Take My Name Off Your List


New Year’s resolutions haven’t worked for me in the past. I’m talking about diet, exercise, early to bed, early to rise, and healthier living stuff. I’ve gone bust and blotto in previous years when I’ve vowed to be kinder, patient and more understanding. Those goals seem to work only on a moment to moment basis. I always end up getting angry at the idiotic, little things in life. Tiny annoyances are my undoing, so I’m going to try to get rid of some of them.

This year I am determined to undo some things that bother me. First on my “undo list” is junk mail. I have just hauled a huge recycling trash can to the curb. It’s full of solicitations from charities. I’m in a foul, funky mood and it’s all because of all the paper trash I receive. It’s polluting Long Beach Island as well as the country and planet. I continue with this trash task, spouting fire like a dragon. To be honest, I’m just exhaling cold, white smoke in the frigid air while I drag the can to the curb.

I have a plan to deal with the umpteen charitable solicitations I receive every day in the mail. They are a large source of what I call paper pollution. I do believe in giving to charities and like to contribute to them on a yearly basis, not every week! Most days there are a multitude of letters and catalogs from animal rights, environmental, medical, educational, cultural, religious and veterans organizations. I’m sure I’ve missed some categories. I’m also sure most of them are worthwhile.

The problem is I can’t give to all of them. There are mailings from banks, brokers, stores, real estate companies and travel agencies. You get the picture. I sort most of them into the recycling bin and save the ones I want to help in the file near my checkbook.

There is also the problem of telephone solicitations. Since I have caller I.D. I don’t answer any phone calls I don’t recognize. If I’m home for the day, the phone may ring 10 or more times. This is a big annoyance, especially at dinner time, the most popular hour for solicitors and robot calls. Some paid telephone junkies have mastered the art of using local area codes. Beware of answering as the calls may not be local at all. All the telephone interruptions have lessened after my determination not to answer.

I use the website Charity Navigator to research the credibility and transparency of organizations. This online service helps you determine the percentage of money given to the charity as opposed to its other expenses. Most of the larger charities are rated by stars, four being the highest.

My plan is to give one check per charity a year spaced out over 12 months. January is my schedule for environmental groups such as American Wildlife and Ocean Conservancy. February I donate to medical groups such as MS and cancer research, and so on through the calendar year.

Sometimes I deviate because a donation may be doubled by a very generous sponsor. No matter what I give, I usually receive a thank-you with an enclosed message to give again. The mailings continue weekly or monthly, sometimes with a brazen second or third notice scrawled across the envelope. This adds up to hundreds and thousands of mailings a year.

After much thought, I am enclosing the following letter with my donation:

“Dear ________ (fill in charity or name of organization),

“Please accept this yearly donation to _______ ( insert amount). This is my annual contribution. I realize you have to spend a certain amount of money on solicitations, but I would appreciate no more mailings from you this year. Is there someway your information technology specialist could program software to send only yearly reminders to annual givers?

“Last year I received over 15 ‘reminders’ from you. Please note that I don’t want any gifts or cards sent. I am making this request to all the charities I help fund in hopes that it might make a difference. It would save you money over the long run and cut down on reams of excess paper.

“I realize everyone does not subscribe to this yearly method of giving. I know it is important to your cause to remind donors. I also know it is possible for your I.T. specialist to program your computer to send one mailing to its annual donors so we are not bombarded with solicitations. I intend to give more to the charities that can accomplish this and publicize their efforts. It would be a small step in the art of philanthropy and to the environment.

“Postscript: Giving to charities should not be such an ordeal. I can only hope that this message might reach the higher-ups, the officials who are paid to increase your fund raising. I will surely be the first to compliment them and pledge to increase my donation.”

Kathleen Donnelly lives in Beach Haven Terrace.

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