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Dear Charity August 23, 2013

Posted by craftlass in life lessons.
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Dear charity,

I believe in your cause. I really do. That is why I gave you money. I understood at the time that this would open me up to receiving requests for more money, after all, I did willingly give you my contact information. I am proud to have given you money. I don’t have a lot, but when I have a little something to give, I give. I’m very interested in what you are doing and appreciate the occasional update or news alert. It makes me feel like that bit of money is getting together with everyone else’s to do something positive and sometimes the news you send me might not reach my eyes otherwise. Being informed is a good thing.

The problem is, nothing with you is occasional.

At least you’ve given up on the snail mail. Not too long ago you provided my shredder with a whole lot of munchies. Snail mail costs and I have had experience at bulk mailing, it takes a lot of work to properly prepare everything and that takes manpower. To add to the insanity, you sent every piece of mail to both me and my partner, which means that I had to spend a bunch of time shredding two pieces of mail (if you add it up over the years, of course) that someone in your office spent a lot of time creating. You’ve probably spent at least as much money mailing me requests for more money as I spent giving to you. The fact that you came to your senses and dropped the mailings is a very good thing.

Unfortunately, this leaves email. Email is good, it costs nothing to send and takes less work than any bulk mailing ever has. The problem is, this ease and convenience means that you seem to think that flooding my inbox is a good idea that might convince me to give you more money. I don’t think there has ever been a whole week where you have not sent me an email. In fact, I’d be shocked if there’s ever been a week with as few as one. Morning after morning, I see your name there. I’d like to open them, since they might contain some piece of information I’d like to have. The trouble is, if I do open it, the most likely content is a rehash of things you have already told me followed by all the reasons I need to give more now, RIGHT NOW, because, you know, it is a CRUCIAL MOMENT and that means MORE MONEY is needed for the FINAL PUSH. Those phrases lose their EMPHASIS when you REPEAT them MULTIPLE TIMES per WEEK. It becomes less and less likely that any individual piece of mail will have new information. Since I have nothing to give right now, I just wind up annoyed and guilty. And guilty about feeling annoyed. Because I really do believe in your cause and want to support it. I really do.

What happens the next time I have a little money to give? It goes to someone else. Just because I believe in your cause doesn’t mean that there aren’t others that deserve my time, money, and attention just as much as yours, if not more.

I haven’t given you money in years. I’m exhausted. I feel harassed. Why would I pay you to harass me?

A lot of people are hurting financially these days and can’t give like they used to. In turn, this means charitable donations are down across the board. Even major institutions that have never had trouble raising funds are struggling. This naturally leads to increasingly shrill requests to those who have given before to give and give and give some more. This makes sense, from a standpoint of pure logic. Really, though, how often are humans dictated by logic? We’re more complicated than that. We value our money but we value our time even more since we know we can’t make more of that no matter how hard we work or even how lucky we might be. To really screw with an old phrase, no one ever looks back on their deathbed and says, “I wish I spent more time reading emails from charities.”

Once upon a time there was a guy who wanted to date me. He was a good guy, sweet and funny and cute and kind. I might have been very interested in him if his technique for wooing didn’t come in the form of at least 2 phone calls per day, notes and cards left in my door regularly, and even sometimes mysteriously appearing while I was hanging out with other people and hadn’t mentioned my plans to him. He wasn’t quite stalking me, he was just making a big effort in his stumbling adolescent way, but that was enough. I knew he wasn’t boyfriend material because he was already making me feel trapped without consenting to even a single date. He was eating away at my precious time and energy.

This is how you are making me feel now, dear charity.

I know I can opt-out of emails, but the thing is, I really do appreciate knowing what you are working on. If there were some form of compromise in place, like an email list that only receives breaking news with a reminder that donations would help, I would be okay with that. I would probably even give you money again as soon as I can. Heck, I’d happily volunteer to help set it up and give you some of that time I value more than money.

As it stands, you are always in my mind when I am choosing who to give to. I don’t really need the reminders. You are the top charity in your cause and get tons of publicity. I doubt anyone who gives to you needs reminders more than, say, once a year or so. I’d probably be okay with a request per month, even. That seems reasonable. I know you need more money and need to ask everyone for it.

Still, I long for a day when your requests are a little less hyperbolic and a whole lot less frequent. If that day ever comes I will support you with everything I have.

The line between helpful and harassing is a very fine one. Find it and then stay on the good side of it.

Keep up the good work you do and I hope you find these suggestions helpful.

Love,

CraftLass

P.S. Yes, this was inspired by one specific charity. No, I’m not going to name it. The thing is, while one has truly infuriated me, everything I wrote can be applied to many. You, dear reader, and I may not agree on a single cause but I bet we’ve both experienced this!

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