Thursday, August 09, 2007


Mr. Pop and I have a few charities that we feel strongly about. We make generous donations to these charities frequently. One of these charities is bugging me and here’s why.

As I said we make donations on our own schedule. But this one charity seems to be spending all my donation money on things to send me to ask for more money. Last year I received numerous return address labels from them and all the labels had my address wrong even though the envelope they came in had my address right. I also received numerous packs of greeting cards with envelopes from them. I received two umbrellas and two tee shirts as well, plus a calendar. With each of these “gifts” came a request for another donation.

I feel like this particular charity is wasting the money I donate. They are buying basically junk, sending that junk to me and then asking me to make another donation for that junk. This isn’t why I make my donations to them and I refuse to make a donation for “gifts” I did not ask for or want. All the things I listed above went to the thrift shop except of course the return address labels.

I’m starting to question my judgment in supporting this very well known organization.
Any thoughts?


Blogger sumo said...

Either stop that particular charity or send them a letter telling them your concerns about the way they spend money that should be used to better advantage. I personally don't trust charities myself...but I'm jaded. If this administration continues...we'll all be our own best charities.

August 09, 2007 2:17 AM  
Blogger The donut guy said...

We do the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Red Cross.......too much politics involved with many of the charities out there...and we don't need any "free" shit:-)

August 09, 2007 3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I check out Charity Navigator, Guidestar, or BBB Wise Giving before I send a penny to anyone. I'm also very particular about continuing to give - I just told one charity to take us off their list after they called us once a week for months, even after we moved. They'll never get another penny from me, though I do agree with and support their cause.

I've also made a conscious decision to support local charities primarily, as it gives me a better opportunity to see first hand how the money is spent.

August 09, 2007 4:44 AM  
Blogger niCk (Mem Beth) said...

Now that I hardly ever use snail mail, everyone in the world (charities, insurance companies, local politicians) send me tons af address labels I never have a need for anymore.

August 09, 2007 4:46 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

I agree that this gift giving is counterproductive and the charities really need to know this is not helpful. If I give I don't need a mailing label. Just go get something done with the money.

August 09, 2007 4:57 AM  
Anonymous Knox Rover said...

I stopped donating to the Humane Society of the United States (national level) for that very reason. They must have used every cent I gave them to solicit me for more money. I now give to the local Humane Society and other local animal rescue and environmental groups. They usually send me a thank you letter, and that's it.

August 09, 2007 5:04 AM  
Blogger an average patriot said...

I don't knoww wich Charity you are talking about but their is a waeb site listing legitimate Charities and the portion of your dollar that actually gets used for the project you donated for.
Anyway Ijust got a new computer and am trying to figure everything out having switched to Verizon too so I just wanted to make sure you got my response to your comment yesterday.
Thanks Patricia! I missed that but like you i take this as a yes. I will have to check that out. I got a new computer yesterday and I am now on verizon not AOL. So I am still trying to figure things out.
I had my nephew here from Vegas taking care of me but he is gone so I have to do as best I can so bear with me. Eventually I will be beack to cmmenting and writing and hopefully quickly. Bear with me!

August 09, 2007 6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your commenters have made excellent suggestions here. I'd definitely let them know about your concerns and perhaps stop donating for a while and switch to a local charity that you know doesn't spend so much money marketing to a national or international pool of potential donors.

Or set up a special savings account and let the funds accumulate over time. It would gain some interest over time and then can be included as a planned giving piece of your wills.

That might have some tax implications, but an adviser could steer you toward some planned giving solutions that might defer or waive taxes if the money is saved exclusively for donation after you're gone.

August 09, 2007 6:11 AM  
Blogger mommanator said...

I feel pretty much the same as everyone else. I love getting calls from the Police Benevolent that tell me how much to give,and to boot they aren't even near where I live!
I give to my church and also local things I can actually see where the money goes. The food bank is a great thing, the homeless and the needy can at least get some food.
I would prob write them a letter, telling them how I feel. they aren't ever going to get that message until some folks tell them.

August 09, 2007 6:16 AM  
Blogger fallenmonk said...

Yeah PoP, check out Charity Navigator and several other web sites that measure how much of your money actually gets used. I drop a charity like a hot potato when I see them doing this kind of stuff.
I also try and focus on local charities that I can visit and see the results of locally. Homeless shelters, food bank, animal rescue and the such. Think globally, act locally.

August 09, 2007 6:17 AM  
Blogger Sewmouse said...

There is a home and school here for disabled children that has a resale shop. All my "still good but not wanted/needed" things go to them. I know that the money they make from my donated stuff is used to help those kids RIGHT HERE.

There are 2 other organizations that I will support financially, both near the house here. I don't give ANY money to national charities, because I can't keep my own eye on them and their shenanigans, and I'm CERTAIN that there are shenanigans anywhere that I can't keep an eye on.

August 09, 2007 6:39 AM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

I used to donate to the Salvation Army because I could see they were doing a good job and they ranked well on the Administrative costs. No more. They signed on with the Bushies and then they demanded special to be exempt from Equal Opportunity laws when they excluded non-christians from their help. I stopped and I told them why in a letter.

Now, I support the local food bank and I personally know the director so I can see again what is happening. More and more formerly middle class are showing up - job losses primarily.

August 09, 2007 6:43 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

I have the same peeve about those dems I send small contributions to - they seem to spend the whole 20 bucks on postage, asking me for more.

August 09, 2007 6:58 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

Maybe a call or letter would help. I think a check box on the original donation might be a good idea-- one that asks when it would be appropriate to ask for another donation. My mom sends money to all kinds of charities, and her mailbox is full of the same ones coming back asking for more. I think a "once-a-year" check box might help.

When the Dems call me for money, I plan to tell them no, not until they put impeachment on the table.

August 09, 2007 7:19 AM  
Blogger Blueberry said...

Same here, PoP. I feel the same way about those charities that send me junk, esp. the "green" charities, since I now have to put that stuff in the recycling bin! It's a pet peeve.

August 09, 2007 7:37 AM  
Anonymous fairlane said...

I don't donate to charities anymore. Too much of the money goes to "Administrative and Marketing costs."

I prefer to give money straight to the homeless so they can choose the kind of wine and/or beer they prefer.

Sometimes I just buy them the alcohol right out to eliminate the middle man.

Giving in this manner allows one to see their money at work. One time a guy came up to my car at a gas station asking for money. I gave him a couple of bucks, and he then went over to a car behind me and bought some crack.

It was heart warming to see that I had such a direct impact on someone's life.

Of course, if I knew he wanted crack, he could have just bought it from me, again eliminating the middle man.

August 09, 2007 10:10 AM  
Blogger DivaJood said...

The comments are right on target. I am quite selective about where I donate; and when a well-known charity starts sending me monthly letters after ONE donation, I hae to wonder.

One thing about fund-raising is that it eventually gets buried in paperwork.

August 09, 2007 10:16 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

i'll bet i know just which one it is, given the umbrellas in the mail. we've written letters to no avail. so, now i just take the umbrellas and canvas tote bags etc and donate them to goodwill.

the address labels, well, the ones that i have that came correctly printed should hold me until i'm 99 if i make it.

August 09, 2007 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

Mercy Corps allowed me to select the option of not receiving expensive snail mail from them in order to divert that money to their real work. I get e-mail newsletters to tell me about their latest activities and needs, and only one piece of snail mail -- the tax confirmation of donations at the end of the year. I wish more charities would figure this out.

August 09, 2007 10:52 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

Charities should only need 8-10% for administrative costs, and the rest should go to the work it is set up for.

August 09, 2007 11:13 AM  
Blogger Samantha said...

NO I agree with you, on a similar note my 85 year old Nana was supporting one of those adopt a child from another country things and she was doing without, she is on a fixed income, to do her part to help a child only to get a letter from the child saying she didn't know why she had to write a letter, she was fine and wanted to go ride her bike!

I wish that when you donated it was more up front to where the money was being spent and have the option to not get the 'gifts' in the mail.

August 09, 2007 11:16 AM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

I thought I was the only one feeling this way about Charity donations. Now I don't feel so bad about myself to know that I'm not the only one with these type feelings.

August 09, 2007 2:06 PM  
Blogger FunkyTown Fighter said...

My mom used to give charity to a law enforcement agency, but when miraculously alot of other "charitys" started getting her number and calling to ask for a hand out she quickly stopped. I'm all about giving, but when you start to feel you're being used it's because you usually are! If your still unsure ask FRED the cat he's smart! LOL..........

August 09, 2007 2:20 PM  
Blogger Distributorcap said...

i cannot stand all the crap i get to encourage me to donate -- calendars, pens, labels, umbrellas, stuffed animals...

i give to a whole bunch of animal charities and enclose a letter asking them to not send stuff. it usually works -- especially the small ones. (like horse rescue, pig rescue etc.) -- i dont mind newsletters.

if i get a call from a charity (the PBA calls all the time in NY) -- i just hang up. i know it's rude -- but i dont care.

August 09, 2007 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

make your donations to the charities you choose to support anonymously thereby providing you the satisfaction of giving to a cause you consider worthwhile as well as preventing them from hitting you up every time they have a funding drive. if you don't want to send cash get an anonymous money order and specify that all of it go to the actual cause rather than funding junk & solicitations. you could even photocopy the M.O. and contribution letter to use as a federal tax record (unless, of course you no longer contribute to THAT cause)

August 09, 2007 4:20 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Everyone seems to feel about the same. I give to local places and groups that I know need it-cause I can verify where it goes.Here, our school and fire department give to the needy in the community all year. And being a small town helps know if the individuals really are needy.

August 09, 2007 4:31 PM  
Blogger windspike said...

Donating cash that you cannot stipulate a purpose is like giving a homeless person a dollar instead of a hot dog. You never know where that dollar is going.

I try to find charities where I know what the cash will be used for, rather than give unrestricted dollars. Hey, I may only give you 20 bucks, but I want to ensure it does some good and not go into the junkies arm.

August 09, 2007 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Bryan said...

My Mother was a bookkeeper her entire working life, so when she suspected they were wasting her money on requests, she started a ledger. She recorded every request for six months, and it was absurd. Several groups she once supported spent the equivalent of her entire donation on mailings.

You were right, PoP. They are using a professional fundraiser and these groups charge on a unit basis. This is another form of outsourcing, and not a good thing.

Stay local unless there's a major disaster where you can specify where your money goes. That's when I send money to the Salvation Army and earmark it. I don't support the SA at any other time, because I don't approve of a number of their policies, but they are the most efficient group for providing food after a disaster.

August 09, 2007 5:22 PM  
Anonymous sister faith said...

Good post, good discussion.

I too do not want all the "free" cards, labels, calendars, etc. and the amount of this stuff sent out has curbed my contributions.

Several years ago after reading a financial statement of "Boys Town"....millions and millions in trust....I decided to send my few coins elsewhere....(There is a local women's shelter that I contribute to. I know they don't have millions in trust!)

Others have mentioned the charity sites on the web where you can get the numbers...percentages... of how charities spend their money....these are really helpful.

In the "olden days" (my era) one could specify where one wished one's United Way donation to go. Then they changed all that. Also, I quit donating to the UW because of the aggressive way they encouraged their "corporate" partners to lean on employees. I haven't contributed to United Way in years. And never will again.

August 10, 2007 8:12 AM  
Blogger Mauigirl said...

I too dislike charities that send so many gifts that they then expect you to donate money for. I think it's a scam that guilts gullible people, particularly the elderly, into feeling obligated to send the money. My aunt is one of them; if she gets something in the mail she feels she must send them money. I keep telling her that one donation a year is plenty but she feels guilty anyway.

August 10, 2007 9:04 PM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

That is why I quit the Sierra Club, over a decade ago.

Your charity has organizational sickness. The organization is like a virus that is killing the host, which is the charity itself.

Jump ship as fast as you can. Your money is being wasted on umbrellas and junk mail.

August 11, 2007 3:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have looooooong felt that the Human Rights Campaign (an ostensibly gay rights organization) spends most of its time raising money for its next black tie fundraising dinner............

- oddjob

August 12, 2007 9:49 PM  
Blogger Chance said...

PETA is a very bad offender in this regard, which is why I stopped giving to them. (Also, their insulting ad campaigns.) Switch to another charity.

August 12, 2007 10:58 PM  

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