Unsolicited "gifts" from charities

MooMoo Kerygmania Host
I should be resigned to this by now, but it still irritates me. I keep getting mailings from charities with an enclosure of some cheap thing I do not need. They suggest how much money I should send them. Attempted extortion is too strong a term, but it approaches that.
I never respond to them. I give to charities whose work I am familiar with and know that they deserve support. I have all the calendars and notepads I need. What am I supposed to do with this stuff?
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Comments

  • Give it to a charity shop? I know I have seen such stuff there.
    I keep the pens and use the notelets, and never give to any charity that wastes money in this way.
  • A certain charity (actually, it was technically a business anyway) always used to send us a packet of admittedly pretty Christmas cards. To my annoyance, my wife felt under an obligation to send them money. So of course they kept on sending them ...
  • In Canada we can put "mail refused" and pop into the nearest Canada Post box.
  • Cathscats wrote: »
    Give it to a charity shop?

    Most of the ones I used to get were return address labels. I doubt that charity shops wanted labels with my name and address. :wink:

    I just started sending them back their reply forms, asking politely to be taken off their lists. I've done the same thing with mail order catalogues. Both have been successful. I'm sure I've saved several acres of trees.


  • I subscribe to some UK Christian charities, and they do send me (at this time of year) a few free greetings cards, a calendar, and/or the occasional pen...

    I find a use for all these items, though perhaps it would be better for my £££ to be entirely spent on The Cause(s). However, I suspect that, in a very competitive field, the charities concerned do need to lay out a fair amount of cash on publicity, paying their staff, and so on...

    Re 'mail refused', I think the practice in Ukland is to scrawl 'RTS' (Return To Sender) in massive letters on the unwanted envelope, duly posting it in a Proper Post-Office Red Pillar Box.
    :wink:
  • I keep and use the address labels, as well as the note pads by the phone, and I trash the rest. I find over time with no response they stop sending stuff. Unfortunately there always seems to be another to take their place. Oh well one can never have too many address labels. I have a list of charities that I know and trust are using my donations wisely. Do not get me started on the ones who phone.
  • Since fewer people send real letters anymore (as opposed to email), and many pay bills on-line, just how many people can use the 100s of address labels that arrive, especially this time of year?

    Added to my opt-outs of charity solicitations and catalogues (above), I also need to add political candidates and causes. I've made a few donations this year -- cue the avalanche of appeals! I send each one back with a note that I will donate when and if I am able, but that I do NOT respond to solicitations. It's slowed down (except for the emails, which are easy to delete if I don't want to respond), but I fear that in the next 11 months they'll pick up again. (Telephone solicitors do not get their calls answered, and their numbers are blocked immediately.)
  • We use the labels and don't send the money. (Of course there are other charities we do give to, which is presumably how we got on their mailing list.) They said it was a gift, and gifts come without strings.
  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    We used to get artwork from a group calling itself Foot and Mouth artists. Possibly something similar. Done by artists who held paintbrush in their toes or mouth. I think they relied on feelings of guilt aroused to raise money. Haven’t seen anything about them in many years. I rarely send card to anyone at all, so they were not of use to me.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    I am not sure I have ever had return address labels, but yes, cards, pens etc.

    I use the things if I can, have a pang of guilt but move on.

    It does feel like extortion. Especially as they must know they will get 90% rejection and (presumably) still make money.
  • The other thing I hate is when you're using the little transaction machine at the grocery store and they want you to press the button to donate $1, $2, $5, or $10 for charity. Or the cashier asking if you want to "round up" and donate the extra to charity. I always say "No" just out of principle. It's extortion, or guilt-tripping, or whatever you want to call it.
  • In principle, this sort of thing should have more or less stopped in the UK and the rest of the EU, as GDPR more or less outlaws the selling on of mailing lists. So if anyone is still getting stuff, either you have already got a relationship with the charity, or the charity is run by cowboys who don't care about potential run-ins with the Information Commissioner.
  • That would be the Red Cross, then!
    (Though they have been sending me things and getting no return for years before GDPR.)
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    This doesn’t apply to address labels, obviously, but other charity promotional material is often not personally addressed. (Red Cross: cards/notelets, coasters, notebooks)
  • Fawkes CatFawkes Cat Shipmate
    edited November 16
    BroJames wrote: »
    This doesn’t apply to address labels, obviously, but other charity promotional material is often not personally addressed. (Red Cross: cards/notelets, coasters, notebooks)

    Wouldn't this knock out a lot of the effectiveness of the technique? I might respond to a begging letter starting 'Dear Mr Cat', but wouldn't find 'Dear Householder' anything like so engaging. And if it just falls through the letterbox with the takeaway menus, discount offers from Farm Foods and so on, it will just go in the recycling along with the rest of that sort of thing.
  • Lothlorien wrote: »
    We used to get artwork from a group calling itself Foot and Mouth artists. Possibly something similar. Done by artists who held paintbrush in their toes or mouth. I think they relied on feelings of guilt aroused to raise money. Haven’t seen anything about them in many years. I rarely send card to anyone at all, so they were not of use to me.

    Yes, I received some stuff from them (here in the UK) many lustra ago. Perhaps they're defunct, as a charity, anyway.
    mousethief wrote: »
    The other thing I hate is when you're using the little transaction machine at the grocery store and they want you to press the button to donate $1, $2, $5, or $10 for charity. Or the cashier asking if you want to "round up" and donate the extra to charity. I always say "No" just out of principle. It's extortion, or guilt-tripping, or whatever you want to call it.

    Some eB*y sellers invite donations (via P*yP*l), and I have occasionally obliged, if I've agreed with whatever cause it is they're supporting. But that, of course, is done impersonally online, so no feelings of guilt-in-public, IYSWIM!

  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    edited November 16
    The artists are still going, but I haven't had anything from them for years. I did used to send as one of their members was in a hospital in our town. Young people would go as helpers, putting the paints in the right places for her and so on. She had been a dancer, and specialised in ballet pictures, which had a wonderful sense of movement. She was very exacting about how people did things.
    I've had a lot of envelopes lately, but nothing with gifts in. Fortunately. And most of them do not have windows in, so its easy to put them in recycling.
  • For some reason we don't get many now, but if people send reply-paid envelopes, I stuff them with any old paper that's lying around - supermarket flyers, etc - and send them off. Most of them were coded, so they could identify the sender, and ensured we got taken off the list, as the return was costing them money.
  • When I was a child my mother would tuck all appeals aside in a large shopping bag kept beside her sewing machine. Periodically she would get a stack of one-dollar bills, open the appeal letters and tuck one bill into each appeal envelope. Which, of course, only generated more appeals coming to her attention. Being a good Catholic she could not bring herself to throw any of the appeal material into the trash since they contained pictures of Mary, or a church, etc. and she did not want anyone to use those images for mockery or less-then-uplifting purposes. So one dollar went into each return envelope and reams of paper with holy images sat in that bag until autumn when as a family we’d go on our annual “Holy Smoke Picnic” -- a trek to a public park that offered stone barbecue pits. We’d enjoy cold sandwiches while we got a roaring fire going so we could slowly feed all those holy cards, gift cards, and the like into the flames, feeling righteous and smelling ghastly. Must say, I rather miss it now!
  • Penny S wrote: »
    The artists are still going, but I haven't had anything from them for years. I did used to send as one of their members was in a hospital in our town. Young people would go as helpers, putting the paints in the right places for her and so on. She had been a dancer, and specialised in ballet pictures, which had a wonderful sense of movement. She was very exacting about how people did things.
    I've had a lot of envelopes lately, but nothing with gifts in. Fortunately. And most of them do not have windows in, so its easy to put them in recycling.

    Glad to hear (IYSWIM) that they're still going. A worthy cause, albeit just one amidst a clamouring multitude...

    ...which will grow ever bigger, and more clamourous, as the world darkens, and the fascisti oppress the poor even more...

  • mousethief wrote: »
    The other thing I hate is when you're using the little transaction machine at the grocery store and they want you to press the button to donate $1, $2, $5, or $10 for charity. Or the cashier asking if you want to "round up" and donate the extra to charity. I always say "No" just out of principle. It's extortion, or guilt-tripping, or whatever you want to call it.

    I live in a small rural town and our local grocery store does just that, but it is for our local schools, science camp, sober grad night and such. As these kids are our home town children it gives the idea a whole different take, so I am happy to round up when I can. It always sometimes happens if a local family needs help because their home burned or some such tragedy.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    I've become quite cynical about charities in general. Why do we have all these disease-related foundations dunning us for contributions while we also fund governments (and government grants) and health care and universities with research departments with our tax dollars?

    Why am I, as taxpayer, supporting both my local school district's fight AGAINST some student's struggle to secure a free appropriate public education while also morally committed to contributing to the family's considerable legal costs in their efforts to gain what should be theirs by right? I do not want to pay to support both sides when I strongly disagree with one of them!


  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, Hell Host
    For some reason we don't get many now, but if people send reply-paid envelopes, I stuff them with any old paper that's lying around - supermarket flyers, etc - and send them off. Most of them were coded, so they could identify the sender, and ensured we got taken off the list, as the return was costing them money.
    Years ago, I somehow got on the mailing list of some egregious televangelist - it might have been Jerry Falwell - and for a while used their reply-paid envelopes to carry requests to be removed from their list. It was to no avail; the mailings, often stuffed with junk, kept coming on a frequent basis. I finally took a box, placed three bricks inside, and taped the envelope to the outside, with a note within pointing out that my several requests to be removed from the list had been ignored, and sent it off.

    I got one final piece of mail from them. It was an apology.

    (I've noticed in recent years that said envelopes tend to be severely limited in the amount of weight they'll cover,)

  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited November 17
    So. Awesome.

    My stepfather, a mailman, was in the habit of balling up the day's junkmail and shoving it into such envelopes, which he then sealed and mailed back. Once he received a free camera in reply.
  • I usually check out what seems to be junk mail, 'cause it isn't always obvious from the outside--and it might be something else. If there's a gift (labels, note pad, etc.), I keep it. (If you don't do snail mail, you can still use the labels to put your contact info in/on books, storage items, and packages.)
  • Five minutes ago I opened a handwritten letter to me with no return address that said, "We miss you!" It was from NAMI National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (yes I'll name names,) to whom I last sent money about ten years ago, after which I switched to Brain and Behavior Research which has never once sent me any sort of mail and spends more money on actually looking for a cure and less on "awareness." NAMI's letter ended by saying, "Your contribution of $500 will go along way to help." Bwahhaha

    I currently have four 2020 calendars and all the note pads and Christmas cards I'll ever need and I never fill compelled to send those charities money.

    My son gets stacks of mail from charities every single day due to his soft heart for animals and brown eyed children, I enjoy handing it over and telling him the chickens want more money. Or the potbellied pigs. Many charities remind him that he can include them in his will.

    I tell all the phone callers that I do not give to charities that solicit over the phone. I consider myself very brave for saying that to the guy who sounds like Broderick Crawford and asks for money for our brave police force.

    OTOH I'll never be brave enough to suggest that my church have an annual drive for some disease other than the same one they push every year.
  • Isn't it interesting how phraseology is so designed to make us feel really bad if we don't give to "our brave police force" - or similar.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    Years ago, for a period of about a month, I got several phone calls every day asking for money for 'my local police force'. I repeatedly said that I did not give to charities that do not give me much information. Just after the calls ceased, it occurred to me that I should have asked them whether they knew the name of my local police force.
  • Several weeks ago a woman in our church study group brought in a stack of about 20 calendars that she had already received, urging us to take any we might be able to use. Last week I noticed that someone else had left a stack on a table at our coffee hour. (All of these are 2020 calendars, not left-overs from 2019.)
  • Isn't it interesting how phraseology is so designed to make us feel really bad if we don't give to "our brave police force" - or similar.

    How about replying, "I'll show my support by voting for the party which will fund our police/ambulance/whatever properly"?
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    But that's Communism
  • Isn't it interesting how phraseology is so designed to make us feel really bad if we don't give to "our brave police force" - or similar.

    My wife and I refer to all such post as "emotional blackmail" and put it in the recycling.
  • Emotional blackmail describes it exactly.
    jay_emm wrote: »
    But that's Communism

    The older I get, the more I am inclined to think that Communism is not, in itself, a Bad Idea.

  • I don’t like unsolicited items or even letters of appeal.
    But I don’t condemn charities that don’t receive enough to fulfill their mission otherwise for doing either.
    They spend pence in order to receive pounds. Charities have to spend money to get money, there is no way around this. And they have to appeal to emotion, because it works where other things don’t.
    I no longer get angry at legitimate charities creating small annoyances to try to get whatever they can to fill their need, I save that for the fact that the need exists.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Shipmate
    edited November 17
    mousethief wrote: »
    The other thing I hate is when you're using the little transaction machine at the grocery store and they want you to press the button to donate $1, $2, $5, or $10 for charity. Or the cashier asking if you want to "round up" and donate the extra to charity. I always say "No" just out of principle. It's extortion, or guilt-tripping, or whatever you want to call it.

    Many years ago I decided that I would never give out of guilt and never give anything that actually cost me nothing.

    Which I do find quite challenging as I step over beggars and around people who seem to be trying to look pathetic for change.

    I suppose it is a sign of the times that almost everyone now engages in similar kinds of marketing, even beggars in the street.

    But there is a deeper malaise, I think, in my society which this taps into. I'm not sure if I can define or articulate it precisely, but somehow people are motivated by the the idea of "doing something" when faced with the knowledge of a certain issue.

    It is almost as if we are so switched on to the messages we receive from the environment around us that we automatically feel the need to respond, even if the response makes little or no difference to that issue, because somehow it is better to do something than nothing.

    --

    One of the biggest charities in the UK is a donkey sanctuary.

    I've nothing against donkeys, but how have we got to the situation where the plight of bedraggled donkeys affects more donors than almost anything else?
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    I don’t like unsolicited items or even letters of appeal.
    But I don’t condemn charities that don’t receive enough to fulfill their mission otherwise for doing either.
    They spend pence in order to receive pounds. Charities have to spend money to get money, there is no way around this. And they have to appeal to emotion, because it works where other things don’t.
    I no longer get angry at legitimate charities creating small annoyances to try to get whatever they can to fill their need, I save that for the fact that the need exists.

    I don't think there is much point in getting angry, but I think there is at some point value is stepping back and wondering whether the complex structures that the marketing departments of charities use are actually worth it.

    I used to work in charity retail. I've had a lot of conversations about the mechanics of how the economics of it works - but the hard reality of almost all charities is that most charity shops make little money. Some even lose money.

    Many charities would make the same (or perhaps more) money by collecting and selling goods on the wholesale market (for "pence in the pound") than they do via their networks of shops, once all the costs are considered.

    It is a fairly well-known reality that some charity shop chains are actually more in the business of encouraging donations (particularly in wills etc) from the mostly elderly volunteers who work there than anything they actually sell.

    One well-known national charity makes a marginal amount of money from the shops and openly states that their main purpose is "brand recognition".

    It is hard not to get cynical in the charity retail sector, and to avoid coming to the conclusion that there are easier and more efficient ways to make money.
  • Well litbuddha is right that they're all only trying their best for their cause and I don't get angry, but since I can't give to them all and have only a limited amount to give, I try to consider lots of things and give both where my heart is and where there seems to be the most need.

    Charity Navigator helps us make good decisions as well as charts showing things like "number of people with disease X," next to how much is collected for that cause. Every disease is awful if you've got it but if a certain disease is suddenly getting lots of money from big celebrity concerts while others are ignored year after year in spite of it effecting a huge part of the population -- that's something to think about.

    Still. If donkeys or chickens happen to push your buttons might as well go with that. I think it's good for us to give no matter who or what's on the other end.
  • Fawkes Cat wrote: »
    In principle, this sort of thing should have more or less stopped in the UK and the rest of the EU, as GDPR more or less outlaws the selling on of mailing lists. So if anyone is still getting stuff, either you have already got a relationship with the charity, or the charity is run by cowboys who don't care about potential run-ins with the Information Commissioner.
    Cathscats wrote: »
    That would be the Red Cross, then!
    (Though they have been sending me things and getting no return for years before GDPR.)

    I was just thinking "that must be Open Doors, then". No actual unsolicited "gifts", but begging email, beginning "Dear Eutychus", to an address I'm sure I didn't have registered with them. For all the paranoia they exhibit about protecting persecuted Christians, they don't seem to have any scruples when it comes to spamming potential donors :rage:
  • Blahblah wrote: »
    [One of the biggest charities in the UK is a donkey sanctuary.

    I've nothing against donkeys, but how have we got to the situation where the plight of bedraggled donkeys affects more donors than almost anything else?
    Yes, I think this is a real issue and explains some of the "emotional blackmail" approach. There are some areas of charity which tick people's giving boxes and others - equally worthy - which don't. I noticed this when I was involved in missionary work: someone who was a "pioneer" working among "indigenous people" in jungle villages pulled in support in a way that someone working among poor people in a high-rise European urban development didn't.

  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    The other thing I hate is when you're using the little transaction machine at the grocery store and they want you to press the button to donate $1, $2, $5, or $10 for charity. Or the cashier asking if you want to "round up" and donate the extra to charity. I always say "No" just out of principle. It's extortion, or guilt-tripping, or whatever you want to call it.
    On the one hand, it's hard for a charity to raise money if they never ask anyone for it.

    But on the other hand, asking you for it in front of the cashier and other people standing in line... It's like a public proposal. "This is all so sudden! I don't know what to say! Can we ... go somewhere to talk about this privately?"
  • It's a form of advertising. Of course you're supposed to have an emotional response which increases the possibility of you feeling obligated. It's a form of manipulation.

    I'm totally against the cash register "donate to the store's charity". This is attempted purchase of public licence.

    I'd say the key is to learn to be asocial in a social situation. They are trying to get you to feel something, but your feelings are your's and I view it as wrong of them to try to manipulate my feelings. I have given no permission for them to do this. I'm justifiably upset with them for doing so. And non-responsive to their attempts to pull feelings from me.
  • Financial giving is a way of outsourcing incarnational Christianity and is thus a perversion of it. Instead of being incarnational, we pay somebody else to be so. This is dehumanising and destroys the link between giver and beneficiary.

    Giving based on guilt leverages legalism. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (New Living Translation).

    I often wonder what the landscape of Christian missions and charities would look like if it were somehow possible to cease legalistic guilt-motivated giving and replace it with grace-motivated giving.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    Eutychus wrote: »
    I often wonder what the landscape of Christian missions and charities would look like if it were somehow possible to cease legalistic guilt-motivated giving and replace it with grace-motivated giving.

    Most of them would go instantly bankrupt. Be careful what you wish for.
  • Oh, I wish on. Dead works.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Financial giving is a way of outsourcing incarnational Christianity and is thus a perversion of it. Instead of being incarnational, we pay somebody else to be so. This is dehumanising and destroys the link between giver and beneficiary.

    Giving based on guilt leverages legalism. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (New Living Translation).

    I often wonder what the landscape of Christian missions and charities would look like if it were somehow possible to cease legalistic guilt-motivated giving and replace it with grace-motivated giving.
    If grace-motivated giving were enough, there would be no need for anything else. The fact that it isn't enough likely means it will never be.
    Those in need love a giver, regardless of motivation.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Financial giving is a way of outsourcing incarnational Christianity and is thus a perversion of it. Instead of being incarnational, we pay somebody else to be so. This is dehumanising and destroys the link between giver and beneficiary.

    Giving based on guilt leverages legalism. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (New Living Translation).

    I often wonder what the landscape of Christian missions and charities would look like if it were somehow possible to cease legalistic guilt-motivated giving and replace it with grace-motivated giving.
    If grace-motivated giving were enough, there would be no need for anything else. The fact that it isn't enough likely means it will never be.
    Those in need love a giver, regardless of motivation.

    Sanctimonious bollocks. People in need are perfectly capable of being ungrateful, or of feeling patronised or insulted by a giver. People in need have been known to refuse gifts where the giver is seeking to use it to polish the turd that is their own reputation.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Financial giving is a way of outsourcing incarnational Christianity and is thus a perversion of it. Instead of being incarnational, we pay somebody else to be so. This is dehumanising and destroys the link between giver and beneficiary.

    Giving based on guilt leverages legalism. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (New Living Translation).

    I often wonder what the landscape of Christian missions and charities would look like if it were somehow possible to cease legalistic guilt-motivated giving and replace it with grace-motivated giving.
    If grace-motivated giving were enough, there would be no need for anything else. The fact that it isn't enough likely means it will never be.
    Those in need love a giver, regardless of motivation.

    I think there is plenty of evidence of charitable organisations who have lost sight of the actual aims that they were set up for and are engaged in activities which amount to little more than keeping themselves going and their people employed.

    Unfortunately all kinds of imaginative propaganda often obscures the truth, and inbuilt inertia within those charities (and sometimes within the society at large) means that difficult discussions about the ethics are never properly aired on public.
  • On phone calls I always ask, how much of your income goes to the work of your charity and how much is overhead. This often gets them to quickly hang up, and not call back.
  • Blahblah wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    I don’t like unsolicited items or even letters of appeal.
    But I don’t condemn charities that don’t receive enough to fulfill their mission otherwise for doing either.
    They spend pence in order to receive pounds. Charities have to spend money to get money, there is no way around this. And they have to appeal to emotion, because it works where other things don’t.
    I no longer get angry at legitimate charities creating small annoyances to try to get whatever they can to fill their need, I save that for the fact that the need exists.

    I don't think there is much point in getting angry, but I think there is at some point value is stepping back and wondering whether the complex structures that the marketing departments of charities use are actually worth it.
    I've worked fund-raising with various agencies and groups and I think there are inefficiencies in most. Outside of some outrageous salaries, much of the inefficiency is somewhat inevitable.
    Blahblah wrote: »
    I used to work in charity retail. I've had a lot of conversations about the mechanics of how the economics of it works - but the hard reality of almost all charities is that most charity shops make little money. Some even lose money.

    Many charities would make the same (or perhaps more) money by collecting and selling goods on the wholesale market (for "pence in the pound") than they do via their networks of shops, once all the costs are considered.
    As I understand it, a charity shop must sell mainly donated goods to maintain its charitable purpose status.
    Blahblah wrote: »
    One well-known national charity makes a marginal amount of money from the shops and openly states that their main purpose is "brand recognition".

    It is hard not to get cynical in the charity retail sector, and to avoid coming to the conclusion that there are easier and more efficient ways to make money.
    Brand is huge. Branding works. And, yes, cynicism is a problem.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Financial giving is a way of outsourcing incarnational Christianity and is thus a perversion of it. Instead of being incarnational, we pay somebody else to be so. This is dehumanising and destroys the link between giver and beneficiary.

    Boy this goes against 2000 years of Christian teachings. So instead of giving money, you would have people with families, and who work 50 hours a week, do what? volunteer at a food bank? What about a single mom, she just doesn't get to be charitable at all? Absurd.

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