Is it unreasonable to expect charities to use gifts for charity?
Or are my feelings just an example of how I would be more gracious if I ate my dinner before I opened my mail?
While I was in high school, I read Nora Lam’s book about her fight for religious freedom in China. Afterward, I was so excited to help her to help others! I gave her a monetary gift, a check which unfortunately revealed my mailing address. Through high school, college, and beyond I received mail from her ministry at my parents’ address. Usually three letters each week, some including gifts of textile samples, chopsticks, and plastic beads intended to keep persecuted Christians in China on my mind. I was a student, and not loaded with cash anyway, but her tactics were a serious turnoff. I grew to dread seeing her return address on an envelope and never gave to her again. I think she has finally given up, but to know for sure I would have to ask my mother if they still receive her letters for me.
Seriously, I would like it if charities only use the money they are given to help people, or save kittens, whales, or trees. I don’t want them to slowly send the whole gift back to the giver in the form of paper and canceled postage. I cannot imagine that anyone would be happy to receive these solicitations or motivated by them to continue giving.
I sent this email today when I came home from work and found another magazine in my mail box from the Salvation Army, this time a Christmas magazine. Bah humbug!
Dear Salvation Army, I’m writing to ask to be removed from your mailing list. I gave to your charity almost two years ago. I do not have a lot of money. I do believe in your ministry and I do want to give to those who have less than I do.
I feel bad every time I see a solicitation from you in my mail box. It makes me feel that you have taken the gift I gave you and wasted that money by sending me all that mail. I would never use that kind of management if someone made me the steward of a gift intended to help someone else.
I initially gave to you because I was looking for a charity that would distribute my gift in a worthy way that would give honor to God. I had not found a church at that time and was looking for a place to send my tithe. I also wanted to be able to give to disaster relief occasionally, and thought you would provide me with a channel for that giving.
I remarked to a friend that I was looking for a charitable organization that would not try to guilt or pressure me, or pester me with endless mailings, or use the money I had given to do solicitation. It was important to me that all my gift be given to my intended use, not used to buy stamps.
My friend said that she thought the Salvation Army had high ethical standards and did not solicit in that way.
I believe I requested at the time of the gift that you not mail me a newsletter. I think I provided my email address so that you could thank me in an efficient way if you felt you needed to do so.
Over the past two years I have received several letters every month and periodic magazines. Your letters even followed me to my new apartment although I did not provide you a forwarding address. Please remove me from your list permanently, as I have found a way to give anonymously and avoid this kind of pestering in the future.
I have decided that no matter how much I want to help a good cause or respond to a plea for funds, in the future I will give to my local church instead. This is because the church still takes anonymous cash. And usually does not send mail. Has any one else found a way around this problem? Does anyone else even see it as a problem?