A Tsunami of Pleas for Money

These days, in election season, our mailbox is filled with requests for funding for all sorts or people running for office. Most, but not all are Texas-based, both state-wide and local. Yet we receive numerous donation requests from (especially) candidates for Senate in a wide number of other states. Based on these, I have to assume these are productive or otherwise they would not keep coming. I'm probably like most as I try from time to time to support someone. But that clearly must trigger some sort of "address/name sharing" tsunami as one or two of these results in tons of new requests.

The other source of cascades of mail are pleas for philanthropic support for medical and charitable organizations. At this point, my wife and I average at least five a day! After realizing I was writing checks without any system of tracking, I started a spreadsheet three years ago to track these organizations and any financial support my wife and I offer. The results are sobering! If one simply has way too much money or way too little means of tracking that support, these organizations will drain the donor dry! DRAIN that person DRY. Some will send requests for support every two or three months, including the month immediately after receiving your check! There seems to be no limit on how often they will do this. I suppose it must work, or they would not do it. The psychological tools used are clever and must be time-worn successful. These include sending little notepads, silly (to me) little verses, as well as actual checks (valid within sixty days) for one or two dollars. I suppose someone has calculated the percent of people who cash these things and whether those people donate, and how much. The accounting system must determine whether the system is profitable, or the charity would not continue it. I used to cash the check if it was a fund I already supported, but now tear them up on the spot, even if the fund is one that I support. Of course, getting someone to write a check sooner than that person normally would is a way to increase cash flow by itself.

Right at this moment, I have a stack of nine (nine, count 'em!) requests for charitable donations, received in the last three days, all of which my wife and I already support at the rate of one donation a year. We try to be good people and are not church members, so there is no religious financial support ... therefore we try to help other needs ... and there are plenty of requests for which we do not respond. But in this small stack of nine requests that are about to hit the trash container, each and every one of these is legit and is seeking multiple donations each year. It seems a real and honest need for charitable support is going way overboard. Thank goodness for simple tracking spreadsheets.

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J.K. (Jim) George

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11 Responses

  1. For the last 3-4 election cycles, we've supported Senate candidates we thought had a chance to win, always through Act Blue. Last time around, the only ones who did were in Georgia. Their list clearly gets shared -- it's a rare day that I don't receive at least a dozen emails from the democratic governors, from Booker and Klobuchar plugging candidates, from Georgia, and from candidates in several states where we've never sent money. We don't do much with charity, except for disaster relief.
  2. Well, you can imagine that we get requests for money almost daily from things we have supported and institutions that we have not donated to. We have a lot of religious places of course. However, we just continue to give to those to whom we choose to support. I am sorry they waste so much money. Not a good idea on their part. Makes them look bad. March of Dimes is the worst. There is no more polio in our country. All it supports is their salaries. Mentioning that, one should check out Good Will executive compensation. Wow. What a mess.
  3. Jim... Spot on! I constantly marvel at how a charity, to which I generously contribute each year, can send me constant solicitations asking for more. In January of this year, I received a letter from the classical public radio station, which I have supported for many years, thanking me for my year end donation. In that same mail, I received a solicitation from them asking me to renew my annual membership. That was more than I could stomach! I made PDF copies of both letters and sent them by email to the person who had "signed" them, suggesting that she should look into the problem they obviously had with computer software that could make such a glaring error. She immediately responded with an apology, saying essentially that she wasn't aware they were doing this (despite the fact that both letters came from her.) I am having a similar problem with a medical university whose research I have supported with large donations for many years. I now recognize that they significantly dilute my annual contribution by sending out expensive newsletters and solicitations for more contributions that will supposedly be matched by someone. I am about to tell them that "enough is enough," even though I don't want to stop supporting the doctor doing the research. But that may be the only way these people can begin to understand the magnitude of their annoying actions toward their contributors. Thanks for mentioning this! Jack W8KR
  4. I gave a donation to a former governor of Colorado during his bid in the 2016 elections. I have been hounded, insulted , shamed and demeaned for not having the courage to stand up. I'll stand up ! If I get a good address I'm going in my pickup with my stick. When I'm done in that office I'll be the only one standing.- Enough ! There is no loss of people around us who need and deserve help. Cut out the middle men who are driving nice cars and living large at the expense of our causes. Kenneth Copland of Dallas would be a good example.
  5. JIM - My wife Dottie and I resemble your and your wife's experiences!!! We give once per year (in December) to several organizations, in addition to monthly offerings to our church and periodic donations to Va Tech. We, too, receive regular requests for donations from the organizations we already contribute to, as well as many other organizations which have obtained our address from some unknown source. Alas, live goes on...
  6. JK James George
    From Anon-1: F**k ‘em, is our most common reaction. Having said that, I have no idea how much we give during the year, as I do not keep track, but will when getting our tax stuff ready. Certainly, there are many that we do donate to regularly, but as far as political $$, quite rare (I think).
  7. Like you and Diana, Jo and I are swamped with requests for donations. We have selected several that we want to contribute to regularly. We typically do this in two ways so that we can keep track of them. Ones that we want to contribute a fixed amount annually get a single check in January as we start preparing our taxes for the prior year. By then we have received receipts from them for last year's contributions. If you contribute too late in the year, you may not receive a receipt by tax time. If we decide to give regularly by credit card, we make the amount an odd amount so that it stands out on the credit card statement. For example, PBS might get a monthly contribution of $14. As for political contributions, it is obvious that they do trade email lists, or at least they maintain a single list at Democratic Headquarters. We receive regular requests from candidates across the country. I have found it pretty effective to simply unsubscribe from an individual's request. You may get requests from lots of candidates, but by unsubscribing you do avoid getting multiple requests from the same candidate.
  8. JK James George
    From Anon-2: Amen! Looking at 5 on my computer today…..
  9. JK James George
    From Anon-3: Hanging in there, but what is going on in the international scene is sure discouraging, as well as the growing division in our country. We have made a contribution to the International Red Cross. Trying to look at something more positive, hope that the downward trend of pandemic figures continues.. Waiting to hear about when to get a 2nd booster.
  10. JK James George
    From Anon-4: I think this is and will be a very helpful blog for others to read, nice work.
  11. JK James George
    From Anon-5: Totally agree. I like your selections for giving; I contribute to some of those, especially Salvation Army and Red Cross, and some of those wounded veteran organizations. Other worthy recipients include National Parks, Nature Conservancy and Austin Wildlife Rescue (I really like that niche and enjoy their newsletters). As you point out, one phenomenon at work that is different from the past: the intense sharing of contact and personal data between the groups, which must be highly automated by now. No doubt they pay each other for leads, in some manner. That and the sheer volume, month after month--most go in the trash.

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