Today, I received a letter confirming a contribution I made to a charity I have long supported. Attached to this letter of gratitude was a solicitation for an additional contribution. Other charities send me regular snail mail, often in thick envelopes, marked with reminders to the Postal Service to handle the package with care as “free gifts are enclosed.”
Fancy writing on other packages indicates “Your FREE 2009 Wrapping Paper & Gift Tags Are Enclosed.” Others are marked “Urgent” while I received two solicitations from the same charity on one day. In many cases, I receive regular solicitations, often in thick envelopes from organizations I have never supported. One particular think tank in our nation’s capital regularly sends me 8 1/2″ by 11″ envelopes asking for my money. Some send me “gifts” they want to send back to them so they can send them along to soldiers or schoolchildren. It might save some expense if they didn’t first send such things to me.
I wonder how many trees were cut down for the regular 8 1/2″ by 11″ mailings I receive from the National Resources Defense Council (a group I never supported). Oddly enough, organizations I have never joined send me reminders to renew my membership while my apartment is cluttered with gift cards I never ordered, books I have yet to read, CDs I have yet to open and DVDs I have yet to watch, all sent to me, free of charge by groups about which I know little.
In one case, I received regular mailings from an organization I was convinced was a fly-by-night operation, using the stories of children with facial deformities in the third world to enrich scam artists on the East Coast. I later learned that group does very good work; they just have a very bad group of fundraisers. Indeed, I’m sure that many of these groups do very good work; it’s just that those in their Development Office (or those to whom they farm out fundraising) don’t have much respect for their potential donors.
Here’s some advice to them. If you send out 2 pieces of mail to someone who has never given to your group, remove his name from your list. When you send out a note to a contributor, thanking him for his contribution, don’t ask for additional funds.
I had intended to use this post to promote three non-profits I support which don’t regularly send out such solicitations and whose thank-you/confirmation notes are just that, but this post is longer than I had intended already and don’t want to bury the groups worthy of your support, so I’ll save that for my next post.