This past Saturday (November 4th), I donated to my favorite organization of all time, National Novel Writing Month. This was part of their Double-Up Donation Day, for which they raised over $112,000! (I'm writing this on the actual Saturday, so I don't know the final number yet, but it should be on their homepage).
I know I've talked about NaNo a lot, (like here... and here... and here...) but it's for a good reason (for a LOT of reasons, actually). Ever since I first joined the site in 2010, I have consistently written with them three times a year, always able to meet my goals and always ready to tell every living creature in sight about it.
Firstly, at its core, NaNoWriMo empowers writers. Before November 2010, I hadn't been able to type 'The End' on any original project over 30,000 words. Since then, I've written it 18 times, all for 50,000+ word novels. If it weren't for NaNoWriMo, I wouldn't have developed a real desire for writing as a young teen, which would never have exploded into a true passion in high school. Consequently, I would never have gone to college for Writing Communications. I would never have graduated, never have freelanced and never have gotten a full-time job as an English TA. (I'm still working on the publishing bit, but the good stuff takes time).
Basically: I kinda owe everything I have to NaNo.
This is what NaNoWriMo is all about. They're nonprofit, meaning they offer writers all over the world a chance to meet their goals for free. Throughout November, they send participants daily emails ("Pep Talks") with tips from professional, published authors just so participants can find extra motivation. They also host virtual Write-Ins (livestream YouTube videos) so writers can write together with organized prompts and sprints, and just have the chance to collaborate with people who are tackling the same challenges.
Additionally, they host the Young Writer's Program, something for which I am so grateful and of which I am most impressed. The NaNoWriMo staff provide FREE materials to classrooms and give young writers the chance to flourish as writers and advance their skills and passions. This is one of the single greatest things about NaNo, period. Speaking as someone who discovered my love for writing as a kid, seeing young people actually getting respect for their creativity gives me hope for the future. And now that I understand how hard it can be for teachers/instructors to give kids these chances, knowing that NaNo does it without charging a thing is astonishing.
Finally, NaNo gets the community involved. Their Come Write In program links libraries, bookstores and other locations to give people places to meet and write together. They create places for writers to build groups, to feel connected and to have a place just to create together. This organization cares about their participants so much, they're willing to actually cultivate their communities into better, more creative places.
This is just the bare bones. NaNoWriMo has done so much more for so many millions of people that I can't possibly fit all of it into one article. Please visit their About page to see more detailed descriptions about what they do and why it matters. If you're really moved (which I should hope you are) please Donate Now.
This organization is doing amazing things for a lot of people who otherwise may not be writers at all. Creativity is one of the few good things humanity has. I, for one, will always give support to people who make it a priority, and of these, NaNoWriMo will always be first and foremost.