Unlike many people these days, I write letters. Real mail! I’m a great supporter of Canada Post and for the most part, I love getting mail.
But in the last two weeks I’ve received mail from nine very fine charitable organizations, several of whom I sometimes support financially. These included “free gifts” of three calendars, two cheap pens, a pair of gloves, three small note pads and several dozen return address stickers. The calendars are nice enough, but who needs a lot of calendars these days? I use my iPhone for a calendar and I know I will have gifts of two very beautiful calendars, one from a friend who is a brilliant photographer of birds and one from a friend who is a talented artist. These I will happily use and treasure, but I don’t need any more and I can’t think of anyone who might want one of these promotional calendars.
I don’t need these free gifts and I don’t like to have to discard them. I can’t think of anyone who might want the gloves, the little notebooks or the trashy pens. And, even though I write many more letters than most people I know, I will never even begin to use the many dozens of return address stickers I’ve collected through the years.
I really would prefer that the charities to which I donate, would spend their time and money on their important work and not on these outdated forms of promotion and fund-raising.
Sometimes I send a cheque along with a letter back to these organizations, telling them that I think their marketing people are advising them badly. But I prefer to donate to some of the excellent organizations that don’t choose to fundraise in this fashion, places like Eco-trust, Kids International and others.
We’re moving towards the season of loving and spending, which is why everyone is asking for donations right now. I probably won’t stop sending money to any of these organizations, but the ones I really admire are those that don’t send me junk I don’t want but instead simply send a short note or — better yet — an email message telling me what they’re doing and what they need.
I keep thinking about the trees that are being sacrificed to send out all this mail. We all need paper, but maybe we could save a few trees if we stopped printing and sending out junk mail.