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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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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Solicitation Overload: Why So Many During the Holidays?

You may have noticed a major uptick in the number of times you heard from charities in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years.  We heard from a number of Charity Navigator users and supporters asking why they were receiving so many emails and letters and what they can do to cut back. 

Often, the holidays bring out the best in people - they give back to causes close to their hearts and even ask their loved ones to make a donation in their name instead of getting gifts. As a result, many charities receive the majority of their funding during this special time of year. When you couple this with the midnight deadline on New Year’s Eve for tax-deductible giving, charities respond by increasing the number of emails, letters, phone calls, text messages, and more.

Looking for a way to cut back on all of the solicitations you receive from charities at the end of the year? Here are a few easy ways you can regain control of your inbox and mailbox.

Donate anonymously

The thought here is simple: charities can’t contact you if they don’t know who you are. Donating anonymously allows you to protect your privacy while still being generous. It will also ensure your name and contact information isn’t shared with other organizations or third parties (to learn more about this, click here).

Some donors opt to use their donor-advised funds (DAFs) to give anonymously, while others may donate money order or via check without their personal information. Using Charity Navigator’s Giving Basket is another great way to protect your privacy when donating - our platform allows users to select how much information they want shared with each charity they’re supporting.

Make it monthly

Charities communicate with current and past donors more during times of year when they’re likely to be more receptive, like the holiday season. Many organizations allow for you to sign up to make a recurring gift, whether it be monthly, quarterly, or annually. If you’re signed up to make a recurring gift, most organizations will not contact you to make an additional gift.  And, if they do, it’s likely that it will be much less frequent than if you make a one-time gift each year. 

Get in touch

Tell the charities you support what your plans and preferences are -- do you plan to give once a year? Or quarterly? What can they expect from you? This will help them reach out to you at the optimal times. You can also ask them to pause or limit their communications with you. Respectable charities will want to accommodate your wishes.

And, don’t forget, you always have the opportunity to unsubscribe from email communications you don’t want to receive. Most often, this option is provided at the bottom of charities’ emails to you. While the organization will be sad to see you go, unsubscribing is a better option than reporting the email you’re receiving as spam, which would hurt its reputation as an email sender.

Even though you may not be faced with an email or letter from a nonprofit as regularly now that December has passed, if you have room in your budget to support an organization that aligns with your passions, we encourage you to do so.  Receiving a contribution outside of the holiday season should be greatly appreciated.  You can utilize the tips outlined here to make sure your giving sets you up for success. For more tips on managing your mailbox, check out this helpful blog article.

Written by Kevin Scally, Chief Relationship Officer, and Ashley Post, Communications Manager, at Charity Navigator.

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 >> 


Luvaduck said...

Ah, but what about politicians? There is no possible way to check out "contenders" or even those holding an office that isn't time/labor intensive, and donors to even one eveidentally puts you on a master solicitation list for all and sundry nation-wide.

Unknown said...

Many non profits have a matching offer, often in December. For example, I might give $50 in early November only to learn that in December, that same agency has a matching offer. If I had waited till December to give $50, my gift would have been doubled. I sometimes ponder whether I should postpone all my giving till December so that, if there is a match, my gift will go twice as far.
At the same time, I realize that agencies operate 12 months of the year and it would be challenging for them to operate the other 11 months of the year if everyone followed this thinking.
Louis Bowers

ReeGee said...

While I appreciate the need for charities to solicit donations, I really resent the constant barrage of so many requests. I'd be broke if I donated to all the charities that send requests. My issue is once I donate to one or two, I am bombarded with requests from dozens of others. Additionally, there are some organizations that continue to hound you once you donate. One charity in particular continues to send requests even after I repeatedly requested they stop. I have more cards, notepads, address labels than I will ever use in my lifetime. It's a ridiculous waste of paper. My other pet peeve with donation requests to specific charities made in memory of someone. The charity has now captured your information and then you're caught in the endless loop of emails, snail mail and phone calls to make additional donations.
I gladly support charities I believe in and that are financially managed well, but I also have to manage my donations.

Unknown said...

The section on donating anonymously does not say whether such a donation is tax deductible. That seems like an important detail to leave out. Or did I miss it?

hemomed said...

I make most of my charitable contributions by QCD (qualified charitable distributions) from my IRA required distributions. It is my understanding that I must have written acknowledgement from the charity that they received the distribution and that I received nothing of value in return for the QCD to be considered tax deductible by the IRS. I do include a letter asking that the charity not continue to solicit me or sell my contact information to other charities.

Unknown said...

Great non-profits know to go against the grain and do their matching gifts campaigns OUTSIDE of the holidays. Less competition for the same dollars, less competition for attention since they are the only ones doing one, and they can get fuller consideration from their prospective donors.

A smart non-profit would ask in May, June, or July to exploit the quieter time. I've asked my local food bank to stop sending paper solicitations since it is a waste of money on paper and postage. I told them that email is the way to go. So, they just flood my inbox with email instead. But, I only kick in when they have a matching gift campaign, which they smartly sprinkle throughout the year. They are very good at their program, keeping a low overhead, and do rake in the donations: a triple win.

Unknown said...

I feel the same way. I donate to have the money help the people in the charity, not to have them send more address labels, calendars, etc.

SBE said...

If I were to make a donation of only one dollar to every charity that snail-mails me asking for money, political or other, would they think I'm stingy and remove me from their... uh... sucker lists?