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No good deed goes unpunished....
Old 03-31-2015, 03:34 PM   #1
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No good deed goes unpunished....

I'm hoping that someone on this board has found a good solution to one of my pet peeves.

As background, for the last 30 or so years, I have made numerous charitable contributions, usually by writing out a slew of checks in December (more recently I have the BillPay utility from my bank make the payments).

I subsequently get all sorts of mailings from the groups I contribute to, and others, sending me calendars, notepads, return address labels, blank cards and envelopes, certificates, membership cards, etc. All stuff I don't really want and need cluttering my life and since my surname has two capital letters and DW's surname is hyphenated, inevitably in most cases anything "personalized" like return address labels is wrong and just gets recycled. At most, we keep some of the cards and notepads.

At one point I gave relatively small amounts ($25-$50) to a large number of charities. A few years ago, I scaled back the number of charities and culled out those who had higher administrative costs and gave larger amounts ($50-$100) so the total was close to the same.

I recall one year back when I was writing and mailing checks to charities getting so frustrated that I included a note specifically asking them not to send me anything other than a thank you for my contribution for that year and a reminder the following December.... but I still got the same old crap.

Has anyone out there found an effective way to contribute and avoid getting all the crap and further solicitations? I can't recall EVER sending them more money in response to another solicitation and would have figured that after 30 years they would understand it is a wasted effort, but no such luck. While the crap that they send me isn't all that valuable, between the cost of the materials, printing and postage I suspect that a good portion of my contribution gets sucked up trying to get more money out of me rather than going to the uses I intend my contribution to be used for. Frustrating
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Old 03-31-2015, 03:47 PM   #2
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This is a big reason why people use donor advised trusts/funds. You can start one for as little as $5k at fido, schwab and other places.
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Old 03-31-2015, 03:51 PM   #3
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I haven't found a way to eliminate it, but I have found some charities that send far less mail (and no "stuff") and I tend to favor them. Also, in my experience, smaller local charities tend to be less likely to use commercial fundraisers than big national organizations - but that is just my impression.
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Old 03-31-2015, 03:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Has anyone out there found an effective way to contribute and avoid getting all the crap and further solicitations?
Unfortunately, No. This is one of my pet peeves as well. I feel like my "reward" for contributing is to receive all kinds of junk mail asking for more money.
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Old 03-31-2015, 03:58 PM   #5
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Use account starter checks, the ones without your name or address. Another way is to get a money order at a bank or post office and mail your contribution in that form.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:02 PM   #6
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I love my Fidelity DAF. Gifts as small as $50 and a very user-friendly website for making them. Nearly all mine are made as "Anonymous" to eliminate the followup mailings, and it has been working very well.

Beyond that, some charities (I know the DAV is one of them) maintain something called a "pander list" that you can ask to be put on. If your name is on the list, they will not send you more than one mailing a year.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:32 PM   #7
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Yes I have experienced the same thing. Not with charity, but with political donations.

I usually don't vote as I know it has no impact (my state has always gone heavily to one party my entire life... I'm outnumbered to say the least...). Instead I typically donate money to whoever I want to win, as I know that will actually be helpful.

It is super annoying to me that every time I donate money I then have to endure a barrage of political junk mail for the next year or more.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:33 PM   #8
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I rarely give to charity, partly because of the reason stated by OP. Too much money wasted on me in the form of solicitations and cutesy crap that frequently gets recycled.

Once I met the president of a charity, thought it was an awesome charity and gave him all the money in my wallet. I said please don't send me anything else, I like you guys and don't want you to waste precious resources on sending me stuff. He laughed, thanked me for my honesty and I never heard anything from them (on paper or by email) other than an emailed acknowledgement of my donation for tax purposes.

Wine to Water if anyone is interested. They bring clean drinking water through a variety of means to developing nations.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:56 PM   #9
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This is a big reason why people use donor advised trusts/funds. You can start one for as little as $5k at fido, schwab and other places.
+1 I always give anonymously using my Fidelity donor-advised fund. I could not care less about getting a -most likely standardized- thank you letter, so this works for me.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:35 PM   #10
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Yep. I stopped giving to an environmental organization when I realized that most of my donation was being used to ask me for more money. Not so good.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:38 PM   #11
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I get annoyed by this as well. I put all my charitable contributions in my budget at the beginning of the year and don't need a reminder, just a tax receipt. After I've been contributing every December to the same charity for the last 25 years, you'd think they would wise up and stop sending me stuff or calling me on the phone to chat me up. As Julia Roberts said to Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, "I'm a sure thing."
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:39 PM   #12
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I help those INDIVIDUALS I know to be in trouble which is not of their doing. Never give to any organized chaos ripoff organizations, ever. I have nor been able to convince DW of her folly, and ending up with stacks of begging crap mailings.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:46 PM   #13
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I also help individuals in need/trouble and not of their own doing. I'm in a small rural community and I help the local food bank and the volunteer fire department. For all of these I get a heart felt thank you and no solicitation or mailings.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:53 PM   #14
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We found an effective way to get rid of all the junk coming from charities. Instead, we get personalized, hand-written thank you notes.

The solution: Give them large amounts of money.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:57 PM   #15
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Yes I have experienced the same thing. Not with charity, but with political donations.

I usually don't vote as I know it has no impact (my state has always gone heavily to one party my entire life... I'm outnumbered to say the least...). Instead I typically donate money to whoever I want to win, as I know that will actually be helpful.

It is super annoying to me that every time I donate money I then have to endure a barrage of political junk mail for the next year or more.
My father gave to the republican party in 2000. He died in 2002 and even today he gets mail asking for donations. In 2012 I finally think I got thru to the right person on the telephone to let them know that he died 10 years ago, and the phone calls appear to have stopped (we will see in 2016). So yes it appears contributing to a political candidate is like checking into a roach motel.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:59 PM   #16
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A DAF sounds like a very good idea.

We pick just one charity each year to give all our giving to. Besides keeping the followup solicitations under control, it makes it easier for us since we donate appreciated stock.
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Old 03-31-2015, 06:00 PM   #17
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I've never had the gift of being smart enough to differentiate between people who are in trouble as the result of their own actions or in-actions from those who are in trouble for reasons not of their own doing.

I may check into a donor advised fund. Given my history and position in the community I'd rather not give anonymously (BTW, I'm not looking for recognition either) but would like to see the charities use the money I give for the work that they do rather than more solicitations.

I may try that "pander list" idea though.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:18 PM   #18
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DAF as others say. This is the way to go. We use Vanguard. Upside is it is easy to donate appreciated funds or stocks from our Vanguard accounts. Also simplifies things a lot at tax time.

Downside is their minimum is $500 compared to FIDOs $50. FIDO also has smaller "buy in" amounts.

But you know what? We limit the number of charities and give more to fewer. Limit it to ones we know very well, and have exemplary low overhead.

I find that the charities that send all that junk usually have way too much overhead. My dad gave to those crooks and I saw the result. He would get stickers, pads, clocks, flags, blankets, etc. About 2 items per week. Terrible.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:56 PM   #19
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As Julia Roberts said to Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, "I'm a sure thing."
I love that analogy!
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:28 PM   #20
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It would be interesting to see how the charities that send out a lot of "clutter" rank on sites like Charity Watch or Charity Navigator. My guess is that most of them perhaps don't rank strongly in terms if minimizing administrative expenses. I tend to favor local charities, in my experience they are much more accountable and you can directly see the impact they are making.

I don't make political donations because they are all crooks. Actually, I did once, only because it was a college friend of mine who was running for mayor of a city outside of my state. Though we didn't agree on some issues he did have a lot of integrity and didn't play the "my party is always right no matter what" game, had good ideas to improve the city that crossed party lines, and was not party of the entrenched political machine. I thought he would make a good mayor, and several other college friends and I all made contributions to his campaign. So we get dragged into a "scandal", as his opponent accuses him of being funded by "people outside of the state who don't have the city's best interest at heart, trying to get favors". My friend lost a close election, and THEN I start getting solicitations from his opponent asking for contributions to pay down their campaign debt since "our donation to the other campaign showed we cared for the city". Never again...
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