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Subject:Charities and mailing lists
Time:10:48 am
Why is it that donating money to a charity inevitably causes you to wind up on their mailing list for the rest of your life? And more importantly, is there any way to avoid it?

If I give money to a charity, I want them to use it for charitable purposes. I swear that there are charities out there that have spent more money sending me solicitations than I have ever given them, and that depresses me. Yes, I know that charities get a lot of money from these solicitations, but not from me-- I always throw them away unopened. And yet I've never found a way to make a donation without winding up on mailing lists.

Why does this suck so much?
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violet_tigress1
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 06:53 pm (UTC)
They figure that if you donated once, you're more likely to donate again... especially if they keep pestering you about it.

Edited at 2010-02-02 06:54 pm (UTC)
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 06:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but in my case it's the opposite-- the more you waste money pestering me, the less likely I am to give you money.

It's the "no easy opt out" part that drives me batshit.
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violet_tigress1
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 07:11 pm (UTC)
I hate it, too. Even if I had $$ to donate, I wouldn't give it to them.
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Mark Rafn [dagon.net]
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 07:26 pm (UTC)
Like so many things (including democratic politics), you're doomed by being outnumbered by the incompetent. Of people who claim not to want any solicitations, there are more that will donate based on a solicitation than will stop donating entire. It would simply be irresponsible for any professional donation curator to make it easy to get off such mailing lists.

You can always donate anonymously, but that's kind of a hassle and it's a bit harder to get a receipt for tax purposes.

I wonder if there is an opportunity for an anonymizing-proxy charity. Chartered to keep minimal tax records and issue receipts on your behalf, do zero marketing and never share any information, and to passthrough large-X% of all donations to the charity you direct them to for each donation.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 08:15 pm (UTC)
I've wondered the same thing.
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markgritter
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 08:29 pm (UTC)
I wonder if there is an opportunity for an anonymizing-proxy charity. Chartered to keep minimal tax records and issue receipts on your behalf, do zero marketing and never share any information, and to passthrough large-X% of all donations to the charity you direct them to for each donation.

Many churches already have a partial implementation of this model. When you give them a check, the envelope may specify something other than the general fund (usually restricted to that month's designated charity or a small subset of charities). The church keeps records, but 100% of the money so specified is passed along, without also giving them your specific name.
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rmd
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 09:23 pm (UTC)
one of my "blue sky" projects would be to start a proxy charity. we funnel through except for some tiny percentage, and only send you reminder mail some user-definable period of time (monthly, annually, etc). Since the proxy would be a registered nonprofit, donors would still get the tax write-off.

bonus points for being able to set up anonymous recurring donations, since many charities prefer that so that they have a consistent level of operating money.

unfortunately, the constant spamming works often enough that there's no incentive for the charities to stop doing that to donors.


Edited at 2010-02-02 09:23 pm (UTC)
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frogpyjamas
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-03 06:48 am (UTC)
If proxy charity held on to the money for 24 to 48 hours to get interest, enough business would pay operating expenses.
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rmd
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-03 01:14 pm (UTC)
true.

in fact, after posting that i remembered that a previous employer had teamed up with the local goodwill to do something like that, except without the anonymous. every year, you filled out a thing showing how much you wanted to donate per year and to whom. the per-pay-period amount got taken out of each paycheck and then the goodwill folks held it and did quarterly sweeps. i forget if they took a minor percentage on top of the interest, though.

a particularly convenient thing was that the matching donation from the company got taken care of automatically.
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jcdill
Subject:proxy anonymous donation sites
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-03 12:46 am (UTC)
http://chancetogive.org/aboutus.do

and in the UK:

http://www.charitychoice.co.uk
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bittercrackbaby
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 07:29 pm (UTC)
I've donated online to all my charities last year. Yes, they send silly amounts of snail mail, but all of them have been good so far at removing me from the mailing list. I let them spam a yahoo address.
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songmonk
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 08:05 pm (UTC)
I am contributing nothing to the discussion, but: I am so with you on this.
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mrraise
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 08:10 pm (UTC)
Patti, I agree with you 100%. I gave a $50 donation to a very well known charity in the New York area two years ago in memory of a friend's mom who was helped by them. Since that time, I get monthly solicitations which I'm sure have eaten up that donation in postage. I checked the letters, and there's no way to remove yourself. Since they aren't smart enough to do that and save money, I just toss their mailings.
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foolishfiddler
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 08:17 pm (UTC)
Get this. During my year of unemployment, I applied to many many many many non-profits who were not courteous enough to let me know they'd even RECEIVED my resume, but were more than happy to put me on their mailing lists soliciting donations. Nope, don't think so.
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jd_trouble
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 10:08 pm (UTC)
Maybe that was their way of acknowledging your resume.

"Hey, unemployed person, we can't hire you, but if you get a job, and you thought enough of us to want to work for us, perhaps you'd give us something."
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tom_bayes
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-02 10:34 pm (UTC)
At risk of completely hijacking the thread, this reminds me of when I was in graduate school. Part of the way through I received my M.S. and thus became an alumnus of the University of Northern Colorado. I continued straight into my doctoral work and was the typical broke grad student subsisting on a fairly meager stipend. Naturally, I received regular mailings from the Alumni Association seeking donations.

Oh, and I agree with Patti. I find this completely annoying and sometimes want to tell them that I remember they exist and I'll donate when I want to. I also find it annoying when you go to a restaurant or store and they ask you to add on $x for donation to Charity Y. Even if it's a good charity, I'll decide when to donate and it's probably not going to be while buying stuff in your store.

Edited at 2010-02-02 10:37 pm (UTC)
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ronsrants
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-03 02:38 am (UTC)
For the last couple of years, I've tossed around the idea that I (and others) would pay a premium to not be placed on a contact list when donating to charity. Alas, no one wants to listen.

-R
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bldrnrpdx
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-03 01:40 am (UTC)
I've gotten to where I mostly donate in person rather than by check. I give money to Planned Parenthood when I see their booth at the state fair, for instance. Cash into the jar. And I've started donating to local charities via the local freebie magazine's annual charity drive. They've recently included a box you can mark to indicate you do not want any snail mail from the charities you give to. This last holiday, I spread some money across a half-dozen organizations. So far, I have only to receive acknowledgements from them for my donation that I can use for tax purposes. I've also opted out of the email updates & solicitations.
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wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-03 02:55 am (UTC)
Ahh, something I can help with. First of all, if you donate online, you get emails forever (usually with an opt-out hidden somewhere), but you don't get mail.

More important, I have affluent friends who have solved this. They send their checks with a note that says, "If we get more than two pieces of paper mail from you next year, we will not donate to you next year." It works with the smart charities, and helps them decide where to donate. Very simple and straightforward.
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wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-03 02:56 am (UTC)
As to why it sucks so much, honestly, I've seen the numbers. They do make more money overall by doing this than the charities that don't do it. So while I don't believe you are "doomed by being outnumbered," I do believe the nonprofits have a genuine motivation for their behavior, which you have to overcome.
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crayonbeam
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-03 04:17 am (UTC)
Having been in the non-profit money-seeking world I will say 99% of this is automated and it is time consuming and difficult for most places to remove you from the lists. Also it works. They would not do it otherwise.

You can try the "I'll give you X, and if you send me more than N mailings per year, I'll give you nothing next year." or "I'll give you X, and if you give me under N mailings per year, I'll double that." You can also donate anonymously via cash.

But the easiest is the Joe Decker method: give more money to fewer orgs rather than less money to more orgs.
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frogpyjamas
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-02-03 06:52 am (UTC)
You should propose to pay the non profit to remove you from their list!
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[icon] Charities and mailing lists - Patti
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