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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

Charity Navigator's Guide to Managing Your Mailbox

We know you’ve opened to the mailbox to find a seemingly endless stack of store flyers, bills, and charity solicitations. You sort your way through the sale papers and coupons, set the bills aside, and now you’re left with the daunting mountain of solicitations--each one from a worthwhile organization in need of your support.

Perhaps you recognize one or two because you gave to them last year, but now there’s three new organizations--charities you haven’t given to before. How’d they get there? And how do you stop this from happening?

Take a few minutes to read our tips for managing your mailbox.

Donor Privacy Policy? Check.

Checking for an organization’s Donor Privacy Policy is one of the easiest things you can do to protect yourself from unwanted mail. This policy clearly states a charity’s intention for using your name and address, and is factored in Charity Navigator’s Accountability and Transparency rating metrics.

Some organizations sell or swap these lists with others to grow their mailing lists. While this practice isn’t illegal, we often hear from frustrated donors who didn’t know their information would be used this way. We call this practice out in our Accountability and Transparency rating to make donors aware before they give.

Other organizations have an opt-out policy, which means that donors must let the charity know they do not want to have their information sold or traded with other organizations or third parties. Donors can often provide a note along with their donation to opt-out.

Finally, some organizations are fully committed to keeping donors’ information private and secure. Donors can expect that these organizations will not sell or trade their information with other groups and do not need to provide written consent to opt-out.

Learn more about Charity Navigator’s methodology for evaluating Donor Privacy Policies.

Make Fewer Small Gifts

Consider limiting the number of charities you support and donating larger amounts to a smaller number of groups. It may seem counterintuitive, but making small gifts will often land you on more mailing lists. Small gifts can signal to charities that you are an easy donor to acquire and they may start mailing you in an effort to bring you into the fold with a $20 gift.

Give Anonymously

It’s hard for an organization to add you to their mailing list when they don’t have your name or contact information. If you give by mail, consider adding a note to your donation requesting that the gift be marked as “Anonymous” in the charity’s database. If you give online, look for an “Anonymous” option at check out.

Charity Navigator’s Giving Basket provides donors the opportunities to give anonymously and ensures they will still be properly tax receipted. This is a great tool for simplifying your giving and making donations to multiple charities at once in one transaction.

These are just a few of Charity Navigator’s tips for managing your mailbox. You can find even more helpful tips on this topic and lots of others our website!

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