Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Am Just A Writer

Back in the day when I used to work for an advocacy organisation and then later, an organisation that helped to raise funds for non-profits, my biggest frustration was that there were many people I could not help. Reasons were that:
  • The organisations I worked for were not donor organisations. They were advocacy organisations and/developed solutions that allowed companies and individuals to give to charities of THEIR CHOICE.
  • We lobbied for the Income Tax laws to be changed so that individuals and organisations that worked for the benefit of the public were recognised a such and people who supported received incentives to do so. Sure you’d get money (once the law was enacted), but from the tax man. If you had money to be taxed to begin with:-).
I was a communications manager, which meant that I was actually NOT the doer, but the voice and face of the organisations. It was all about managing people’ s expectations, and making sure that they understood what the organisations I represented could or could not do.

Fast forward five years, and I’m now working as a writer/blogger, and over the past year many of the projects I work with are campaigns by non-profits. And I find myself getting asked by my readers and people who I meet me online in the context of the campaign to assist them in ways I’m not equipped to do. I feel a lot of guilt having to decline invitation to speak at events or explain that I’m not comfortable introducing them to some person or I’m not in a position to recommend their project to my clients and even if I did, no one would listen to me because I’m not an expert in that field, and even if they were silly enough to listen, they are not a funding organisation and it’s all moot anyway.

And once again, it comes to managing expectations and regularly clarifying what it is that I do and what I can offer. And it’s really hard to stand my ground and say “I’m just a writer and nothing more,” because I have been so blessed and there are so many people out there who have noble missions who maybe think that I can help them and it seems churlish to refuse to help.

Question: Do you think that people who work in a public sphere ( e.g, writers, actors, musicians, photographers, models, even bloggers) have an obligation to assist their fans/supporters? At what point do you draw the line?


po said...

I really don't think I can comment about obligations in this field since I am not experienced at all. I would say no though, you do what you can. Your job sounded fascinating though, I have never even heard of such a thing.

Tamara said...

Tough one. I do the best to help people with the resources I have and within my ethical boundaries and if I can't because it's not my place to do so, I say so. I think the most guilt I feel is self-induced. Usually people are quite understanding when you explain the situation. Well, in my experience.

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