Lately I’ve been flooded with snail mail from nonprofits begging for money. This is nothing new, but it seems that these organizations have a never-ending supply of paper and just keep asking for more donations. A couple of bigger organizations sent me multiple notices that my membership was up and I needed to send a renewal donation even after I had done so. Are they trying to trick me into doubling up on payments?
Part of this is my own fault. My name is out there as an activist, subscriber to certain newsletters and magazines, and volunteer. No matter how hard anybody tries, your name will get out on lists for people to contact you. I’m pretty sure I’ve never given money to or contacted the North Shore Animal League, but I’ve gotten multiple requests for donations from them. I hadn’t donated to the Hooved Animal Humane Society in over a decade and recently received a newsletter from them. I won’t list everyone.
It always bothered me that these groups would waste paper on request after request. Why use snail mail anyhow when you can save money and resources by using email? When I contacted one group a representative gave me the truthful answer–more people respond to the paper than the electronic stuff. I suppose it is easier to delete an email without reading it than it is to ignore the snail mail without opening it. If somebody bothered to send you something in an envelope, why not peak inside? It gets me every time when I get mail from organizations that I am a member of such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States because I never know if it is a petition for money or a newsletter. More often than not it is a petition.
The worst offense is what has been clogging the mailbox of late. The so-called “free gifts” to get you to donate more money. It’s usually personalized return address labels. I have more address labels than I can use in several years time and I didn’t pay for a single one of them. I can’t donate to all of these organizations and I don’t give money most of the time because I can’t afford it. Going through unemployment, having a low paying job, and worrying about everyday needs in today’s economy leaves average people like myself worrying about our bank accounts and unable to worry about our favorite charities. I feel guilty, but I don’t waste the labels because I don’t like wasting resources. Plus, I might as well put the name of the organization out there as a good deed, right? This kind of gift always bothered me, though. Nonprofit organizations and charities should be using their funding for their causes, not for giving free gifts. I would much rather those few cents or dollars used for those labels and postage be used to help a homeless animal, wildlife, etc than to give me a gift I don’t need.
And guess what? This year I’ve gotten multiple gifts from some organizations. Either their computers have gone wacky, or they are desperate and think wasting money on sending more address labels will do the trick. I’m sorry, but it just gets me more frustrated with this fundraising system than it does make me want to donate. Why would I want to give money if it will just go to making labels and gifts for potential donors?
I’m not just writing a blog post about this to rant about address labels. One of my favorite organizations, the Humane Society of the United States, has been hounding on me for more donations all year-long. I sadly recycle each mailing (got to be green!) and wish I could give more, but I can’t. Then I received a big mailing with “Free Gift” written on the outside. Ugh. What was on the inside? No, not address labels. A manicure set. Yes, you read that correctly. They sent me a set with nail files, nail scissors, clippers, and tweezers. Instead of using that money to better the lives of animals, this well reputed organizations is spending money on manicure sets. Don’t worry, I’m planning a well written complaint e-mail in my head which will go out within the week. I have to make sure it is civil and steam-less, though. There is no sense in sending an e-mail if you can’t use your senses.
But seriously, a manicure set? That is supposed to make me want to give money? Why should I support the gifting of free manicure sets? I want to support the saving of animals and the promotion of better legislation! These are the moments when I wish I could go on public television and rant to the world about how ridiculous America has become. This is assuming other countries have not succumbed to free manicure sets and address labels. Please world, be better than that.