Thinking of Trees

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prefer that the charities to which I donate, would spend their time and money on their important work and not on these outdated forms of promotion and fund-raising.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.

4 thoughts on “Thinking of Trees

  1. I too get hot under the collar on receiving these charity requests for donations that are packed with paper and and presents. I have received the usual stickers, cards and envelopes, and even fabric shopping bags. It is not the waste of paper that sends me through the roof—for those charities I often send all their paper right back with a note— but what really upsets me is that they are manipulating peoples emotions. They are knowingly operating on making you feel guilty to have received what they have sent in order for you to reach into your pocket to donate back to them. It is this wilful manipulation that I think is morally wrong and I refuse to donate to them. It is worth checking on the efficiency of the bigger charities to see if it is worth donating to them. How much of your dollar goes to 'administration ' and how much directly to 'the cause'? Here are a couple of good resources.https://www.charityintelligence.ca/https://www.macleans.ca/society/canadas-best-charities-2020-top-100/

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  2. Carol, I so appreciate you bringing this issue forward in advance of the holiday season where many not-profits are looking to differentiate their causes. The pens, paper, and 'bling' reminds me of the 70's TB and Veteran campaign where we received personalized key chains, etc in the mail. With COVID, many non-profits are struggling to remain relevant. While a 'bling' mail out may not be appropriate for our times, particularly with our focus on environment, I appreciate that ' desperate times, call for desperate measures'. I would suggest reaching out to those organizations and engaging in a dialogue of other fundraising strategies. To Lizhk's comments re: investigating admin overhead, I fully support her references.

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  3. I too get hot under the collar on receiving these charity requests for donations that are packed with paper and and presents. I have received the usual stickers, cards and envelopes, and even fabric shopping bags. It is not the waste of paper that sends me through the roof—for those charities I often send all their paper right back with a note— but what really upsets me is that they are manipulating peoples emotions. They are knowingly operating on making you feel guilty to have received what they have sent in order for you to reach into your pocket to donate back to them. It is this wilful manipulation that I think is morally wrong and I refuse to donate to them. It is worth checking on the efficiency of the bigger charities to see if it is worth donating to them. How much of your dollar goes to 'administration ' and how much directly to 'the cause'? Here are a couple of good resources.https://www.charityintelligence.ca/https://www.macleans.ca/society/canadas-best-charities-2020-top-100/

    Like

  4. Carol, I so appreciate you bringing this issue forward in advance of the holiday season where many not-profits are looking to differentiate their causes. The pens, paper, and 'bling' reminds me of the 70's TB and Veteran campaign where we received personalized key chains, etc in the mail. With COVID, many non-profits are struggling to remain relevant. While a 'bling' mail out may not be appropriate for our times, particularly with our focus on environment, I appreciate that ' desperate times, call for desperate measures'. I would suggest reaching out to those organizations and engaging in a dialogue of other fundraising strategies. To Lizhk's comments re: investigating admin overhead, I fully support her references.

    Like

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