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    Why You Should Tell Charities How You Want to Hear from Them

    Having only the charities you're interested in reaching out to you prevents the wasting of time and resources.

    You get a postcard from a charity you donated to once through a friend’s fundraiser. It sits on a pile of mail for a week or so before it ends up in the recycling with the other mailings you didn’t read. You’ll get another mailing from the same organization in a few months, and the cycle will repeat. Over time, many of us build up a long list of charities with our contact information. We donate to different causes or sign up for informational mailings, and then, for one reason or another, they lose relevance and become part of a junk mail problem. Getting correspondence you don’t want from a charity wastes everyone’s time and resources. You can — and should — take steps to prevent this waste. 


    Make Things Easy for Yourself 


    Junk mail piling up in your mailboxes — physical and virtual — can suck your time and mental energy as you manage them or watch them accrue. They can even contribute to donation fatigue. When you pare down the correspondence you receive to just the organizations you want to hear from and in the ways you prefer, you streamline your life. You may even increase the amount of material you consume from the charities you care about.


    Make Things Easy for Charities 


    You may feel bad about contacting a charity to tell them you don’t want to hear from them. It can feel like delivering a rejection to an organization you know is doing good work. The truth is that you are doing charities a favor by removing yourself from mailing lists if you aren’t consuming the materials you receive. Most charities have limited staff and budgets dedicated to donor correspondence. You can help prevent charities from wasting precious time and resources by taking yourself off their correspondence lists. 


    Action Steps 


    • Decide who you want to hear from: A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t receive materials that won’t change your behavior. If you aren’t invested in the work of an organization and know you aren’t going to be donating to a charity, it’s time to cut off the correspondence. You may also choose to cut off notices for charities you already support if you know you will continue supporting them regardless of what they send. 


    • Decide how you want to be contacted: Do physical mailings or phone calls bring you joy? Do you prefer that charities reduce costs and physical waste by contacting you through email or text messages? Think about what works best for you and your lifestyle. 


    • Find out how to change your preferences: Email and text correspondence are easy to stop through directions that are listed in the outreach. Physical mailings and phone calls may also list methods for removing yourself from the contact list. Charity websites should list ways for you to change your preferences. Some sites allow you to log in to select your preferred correspondence methods.


    • Execute: Email correspondence will always include an ‘Unsubscribe’ option, usually in small text at the bottom of the email. Text correspondence can be stopped similarly, usually by texting ‘STOP’ to the number sending the updates. A secondary confirmation step may follow these initial steps, so make sure you see the process through and get confirmation of your removal from the list. If you found directions for removing yourself from contact lists on a mailing or website, follow those. If you can’t figure out how to change your preferences, a phone call to the charity should clear up any remaining problems. Remember, you can always change your preferences down the road. In the event that you end up missing certain mailings or regret keeping so many, just repeat these steps. 


    Taking yourself off of extraneous charity mailing lists is a quick project. With just a few minutes of work, you can reduce your pile of unwanted mail and help charities focus their correspondence where it will have the most returns. Why not start right now?