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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!

As a 501 (c) (3) organization itself, Charity Navigator depends on public support to help donors make informed choices. Please consider investing in the future of Charity Navigator by making a donation today.  Donate now >>


JawjaJim said...

THANKS for these suggestions. For years now, I've included a note with my charitable donations requesting they only send me ONE notice/year, near end of year, to renew my memberships or annual donations. In spite of that, most of them continue sending "Emergency" or "Crisis" solicitations. This makes me want to STOP giving and indeed, with some of them that are most egregious about sending appeals, I have stopped giving to them. If possible, could you make charities aware of that? THANKS AGAIN
Jim Callison

Unknown said...

Here's another way to give anonymously: When ordering checks, order them in blank sheets; i.e. no Name, Return Address or other identifying information printed on them. (I use Quicken, with laser-printed checks, that come in sheets of three checks to a page.) The checks come with only the bank/branch name, the coded Account, Routing Number and Check Number. When I receive my checks, I laser-print the sheets with the information that I wish to appear on the top-left corner, including logos, etc. I can print anything I want (or nothing) in that portion of the check, which is typically where the identifying information resides.

When I wish to give anonymously, I send a check with no added identifying information on it. That is all the banks require for a check to be negotiated, so the recipient has no way, other than tracing routing and account numbers through the bank, to send more solicitations or to swap our information with other charities or businesses.

The checks always clear - so I have the necessary receipt for tax deductiblity or evidence of payment - and no one has any clue who sent it.

Asking for anonymity is one thing, but sending a check without any identifying information is the only way to be certain. And no one has ever complained about receiving funds, or our paying funds in that manner.