I can always tell the holiday season is approaching, not only by the displays in every store that appear before Halloween these days, nor by the catalogues that have started to arrive, but by the begging letters from charities. I’m a generous sort of person. I give year-round to some charities. To others I like to give for the holidays. I enjoy sending the Heifer Project money to buy a goat in the name of one of my grandchildren, or paying for the education of a girl with Save the Children. I think it’s good to remind the grandkids how much they have and how a relatively small amount of money can make a difference in the life of a child elsewhere in the world.
However I have now come to dread collecting the mail. It seems generosity now goes with a stab in the back instead of a thank-you. I send to one charity and they promptly sell my info to a dozen others. Case in point. I gave to a small Indian school. We spend our winters in Arizona and I enjoy getting involved in Native American education and arts. But now suddenly every single Indian school, cultural organization etc is sending me begging letters. I send to one religious charity and get letters from twenty more. And they send me things I don’t want. Calendars and dream catchers and note pads and stickers, thus making me feel bad if I don’t send something in return.
John and I have decided this has to stop. I want to feel that I can give to a charity on my schedule and my terms. Amnesty International lost my sponsorship when they kept calling with a crisis and could I spare another thousand/hundred today. We’ve tried sending letters back unopened, but the mailperson says they just destroy them, not return them. We even tried writing to many of the worst offenders saying we would no longer donate to them if they kept sending out unsolicited stuff and begging letters. But most don’t even listen.
This is rude, and worse than that, it is serious. In England this year we read in the news of a ninety year old woman who threw herself off a bridge because she was being deluged with begging letters and no longer had the funds to send them all money. I can understand how that would affect someone living alone and wanting to help. Shame on them.
Then there are the phone calls. We have tried putting ourselves on the do-not-call this but it doesn’t seem to apply to charities. John now keeps a whistle near the phone for the more persistent ones!
. I want to help, I want to give but I don’t want to feel pressured and harassed. How do you feel about a charity selling your name to others? So if anyone has an answer on how to stop this flood of mail, please share it.