I’ve posted on the subject of charity before but because it was so long ago, I thought I’d revisit the subject.
I’ve been fortunate to be interviewed by readers and bloggers from around the world. My most recent interview was with Pioneer Books in Hungary in advance of the release of the Hungarian translation of “Gabriel’s Inferno.” (They’re running a contest where you can win a trip to Florence here.)
Often I’m asked about my charity work. I enjoy answering those questions because it gives me an opportunity to highlight some of the causes that I care about. Rarely am I asked why I support charities and development organizations. I think this is because the importance of charitable work is obvious and this importance transcends countries, cultures, and religions.
But putting together my work as an author and some of my private charitable commitments wasn’t obvious to me at the beginning of my fiction writing. I had charitable involvement in my private life and I was a novelist. But I wasn’t doing both at the same time. It was only after I’d heard of writers donating original short works or copies of their novels for fundraisers, such as for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, that it occurred to me this was something I could and should do.
Once “Gabriel’s Inferno” was published, I developed a social media presence. This enabled me to be more intentional about focusing people’s attention on charity, but once again, the opportunity wasn’t obvious initially. It was only after I read “Twitter for Good” and met Heather Huffman that I realized I could do more.
“Twitter for Good” highlights the ways in which this social medium can be used to effect positive change in the world. I’m sure we’re all familiar with cases in which Twitter is used for less than noble purposes. Claire Diaz-Ortiz argues that there is a tremendous opportunity for us as Twitter users to change that and she highlights several different ways that we can do so. For me, Miss Diaz-Ortiz’s work was a wake-up call.
Then I came across a review of Heather Huffman’s book “Throwaway.” I was intrigued and decided to visit Heather’s website. I discovered that she is an anti-slavery/anti-human trafficking activist who uses her skills as a writer to raise awareness about these issues. She also donates a portion of her royalties to support organizations who combat slavery and human trafficking.
(NB: Some of you are already aware that Heather and I are planning to co-author a romantic comedy in order to raise money for charity. We’ve already begun and I can tell you, I’m already enamoured of the characters we’ve created. While we don’t have a release date yet and we’ve both been busy with other projects, I’m committed to finishing this work. So please stay tuned for more information.)
Once I became aware of the fact that I could do more as an author to highlight charities, I started to make some changes. On Twitter and sometimes on Facebook, I’ve begun posting a charity highlight of the day. You can see the charities and organizations I follow here. You’ll notice that many of the charities deal with poverty and homelessness, while others address human trafficking, health, grief and bereavement, and fair trade.
I’m not the only one in the writing/reading/blogging community who is doing this. Many of the book blogs I interact with have hosted giveaways to raise money for charities or for disaster relief. It’s always inspiring to see readers, writers, and bloggers come together for a good cause and I’m very proud of the work that has been done together by these groups.
I’m also inspired by the volunteer work readers do in their own communities. Argyle Empire has put together a series of posts on the charities I support. They recently highlighted one reader’s involvement with her local Covenant House.
So if someone asks you – why support a charity? I think there are a number of different answers.
First, it’s important to serve something other than yourself. The purpose of life isn’t to accumulate stuff or to hoard goods while others are in need.
Second, supporting charities can inspire others to do the same. This multiplies the good work.
Third, supporting charities is a way of giving back to yourself. You never know when you or someone you love will need the charitable outreach you’ve been supporting. We are all connected.
Fourth, supporting charities is a way of receiving inspiration and encouragement as you see people from around the world come together to give to those in need. When you read the newspaper and see a particularly horrifying story, it helps to have a little good news to counterbalance it.
Social media can be used for good or not. I choose to use it for good and I ask you to join with me in doing so as well.
All the best and thank you for your support,