Giving to charity without getting junk mail?
October 18, 2006 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way to donate money to charity without ending up on junk mail lists?
posted by blakeleyh to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Most charities will allow you to make an anonymous donation. Instead of a check, send a money order or another similar valid method of payment.
posted by galimatias at 6:03 PM on October 18, 2006

Anonymously. Cash in an envelope works.
posted by peeedro at 6:04 PM on October 18, 2006

My 503(c)3 organization would NEVER sell, share, or give away a donor's information, and we make that very clear to everyone that supports us.

My advice, give locally, to small organizations who have a clear policy on this. works!
posted by HuronBob at 6:18 PM on October 18, 2006

if you're worried about cash getting lost, or ending up in the wrong hands , a postal money order can be made out to the organization you are wanting to support.
posted by bilabial at 6:34 PM on October 18, 2006

My 503(c)3 organization would NEVER sell, share, or give away a donor's information, and we make that very clear to everyone that supports us.

Same with mine, a small non-profit. We also honor all requests to not be placed on our mailing list. My advice is the same as HuronBob's: support small, local organizations.
posted by rhapsodie at 6:38 PM on October 18, 2006

posted by unixrat at 6:50 PM on October 18, 2006

Anonymous donations do not get you a receipt from said charity for your taxes. I'm lucky in that my employer has a charitable collection program where they deduct it out of your paycheck and pay the charity of your choice. My W2 reflects the charitable contributions and the charities don't get my name.
posted by Doohickie at 8:04 PM on October 18, 2006

Huh. USA Today's "Your Money" column was about this very question this past Monday: Charitable givers can kiss a lot of junk mail goodbye if they're careful:

Some folks become so annoyed by the junk mail and phone calls that they threaten to stop giving. But if you want to help causes you care about, that's not a solution. Fortunately, there are ways to give and keep a low profile. Some examples:

• Try Internet giving sites. Network for Good and are non-profit groups that process online donations to thousands of charities. Both websites let you make anonymous contributions to the charity of your choice...

• Use donor-advised funds at mutual fund companies. These funds let you make a donation to the fund, take a tax deduction immediately and decide later which charities you want to support. Most donor-advised funds let you make anonymous contributions...

• Make privacy a condition of your gift. Look for charities that have a written policy stating that they won't sell or trade your information. Some charities let donors "opt out" of receiving solicitations.

• Contact the charity directly. Tell the organization that you've made your contribution for the year — or the month or quarter — and don't want to receive anymore requests, Stamp suggests.

• Register with the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service program. The association keeps a list of individuals who don't want to receive unsolicited mail from its members. Non-profit groups that belong to the association are required to remove names of consumers who have registered. Signing up for the program won't end junk mail. While there are thousands of charities registered with the IRS, only 250 to 300 non-profits are members of the marketing association.

• Limit the number of charities you support. If you make small donations to a large number of charities, you'll get a lot of junk mail. A small contribution, such as $25, barely covers the cost of the solicitation, so the charity is more likely to sell or trade your name to another organization, Stamp says. Charities are less likely to sell or trade the names of people who make large gifts because they don't want to risk losing them to another charity.

posted by mediareport at 8:29 PM on October 18, 2006

With charities that don't remove my name after my first written request, I send another letter requesting my name's removal, pointing out that I already asked them once on such-and-such a date, and adding,
"I'm sure I don't need to point out that the easier it is to have our contact information removed from an organization's mailing list, the more likely it is that we would be interested in making a future donation to that organization."

Some online donation forms have a space for additional comments. I use that to request that they not put my name on their mailing list. For ones that don't, I call them the day after my donation and request verbally. (This has made me much more inclined to donate to the ones that have "additional comments" space. Saves me time.) If I donate using a paper form I write the request on it somewhere, and that seems to work fine.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:57 PM on October 18, 2006

What I do (not only with donations, but with every exchange of money):

Make it very clear to the org that you will only donate to them if they specify in writing that your info won't be sold or given to any third party.

The more people make this clear, the more it will push orgs to realize people want and deserve their privacy!
posted by lorimer at 10:49 PM on October 18, 2006

Dropping off cash in an envelope is a bad idea. The person who accepts it may be an unscrupulous intern / student / frend-of-a-friend / community-service quasi-volunteer whose commitment to the cause is exiguous, and the temptation to pocket the cash when there's no paper trail might be too much. A money order or cashier's check made out to the organization but which lacks your personal info is your best bet.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:59 PM on October 18, 2006

Best answer: You don't need all this threatening.

On the reply device (the piece of paper that accompanies your mailing), fill it out normally and write

Do not share my info
Do not mail me for any reason except to acknowledge this gift.

The charities are legally obligated to not mail you any more (my fiancee soon wife works in direct mail for charities)

You will only get the acknowledgement (the paper that says how much you donated, which you need for tax write off purposes).

posted by gte910h at 12:50 AM on October 19, 2006

I've never gotten any junk mail from the money I've given to to be used as a microloan---though I do get progress reports from the small businesses that are using the microloan. Very gratifying. Check it out.
posted by LeisureGuy at 8:45 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

I agree with Michael (gte910h? Don't want to take liberties.) Anyway, I work for a nonprofit and while we do trade names (only with similar small nonprofits with similar missions! I swear!) we always always ALWAYS make sure to remove people who ask not to have their names traded. Why? Because why on earth would we want to piss off our donors? And maybe some nonprofits can do okay not getting new names to solicit from like organizations, but for most (totally legit, respectful of privacy, above-the-board) organizations, one-time name trades to solicit new members are how we survive.

Bottom line: nearly all legit nonprofit orgs want to keep you, the donor, as happy as possible, and will respect any wishes you have regarding your privacy to the best of their abilities. You just have to tell them!
posted by audrey the bug at 2:03 PM on October 19, 2006

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