How Many Address Labels Do You Need? by Rich Paschall
If you have ever given to a charity, either online or by check in the mail, you may have gotten a number of solicitations the following year from similar charities. If you gave to several different organizations, requests might be clogging your inbox or your mailbox. That is of course if your letter carrier has time to sort the mail after the postmaster general trashed 711 high-speed sorting machines, but I digress.
You may wonder why you are getting all those new requests. Some may come from so-called charities that you have never heard of before. You might be tempted to send them money. After all, they do the same work as________ (fill in your favorite charity). But do they really?
It is an unfortunate fundraising fact that charities will sell their mailing lists to other charities as a way to make money. A directory of potential donors is of value to some organizations, and they are willing to pay money to have a listing of people who give money to charity, especially a similar charity. Are all of these other charities reputable? I am not so sure I would jump on the bandwagon of some organization that paid money to get your name and address.
If my mother were alive now she would be 100 years old on Christmas Day. She would tell you, and anyone who would listen, that she felt a bit cheated to have her birthday on Christmas. Everyone else had a separate celebration for their birthday. All she got was two Hallmark cards for one single day. I guess I would feel a bit cheated too. Like a good Catholic mother who grew up in the Depression, she had that guilt trip thing down to a science, but I digress…again!
She lived to be 88, so there were a lot of Christmases in her life. She passed away in 2009 on Inauguration Day. I know this because I was at home ironing a shirt and watching a replay of President Obama’s first Inauguration speech when I got the call from the nursing home. Some details stick with you.
For about 9 months before she went into the hospital and the nursing home, she lived at this address. She spent the last six years at the nursing home. For the first few months and the last few, it was not clear that she knew where she was. The last Christmas was very quiet.
This year my mother received a piece of mail at this address. I thought that was rather strange since nothing had arrived here for her this past decade. I figured I would not be in trouble with the Postal Service if I opened it because they may still be busy removing mailboxes and slashing working hours, but I digress…again…sorry.
“Dear Value Supporter” one item began. They apologized for not sending my mother a nickel with their mailing, but there seems to be a shortage of nickels due to the pandemic. You can believe their reason if you like. Sending a nickel or a dime with the mailing is a common fundraising ploy. Many people will send back the nickel or dime with their donation as the nice mailing requested. You might feel obligated to send them something because after all, they sent something to you. Years ago, some organizations would send an actual stamp, but the cost of those keep going up while the postmaster…oh, nevermind that part.
My mother had a stroke on Easter (or thereabout) in 1993. I say it that way because she did not answer her doorbell on Easter and I let myself in. She may have had the stroke a day or two earlier, but the paramedics rather doubted that. She spent three months in the hospital and another at a nursing home for rehabilitation. She never wrote another check in her life. She never owned a computer so there were no payments online.
In the years that followed, I wrote the checks and my mother did her best to sign them with her limited mobility. I kept track of all the bills and balanced the checkbook each month. I may have in fact sent a check the first year or two to the organization that so kindly mailed to my mother this month. My mother was particularly sensitive about people with disabilities and may have told me to “Send them a few bucks,” which I probably did.
After the first year or two, there would have been no more of that. The small social security check hardly made it to the end of the month, and the rest of her money was gone. She was no one’s supporter. I know it for a fact. When she could no longer stay in her apartment, we moved her to the building I live in. Only a handful of friends and relatives, the bank and the utilities, and of course social security and medicare, received the address change before she needed more care than we could provide.
Why did we get this now? It should be of no surprise that charitable organizations, like almost all businesses, are trying to find ways to supplement income. Fundraising is down as people stay home and spend less. Reaching out to past supporters might be a way to bring in some income, but reaching back 25 years or more seems like a real long shot.
The letter my mother received came with very nice address labels for her. In fact, the envelope advised that she was getting 55 percent more FREE address labels. More than what, I do not know, but she did get a lot of labels. Address labels are a common giveaway and often prompt return donations. I have a lifetime supply of address labels if I stay at the same address. In fact, so does my mother. Perhaps we should use them on our Christmas cards this week before the postmaster general can wreak more havoc on the Postal Service…but I digress.
See also: “USPS Launched DeJoy’s Changes Without Considering Impact, IG Says,” by Eric Katz, Government Executive, govexec.com, October 21, 2020