Paper Management – How to stop junk mail from charities (Part 1)

Wondering how to stop junk mail from charities?

When I help clients sort through their backlog of mail, one common issue I’ve noticed is the amount of donation requests. In many cases, a full one-third of the paper piles consist of paper-based begging. In disgust of the overload, the clients always end up dumping the entire donation request stack into the shred pile. This is a lose-lose-lose situation. Potential donors don’t want to give because they’re overwhelmed and sick of the unwanted mail. The charities don’t get the funds they need, and they’ve wasted their marketing dollars on the contents of your shred pile. The environment also loses because it doesn’t need any more unwanted paper being produced, consumed and discarded.

Enter The Salvation Army’s new program, “Friends of The Army.”

Their three-page mailed announcement declares:

Most nonprofit organizations mail donors so often because they count on them to help their cause. But it can be exhausting for donors who feel overwhelmed by so much mail.” Great! A charity is finally understanding the inconvenience their mailouts cause.

The less mail The Salvation Army can send, the more funds they have for their programs and services to help hundreds of thousands of people in need across the area.” Wonderful! They realize they can create a win-win.

Friends of The Army lets donors specify how much and how often they are able to give as well as how much mail they wish to receive from The Salvation Army.” Awesome! This sounds like a great promise!

But here’s the fine print:

With the exception of The Salvation Army’s cornerstone mailings and newsletters, donors can now have control over how often they receive mail from the charity.” Hmmmm. So you’ll receive your requested number of donor invoices plus the additional mailings. I guess that will equate to somewhat less mail?

Keep in mind that in order to get less mail, you must sign up for their program. Signing up requires making a donation promise. So if you choose to give to a different organization and not to The Salvation Army, you won’t be in their Friends program.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. But change also doesn’t happen without taking that first step. The Salvation Army’s new program isn’t perfect, but it’s a start.

Next week, we’ll look at specific steps you can take to stop junk mail from charities.


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