I have just counted up that 47 charities send me their appeals, not counting those that I mark "Return to Sender" immediately, people coming to the door and people pretending to say thank you on the phone.
The increasing amount of paper bumf sent with these appeals is making an increasing contribution to global emissions, waste of trees and waste of people’s time. It is getting worse.
Last week one charity used an Express Mail envelope, several charities enclosed colour magazines, two had free gifts, one sent still more address labels, and none had only one sheet of paper.
Several have sent me six appeals in one year, although I always write on a donation slip ‘Only one appeal annually please and No Bumf paper’.
After one warning, I now cut charities off my donation lists, if they make more than one appeal in the year, and I sometimes return their self-addressed envelopes telling them why they have been cut off.
This waste is driven by competition for donations and by the findings made by charities that many people will be swayed to give by these expensive frills – including key-rings and Sleep notices for doors.
How about one annual Charity Supplement in newspapers and magazines, for people to keep and send off donations slips as they chose and when they could. Other organizations and libraries could keep copies for referral on their display shelving. Calendars could list a few charities for each month. However, that strategy would not net all possible donors.
This sometimes works - a really good idea could be for charities to mark on their lists all those donor who ask for only one double-sided sheet per year, which gives basic information and news, donation form and web sites, plus a return envelope. Such waste-hating donors could have an exclamation mark next to their name, for computer sorting to pick up. Val Yule ! means ‘No Bumf, No magazines or gifts, and Not more than one appeal a year’. Charities might find that half their donors had exclamation marks after their name.
Think of the savings! If we all insisted that the ‘Less Bumf sent to us – the bigger our donation”. Some charities could cut their staff in half. Then our donations could go further to their intended charitable destination, to whatever we meant it to go to.
One form of paper waste that wastes even more is pictures of large families seeking our charity, or mothers of eight who are given ways to fish, or small babies smiling that will arouse our generosity without making us think that they will grow to be adult men and women. Why do we have Save the Children? I would rather we had Save the Adults.
One useful research would list all the charities that converge on one place.
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