can do a keyword search if you already know the name of the group you’d like to target … or if your interests aren’t covered in the other two search categories.

Charity Navigator dedicates a page to each of the organizations they evaluate. You’ll find all the contact information you need to send your personal self-promo package – including the organization’s website, address, and phone number. (Use the phone number to get the name of the organization’s campaign manager.) And it gives additional information to help you figure out if this is a group you want to work for (its rating among peers, organizational efficiency, etc.).

Guidestar.org is another incredible resource – a database of over 1 million nonprofits. You’ll find information on organizations that are considerably smaller than those rated by Charity Navigator … and smaller often means a more accessible way to build your all-important portfolio.

To locate Guidestar’s search function, click on "More Search Options" just under the "Search for Nonprofits" box on the home page. (Or, you can register for Guidestar EZ. It’s also free.) You’ll find that you can target charities by zip code, category, or a number of other methods. For example, a category browse for "Youth Development" turned up nearly 23,000 entries.

That’s all there is to getting all the information you need about the many potential clients in this very rewarding market.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: April 25, 2005

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