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Charitably Uncharitable ?

I don’t mean to be uncharitable…but some charities are really beginning to get my goat. To be polite about it. Which is to say, I’m all for giving but regret that I’m starting to be less forgiving of some who are asking.

A bit about me. I believe in helping out where you can, and getting behind charities and services you believe in deeply. I was raised by parents who taught me about “tithing” and it was a core value for my dad and stepmother. My dad walked the walk, giving to a range of charities and even doing hands-on work to help a local charity – a homeless shelter that also offered some counseling and education to the people who wound up there – for several years after he retired. So, ever since I was old enough to get paycheques, I’d try to give what I could. I still do and in the last couple of years, situations have changed so I could give a little more.

Personally, as regular readers here know, I’m a strong environmental advocate and organizations that try to preserve natural areas, protect wildlife and improve the environment are always front and center in my mind. But so too are the ones which help out people having hard times, often through no fault of their own. It’s a pretty sure bet I won’t walk out of a grocery store that has a Food Drive collection bin without dropping in a few cans of soup or stew, maybe some rice, cereal, peanut butter. Hospitals that help out those who can’t afford regular topnotch treatment win my approval and when I can, my dollars too, as do several medical research charities. I use Wikipedia regularly for research and love that it’s free and runs without ads (which would clutter it and possibly influence the content), so I help them out now and then.

I say that not to toot my own horn; most people I know will do what they can for the causes they believe in too and I never want to forget I’m pretty fortunate in many ways.

All that said, charities are getting a bit out of hand in my house… or mailbox. Obviously at least a good portion of the charitable causes extend their charity to sharing their list of donors with any number of other ones. This is OK… to an extent. It even makes sense in some cases. If I give to an organization that buys up natural areas to preserve, it might make sense that I’d also be interested in one which, perhaps spends money to preserve or improve existing parkland. But lately I find it’s spiraled crazily.

I’ve gotten used to getting regular mailings from organizations remotely similar to the ones I have contributed to – obscure diseases trying to spread the word on their unusual illnesses and combat them, nature clubs from all four corners of the globe, things involving libraries or literacy…you name it. I usually read over their mailing, stash away the address labels they’ve enclosed – because they always send address stickers – and divide into three groups basically. The “wow, that’s good work! I am going to do something for them right now!” pile, the “interesting, maybe at some point I’ll send them $10 or so” one and the “nah, doesn’t interest me, into the recycling bin with you” pile.

Lately though, the mailbox is getting more crammed and the requests more “out there.” I’ve had mailings from both far Left and far Right political orgs. I’ve had requests to give to fight abortion laws and ones from other groups wanting help lobbying judges and politicians to strengthen those same laws. Go figure.

All this is fine and well I suppose. I’m not obliged to help them or even spend time reading their spiel. But the limits on my patience have been sorely tested this past week. Twice, I’ve gone to the mailbox to find stuff literally jammed in there, mail bent, magazines rolled up tight. The culprit – huge, fat unsolicited mailings from charities I’d never even heard of!

I won’t specifically name them because they might both do some good and the problem I fear isn’t limited to them specifically. One was for a private school for less fortunate kids. They sent a reusable vinyl shopping bag, a calendar, a pen and various notepads. That was eclipsed a few days later by an even fatter envelope from some sort of a shelter. It had a calendar, a day book, three pens, a CD of Christmas music, notepads and welll… I don’t know what all else. I haven’t even emptied their envelope yet.

Scrunched in with the mail being squeezed by that package was another envelope from the first group, in an envelope marked “the favor of your reply is requested!” It wondered why they hadn’t heard from me with a generous gift in response to their shopping bag and other knicknacks I hadn’t requested. Now, I believe in education and improving levels of it but have never been a fan of private schools. Send everyone to the same schools, and put the saved money into making them better is my philosophy. Still, their cause did seem like it was well-intentioned, so their mailing sat in my “middle pile.” Sorry to say, after the “where’s our money?” mailing, any thoughts I might have harbored of giving them a small donation flew out the window faster than a canary who’s cage door had been opened for the first time.

Now, a couple of things come to mind about it. Including some small little gift with a request no doubt works well… for awhile. It’s basic psychology. It makes us more likely to feel positive about the giver, and I’m sure they hope, makes us feel a bit guilty if we don’t dole out. I’m OK with that, but I’m sure I’m not the only person with a whole little office drawer full of return address stickers that have pictures of everything from my initials in Gothic script to pictures of bears to children’s cartoons on them. To a point, they’re handy, but when the stack gets to be an inch thick or more, I get to thinking I’d never mail enough things to use them up if I lived to 100 years old and never left my current address.

The charities probably have thought of this themselves and have lately looked to other things they can put in an envelope we might appreciate more. Calendars are in vogue, but becoming a similar problem. For 2023, I believe I’ve kept three of the free ones and have put another half dozen or more into little free libraries in town so someone else could perhaps get some use out of them.

I give kudos to the ones I mentioned this week that came up with a CD or a reusable shopping tote; it’s creative and might be of use. But at some point, I have to wonder shouldn’t they be using more of the money coming in for the causes they promote instead of buying mass merchandise and mailing unsolicited half-pound packages to unsuspecting targets, err “prospective donors”? How many responses do they have to get back with money enclosed to even break even on their costs? And sending a snippy “where’s our gift” sort of letter three short days later seems unlikely to increase the roll call of said donors.

I have to add, I’m not all that wealthy; the sum of my giving is not huge by anyone’s account. I have to wonder what kind of barrage of requests and unwanted gifts the rich who can routinely drop $1000 cheques without a worry face everyday.

So my charitable message to these groups is this : send me a nice little note about what you do and why I might like to help you out. If I do that, then maybe send me a calendar or a notepad and do keep me in the loop with news about what you’re doing. Don’t send me pounds of unsolicited gifts that divert funds from your goals and don’t give my name and address to any old Tom, Dick or Harry organization whose goals are nothing like your own.

Is it just me? Are any of you out there starting to feel just a little uncharitable towards some charities?


12 Replies to “Charitably Uncharitable ?”

  1. I haven’t gotten more snail charity mailings, but the packages are getting bigger. One of the ones you describe is like one I got last week (Boys Town?) What has vastly increased for me have been the email and text begs from organizations. The texting ones are the most aggravating because they always seem to be at the top of my text queue and I have to delete each one individually.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bingo, that was the second (largest) package. I’d never even heard of them. I mostly get the physical mail from these organizations, a few of the ones I give to do e-mail quite often but I don’t get deluges of ones from ‘new’ organizations. I have a separate e-mail just for things I expect will result in spam, including those organizations and most of my online shopping. It’s got something like 5000 items in the inbox and I try to check through it about every week or so and delete large numbers… mainly daily mailings, it seems from retailers I’ve bought from, even once. It’s quite frustrating but that’s why I don’t use my ‘real’ e-mail for those things.


      1. We used to send a lot of juveniles to Boys Town out in Omaha, NE, back in the day. It’s a place for kids who have no/terrible homes/parents and is organized as a home like environment for them in most ways. It’s a pretty posh place to send kids, the best we had available, and they used to have a LOT of sponsors that kept them going. Things have changed over the years. Less kids are going to placement, which, overall, is a good thing, but sometimes home just doesn’t work and any other family-based placement options aren’t appropriate/available. It’s a worthy organization which I think may be down on its sponsorship or getting less kids? As a matter of fact, parents can even send their own kids there if they just can’t care for them (old data that may not still apply.)

        As to spam, I have 2 mail folders in outlook, and all mail goes to the spam unless I designate it otherwise. Also the spam email are deleted automatically every 10 days. It doesn’t mean I don’t have to search through it daily for something I might want to keep. It is a MAJOR HASSLE!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hopefully they are keeping up the good work! Since I wrote that, the pace of mailings to me is increasing, mostly from charities I’ve never heard of! I’ve had several from various Jewish charities … I have no issues with Jews or their faith and flat out don’t understand ‘anti-semitism’. But I’m not Jewish, makes me wonder why they seem to figure I am or would be especially moved to help them out?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. ‘Ye would be very displeased at the marketing harassment. (I’m guessing you’ve heard the latest about Kanye getting dropped by a bunch of sponsors after his ongoing anti-Semetic (sp?) remarks.)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. yep, if I didn’t already think he was, to be about as polite as I can be, something of an idiot, the latest round of statements from him would have made me start to think it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was going to say the same thing as you did…why not spend that money on the cause instead of trinkets?
    I don’t get as much as you but also…I want to make sure it’s legit…sometimes it’s hard to know. When they would start to bug you to no end…yea that is going way too far and they should know better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that’s also a good point, I am wary of requests from ones I’ve not heard of. I think there is some site out there which rates charities and details they’re spending (percentages on the stated goals vs overhead and fundraising costs) but I’m not sure what it is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are a few I like to give to…Saint Judes is one of them and a few other. Sick kids…anything to help and from what I’ve read they do… My first donation of any kind went to Jerry Lewis MD telethon.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. St. Jude’s definitely does good and has a great reputation. The Lewis telephons, yeah, they were a regular part of my childhood Labor Day weekends. My mom used to watch it quite a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

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