Home Forums Welcome Hello! decluttering charitable giving

This topic contains 25 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of arthelemis arthelemis 2 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #159687
    Profile photo of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    Each year I make a list of ten charities which I wish to support, and send a set amount to each one of them. Each year nearly all of them send me a gazillion dollars worth (much more than my donation) of mail asking me for more money. They also send unsolicited items such as calendars, address stickers, etc. for which I have no use. It ticks me off to no end.

    This year instead of donating on-line I am going to send checks stapled to the following letter. It is my dearest hope that it will put a stop to some of it, if not all of it. I’m also going to follow up on my “threat” of stopping donations to the biggest offenders. It pains me to do it, but what is the point of donating to groups that encourage such waste?

    Dear Charity X:

    Enclosed please find a check for $xx.00. I give to my chosen charities once a year, and occasionally donate additional amounts as gifts to friends and family. Please do not send me written or printed correspondence asking me to donate more. Please do not send me calendars, address stickers, or other items, except for any necessary membership cards or tax receipts. Please use this donation in whatever way you see fit, but do not contact me except by email. Next year when I make up my list of chosen charities I will be removing any who have buried me in unsolicited correspondence. Thank you for your understanding.
    Yours,
    My Name Here
    My Email Here

  • #201859
    Profile photo of Ella
    Ella
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    I donate anonymously. To me, it’s the most selfless way of giving. I send a money order with no ID or return address. Sometimes I enclose a note saying “Donation: use this money however you see fit”… but that note isn’t usually necessary.

  • #201862
    Profile photo of candy
    candy
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    This happened to me at my workplace. I’m the person in charge of donations, we donate money once every year to a charity that is chosen by our employees. I actually had to call the head office of one of the charities and tell them that their representative must stop calling me – she kept calling every 2 weeks or so even though I explicitely told her that a) I did not decide which charity to donate to, and b) that we would get in touch as soon as the decision was made. I’m happy to say that the charity head office listened to me, and I haven’t been bothered since.

    As for myself, I donate anonymously. And this is one of the reasons.

  • #201864
    Profile photo of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    Luxcat – we have done that “stop sending me stuff” and for those that do, we continue to donate. Worked for about 2/3 of the places we used to donate to.

  • #201866
    Profile photo of smallLife
    smallLife
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    I stick to charities I can donate to online or local start ups where I know I’m making an impact. Go Kiva!

  • #201867
    Profile photo of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    I did the same for 3 years before it stuck; I did practice forgiveness on a few local charities that depend on small volunteer office staff (and one sent me a fundraising letter and then a panicked “sorry we didn’t mean to send you that!” email this year.)

    It pretty much meant cutting off the big charities – all the smallish ones respected our wishes.

    Unfortunately, we’ve given bequests and gotten charitable gifts the last few years to the worst offender, the American Cancer Society. Now it’s going to take years to get them off my back again.

  • #201874
    Profile photo of smallLife
    smallLife
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    As an aside, the American Cancer Society recently turned down half a million dollars in funds (250,000 matching) because it came from the Foundation Beyond Belief (a national ‘atheist’ organization). Big charities have a tendency to have concerns above helping those in need. . .

    (from a fairly conservative source, to avoid claims of bias) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brandon-g-withrow/american-cancer-society-atheist_b_1014403.html

  • #201875
    Profile photo of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    gift horse/mouth…..wow!
    if beggars can’t be choosers then the ACS is very obviously not a beggar and is choosing when it pleases.

    i love KIVA, they never hassle anyone.

  • #201885
    Profile photo of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    We have given to ACS in the past as well, along with Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (I did their Team in Training for a half marathon), and the Multiple Myeloma Foundation (DH is a survivor)and they have failed to recognize that we don’t want to be dunned all year long. None of them get our $$ any more. Lately I have been giving to local organizations (Food Bank, local PBS station)and Kiva. None of them harrass me. :)

  • #201908
    Profile photo of AleighJc
    AleighJc
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    They use money to send out that spam, so I would maybe reconsider where you are donating to if they are sending you a lot of letters/papers/junk in the mail. I found this site a year ago and I really like it. It opened my eyes and made me realize I needed to switch who I gave to. http://www.charitynavigator.org

  • #201927
    Profile photo of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    the anonymous money order is a very good idea, I’ll have to think about that for next year.

    charitynavigator.org is a great site, so is http://www.give.org

  • #202077
    Profile photo of Jude2004
    Jude2004
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    The thing about Kiva is that isn’t a charity; it’s an opportunity to lend money to people who would otherwise have trouble getting a loan. Sure, I lend realizing that the loan could go into default (this has happened a couple of times), and in that case, I suppose it becomes a charity. But I could withdraw my funds when they’ve been repaid (instead, my favorite feature is that I can relend it as it’s repaid, so even though I’m poor, I was just able to make my 52nd loan). As for big charities, I would never donate to them. That’s probably why I didn’t care, as an atheist, about the American Cancer Society brouhaha–why in heck donate to a large charity in the first place? I’d rather look at Donors Choose or see if my local school needs funds (all local public schools always need funds). I also donate randomly to fundraising efforts promoted by different bloggers I trust. The Sierra Club has sent me the same dunning letters for years. The letters not only include a lot of paper, but they include non-recyclable plastic items. I would never join an environmental organization which wastes so much paper and plastic.

  • #202081
    Profile photo of mili
    mili
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    the huffpo, a ‘fairly conservative’ source? ummm, you might want to check with a few actual conservatives on that, because last time I checked, the huffpo was definitely on the ‘liberal media’ sh!tlist.

    Aside from the fact that it’s really a shockingly crap source that everyone, no matter where they are on the political spectrum, should studiously avoid for anything more serious than celebrity wardrobe malfunctions.

    Re: charities. Luscat, I think like others have said, you might want to rethink donating to places that spend a lot of money on mailing stuff. Or at least, use that as part of your letter – say something along the lines of, you’re sending me so much crap I’m beginning to wonder how much of the money actually goes to the cause instead of back into fundraising. I also agree that in general, going for smaller, local charities may be a better use of your money in that it may make them more directly accountable if you can stop in any time to see what kind of work is being done. Maybe if you had half a mil to donate, you could give to the big guys and still keep them accountable, but if you have a few dozen per outfit, it is probably not enough for bigger organizations.

    TBH, I think there is too much traffic happening with charities nowadays, and there’s like NO control over them – in fact, establishing some control over whatever the hell it is these people are up to with our money is almost taboo, and a shocking extension of the disgusting mentality that sees those who need said charity as hopeless degenerates who should be happy they get *anything*. It’s also appalling how many people use charity work as a callous CV building exercise – they don’t care about the cancer-stricken children or the homeless or whatever else, they only care about what would look good to potential employers. There is a way to do both, but these people aren’t interested and it is an enormous scandal that we are not only letting them get away with it, but all too frequently encouraging them, at the expense of vulnerable people.

  • #202082

    decluttering charitable giving

    Hate solicitation mail. I won’t donate to anyone I receive unsolicited mail from. There’s a wonderful Meals on Wheels program for housebound seniors. Their single contact with us is a phone call once a year about how much we’d like to donate, and then a follow up thank you. That’s it. That’s reasonable.

  • #202085
    Profile photo of loripax
    loripax
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    We have a small list of charities we regularly support, and they’re generally pretty good about not oversoliciting. I also have a little slush fund for $10 here and there to, say, the neighbor kids’ school raffle or my niece’s softball team fundraising. Seven or eight years ago, I gave $10 to a local feed-the-homeless charity a friend was raising funds for. They immediately started bombarding me with solicitations, several a week, full-color, professionally produced, for a local, supposedly religious-based charity. I finally wrote a letter to the head of the organization, and they slowed a bit — now it’s just twice a month. But they’ve followed me through two moves, and spent many times more than my little $10 donation in trying to get more. They are now on my never, ever, ever, ever, ever donate list, and I share my experience with them when the occasion arises.

    The downside of donating anonymously is that here in the United States you can get a tax deduction for donations to qualified charities and without a receipt, you can’t write it off. Or I suppose you could, but if you’re audited, you might be out of luck. Depending on your tax situation, the write-offs can make a noticeable difference in your tax bill.

  • #202087
    Profile photo of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    I like the slush fund, I should put that in the budget. In reality it comes out of my grocery line item, because most of the off-the-cuff donations are either change out of pocket or cute little cash-register donation jars.

    And yes, there’s a limit (maybe as low as $250?) per charity over which you HAVE to have a receipt for deduction purposes in the US.

    That reminds me: I had always maintained that what we donate in goods isn’t worth enough to bother with, and found out very recently that partner actually does use those ARC/Goodwill receipts when he does his taxes. Oops. I need to start accepting & filing them again.

  • #202090
    Profile photo of nws2002
    nws2002
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    I’ve had lots of success with a similar letter to luxcat’s, although I did say they can email me if they want instead of wasting money on a letter or postcard. It has cut down on the solicitation mail dramatically. Now the most I usually receive is a receipt with an envelope to send more if I choose.

    I like the idea of anonymous money orders, but I prefer checks for the record keeping aspect. I give for more then the tax benefit, but if the IRS ever comes knocking I want excellent records. I think the IRS rules require an actual receipt for anything $75 or more, and even under $75 you are required to keep records. However, I could be confusing the rules for charitable donations with business expenses.

  • #202097
    Profile photo of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    The charities we give to electronically seem to know the limit, and send us an end-of-year thank you letter (“Thank you for your donation of $320, for which you received no valuable item…”) at the end of the year that we can use for tax records.

  • #202110
    Profile photo of Irulan
    Irulan
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    A lot of the major charities subcontract their solicitations through large fundraising agencies. They pay a discounted rate for volume printing. You can usually call the number listed on the charity’s privacy policy or website and they’ll help you opt-out of their solicitations list via the agency. That worked pretty well for us, especially for stopping third-party charities from soliciting.

    ACS (and Habitat for Humanity!) really is an unbearable offender, though. I did a walk about 6 years ago and no matter how many times I unsubscribe, they email and snail-mail me stuff.

    A lot of nonprofits that aren’t charities follow the same annoying MO, too. I got into an argument with someone soliciting for the Met after they kept emailing, mailing, and calling me to join one of their circles. The woman claimed that I must be okay with it because I gave them my phone number. After I told her that including a number was mandatory to buy tickets online, she agreed to stop calling but they still send me crap.

  • #202113
    Profile photo of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    I have been barraged by solicitations this year from environmental and animal-welfare organizations. I am at a point of investing heavily in our own financial health and our future, and thus was not planning to give much regardless; (we don’t itemize deductions so that’s not a consideration) but the excessive mail has definitely turned me away from even the contributions I did intend to make.

    I am going to try luxcat’s letter approach when I get over my irritation and send the checks. :-)

  • #202115
    Profile photo of Ella
    Ella
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    For anyone who’s planning to send letters: Find out the name of the development director at each of the charities, and address your letters to them. You will be much more likely to get immediate results.

  • #202126
    Profile photo of Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    I work for a non-profit, and even I can’t get myself off the mailing list. I agree there is far too much obnoxious solicitation out there, and what I feel are wasted dollars going to useless logo stuff we’re all going to toss anyway.

  • #202129

    decluttering charitable giving

    I can highly recommend Medecin Sans Frontiere and (Oxfam)Community Aid Abroad. Both of them can be switched to electronic soliciting, and both of them send info on what they are actually doing with the money, rather than just begging.

    There are websites that look at the amount of money that charities spend on Admin vs the amount that goes out. I choose my charities based on the ones that spend the least on admin, and the most on what they’re supposed to be doing.

    For Americans – try this one: http://www.charitynavigator.org/

  • #202133
    Profile photo of whit
    whit
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    I really love to give to smaller organizations, both local and not. After Anna died, my aunt gave me a bunch of information about children’s charities we could donate to in her name, and I chose a place in Honduras (Our Little Roses) that houses and educates very poor girls. Small budgets don’t leave room for lots of fundraising, none for lobbying, and aren’t attractive for skimming off the top. This one is explicitly religious which means it’s not secretly religious. I dislike orgs like the Salvation Army, which is very religious and does a lot of lobbying, but you would never know it from their bell-ringing “for the poor”. Plus, I got a personal thank you letter that mentioned my daughter by name – the easiest way to make me donate again! I also like Heifer International, whose recipients pay it forward.

  • #202141
    Profile photo of Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    I have heard LOTS of good things about Heifer International!

  • #202154
    Profile photo of arthelemis
    arthelemis
    Member

    decluttering charitable giving

    We give to local charities only, with the exception of Hema-Quebec (blood donation), to which we give ”in nature”. They do not harass us with letters or anything. We only received a phone call or a small postcard with the date, hours and location of the next local clinic (about 5-6 times per year). They also offer a small ”blood donor” pin, which I refuse, except for the milestone ones (5 donations, 10 donations, 20, etc.)

    My favorite charity is the local animal shelter, which is one of the few around here with a no-kill policy. They have a small staff of paid professionals and everybody else is a volunteer. All the donations are used exclusively for the animals, and they sell some service, such as microchip, boarding and equipment rental to pay for everything else. They are well established in the community and highly regarded.

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