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How To Stop the Charity Junk Mail Monster
Dear Mary: Every day, I receive donation requests from charities. Usually, they enclose "gifts," such as calendars, greeting cards, address labels, notepads, religious tokens and even gloves and blankets. I've tried sending requests for no gifts, but they are ignored. Some charities send mailings on a weekly basis. If I could, I'd donate to them all, but I can't, and I'm getting both frustrated and angry. I'm reluctant to make any donation at all because my name immediately goes onto a list. How can I stop these donation requests and be sure that what money I do have to give goes to reputable charities that will use it wisely without adding me to mailing lists for others? — Joy M., e-mail
Dear Joy: Sadly, with so many people unemployed, there are fewer dollars available to charities. That means charities are competing and scrambling hard to capture as many of the available dollars as possible. Some, as you are learning, are pulling out all the stops.
—Only donate to charities that have written donor privacy policies in place. Look for a link on the charity's home page or donations page, and read the policy carefully, or look for this information on the printed material.
—Get in touch with the charities directly.
—Concentrate your giving. Sending small donations to a variety of organizations is a sure way to get your name on a shared mailing list. Instead, focus your donations on just one or two worthy organizations to reduce your chances of getting inundated with other requests.
—Give anonymously. You can give to any charity through Charity Navigator (http://www.CharityNavigator.org) and request that your donation be sent anonymously to that organization. This will ensure that you avoid any future contact from the organization you're supporting, and it will prevent your information from being shared with third parties.
Stopping all of this unwanted mail will take time. The normal avenues for stopping junk mail are not likely to work in your situation, as nonprofits are not bound to following direct mail rules and regulations. Do not respond to the mail you want to stop. Contact only confirms that your address is good and that you are reading their material. Your silence will get you off the lists. In the meantime, place a wastebasket next to your mailbox, and drop the junk in there as it arrives.
Do you have a question for Mary? E-mail her at email@example.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 18 books, including "Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?" To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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