These days giving back is the new black; totally chic and makes you look thinner (in the wallet anyway).  The good news: there are tons of reputable non-profits to choose from when considering where to give.  The bad news:  there are so many options it’s hard to know what to choose.  And the giving has gotten way more creative these days as well.  It used to be that charities just picked up the phone and interrupted your dinner to guilt you into giving, but now you can buy yogurt that gives back or shop for your favorite perfume or get your hands dirty by taking a trip where you will actually go and do good work.

And if you’re a book lover, you can join with your favorite authors who have gotten creative with the giving as well.  Here are just a few I stumbled on in the last couple of months:

Karin Slaughter – Save the Libraries
Several  months ago, author Karin Slaughter wrote an op-ed piece for the Atlanta Journal Constitution about the importance of libraries in the lives of children – especially those in lower socioeconomic groups.  In researching that article, Karin discovered some pretty startling statistics and a great amount of need.  She realized that without help more libraries would be forced to reduce services or close altogether.  With that in mind, Karin joined with the American Library Association to start and to help spread the word and gain community support for libraries.  There first event is this Saturday and will benefit the Dekalb County Public Library in Georgia.  Next up is an event in June for the Boston Public Library System.

Brad Meltzer –
Author Brad Meltzer loves heroes.  And his favorite heroes are ordinary people.  When he found out that the house where Superman was created (by two ordinary guys) was falling apart, he knew something had to be done.  That’s what got off the ground.  The idea was to raise $50K to save the house through small donations from ordinary people.  He wasn’t sure anyone would care…  They did.  The site ended up raising over $100K and the house has been saved.  The site now directs funds to an organization called City Year which is kind of like a domestic, education focused version of the Peace Corps.  They are currently looking to raise $100K for City Year through $1 donations from ordinary people.

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that Brad isn’t big on getting or taking credit for this non-profit.  He believes in giving back because it’s the right thing to do.  In fact, the donors who only give to get their names on buildings really tick him off.  Hear Brad’s thoughts on the subject by clicking here!

Steve Berry – History Matters
Steve and his wife Elizabeth started History Matters as  a way to get aspiring writers involved in the preservation of history.  Here’s how it works: Any group or organization that has a historical site or artifact of some kind that needs preserving calls or emails Steve and Elizabeth.  They set up an intensive full day writing class in that area that Steve teaches.  They charge for the class and ALL of the money goes straight to the historical item in question.  Steve takes no money for travel or for teaching the class.  Pretty cool, right?  The writer’s get a fabulous class while giving back.  To contact History Matters, go to Steve’s website at (and to hear more about the organization, you can listen to my interview with Steve).

— Dana Barrett, Managing Editor