BBC News - The direct mail that tugs the heartstrings http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33549655
This rant was brought about by a reminder via the BBC News site of the way charities target people.
I realise that charities need to be given money and time and often old clothes to work, and I know about the argument that the money spent on advertising and promotion is regained in donations but one thing that is annoying is that it's not fairly spread.
For example. I see an online request or a TV advert for a specific event (in the last year this has happened to me at least twice) I respond with a donation - usually using a website, my name and address and details are given. Over the next year I receive numerous 'news letters', 'updates', requests for more money, asks for direct debits, pens, coasters, in short I receive in 'junk' mail well over the value of the original donation I made. So while over all, the advertising is paid for by donations, I feel that mine is wasted and hasn't gone to the thing I intended at all.
And usually, unlike with an email, I don't have an easy opt out on the paper mail. There is no 'send the enclosed card back to stop future mail'. Last year after about the 7th mailshot I finally tracked down, via an online search, an email address and asked to be removed from the mailing list. So far I have had no more mail from that charity.
Christmas is also a high pressure time for charities with certain charities insisting on sending 'gifts' of pens, stickers, wrapping paper, cards etc and then asking for a donation. The idea here is presumably to make you feel so guilty at having received a gift that you donate more. It's horrible to add such pressure in a donation request in my opinion.
The people in the cases the BBC highlights feel pressured to give and I feel that too sometimes, though the final effect too much 'bumpf' through the post actually has, is to harden me to charity requests.
Because I do support several charities (on a regular basis) I now find it easier to disregard letters that fall on the mat begging me to stop child abuse, help battered woman and feed the starving elderly. I send these letters straight into the recycling. I am not proud or happy about this hard hearted attitude, I would like to be soft and kind and care lots but as the BBC has reported, it doesn't stop, it increases. Donate £5 and next you will be asked to donate £20 and then set up a direct debit and then a new, equally worthy cause will fall onto your mat.
I don't know the answer. For me it is picking a charity or two and setting up a regular donation. I do respond sometimes to world disasters but luckily my main charity is also a member of DEC so I don't get extra requests subsequently. Otherwise, for local charities I donate in cash only, so they don't have my details or know who I am. Perhaps charities could look at online and phone donations and ask at the time "Is this a one off donation or should we contact you in the future?" and make that a large and clear question, not a vague check box buried amongst the terms and conditions in a way large corporations would be proud of. Don't even get me started on the 'chuggers'; the charity muggers that accost you on the street and try and guilt you into donating, showing you pictures of starving cats and beaten dogs.
Have I got 'compassion fatigue'? Is it possible that the constant attempts by so many charities to wear me down, to get me to part with money, has actually had the opposite effect? Maybe.
How do you cope? Do you give regularly? Not at all? Cash only? Or are you a sucker for a good cause and give as often as you can?
For information you might like Give as You Live - an online scheme (which costs you nothing) where you sign up and many online purchases cause charity donations to be given on your behalf, Amazon is part of their scheme for example.
The charities I support regularly are CMT UK (as I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth it's rather self serving of me) and World Vision - where I sponsor a child in Uganda.