Welcome to www.OnlineOrganizing.com -- A World Of Organizing Solutions Your Order Your Shopping Cart About Us Contact Us Site Map
Do You Need Help Getting Organized?Shop For Organizing And Business Development ProductsProfessional Organizing ServicesFind A Seminar, Workshop, Or Keynote SpeakerRead Our Two Free Monthly NewslettersFree Organizing Tips And AdviceResources For Professional OrganizersLearn How To Become A Professional OrganizerUseful Organizing Website LinksUseful Organizing Website Links


Search for:

Category:

You Are Here: Home - Blogs

NEW! - Keywords For This Page:   Charities / Donations - Clutter

Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
Mail Call Clutter: Charitable Giving Requests



If you traveled over Thanksgiving week, chances are good that you returned to a mailbox as fully and robustly overstuffed   as you felt last Thursday night.  Even if you didn't travel, I'm sure you noticed your mail carrier struggling and your daily mail piles exhibiting a growth spurt. 

Sure, you're seeing more ads and coupons, inveigling you to spend your precious little green bits of paper, and perhaps you've seen greetings from those early-bird friends who address holiday cards while they watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. But the biggest contribution to all that Mail Call ClutterRequests for charitable giving! 

It's easy to become overwhelmed by requests for charitable donations.  Certainly, you want to help further the causes about which you're concerned (children's issues, healthcare, the environment, animals, education, poverty...and the list goes on), but you may be troubled by multiple concerns regarding the charitable-giving process:

Limited Funds

No one individual (heck--not even Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey combined) has the funds to solve all of the world's troubles.  You may wonder if your contribution, even if it's all you can comfortably provide, has the power to make a difference.

Competing Interests
Weighing charitable-giving options against one another can paralyze you into doing nothing, letting the piles of requests (and their associated letters and "gifts" of themed return address labels) creep across the kitchen table and overtake your office desk. 

Just as you couldn't take as much as you wanted from the Thanksgiving buffet because the elastic in your waistband could stretch no farther, your finances are finite and the number of charitable giving options, even just the non-profits actively seeking your help, are practically infinite.  Responding to each request is no more suitable an answer than ignoring them all but letting the papers clutter your surroundings and the guilt of non-responsiveness clutter your heart and mind.

Frustration and Confusion with Repeated Requests
Months ago, when we talked about magazines, we noted that subscription departments start sending renewal requests almost immediately after you've just renewed.  They count on you forgetting you've re-upped or your significant other being unaware that you've already renewed. 

While non-profit organizations certainly have more lofty goals than scamming you out of your money sooner than you planned, they nonetheless present you with an onslaught of requests.  If you give to Charity A in December, not only will you receive repeated requests over the ensuing months for "Special Giving Opportunities" to Charity A, but in many cases, you will receive requests from similarly-themed Charities B, C, D to double-Z because many non-profits earn revenue by selling their "lists".

So what are the solutions to counter these frustrations?

Instead of choosing between the weight of guilt or the fear of exceeding your holiday (or monthly) budget, remember that there are better alternatives to feeling pressured into sitting down and writing a check to every cause that owns a bulk mail stamp--and none involve getting a sub-prime loan, robbing street-corner Santas or letting charitable clutter creep through your home.  Instead:

  • PLAN YOUR CHARITABLE GIVING BUDGET, not only for the holiday season, but for the upcoming year.
This may shock many of you who have been conditioned by the "This offer is available for a limited time only.  Operators are standing by!" mentality, but non-profits are always in need of money.  In fact, some receive the bulk of their donations in the Fourth Quarter and then suffer from lack of funds by the middle of the next year.

Just because you get dozens of requests for donations in December, your contributions will be no less valuable, life-saving or appreciated if sent three or six months down the line.  Create and label a manila folder to collect all of the requests you receive for holiday donations, and during a quiet moment on New Year's Day or soon after, sip some hot chocolate and review the requests.  (Make a note on your calendar and treat this as if it were a formal appointment with the director of each of the non-profit organizations.  You'll be more inclined to keep the appointment.)

Start by picking the charities that mean the most to you.  Ask yourself, "If I had only $50 (or $5, or $100...) to donate to charity, which non-profit would give me the greatest joy to help?  Which would make me feel the most satisfied in my choice?" 

There's no right or wrong answer.  While one person might donate to help political prisoners in an impoverished nation, another might choose to support an animal shelter two blocks away.  One of you heroes might choose to donate to medical research to find a cure for a disease that afflicts millions while another might give to one family whose home burned down in a fire. 

Remember:  you can't give to everyone, but you can feel good about to whom you choose to give.

As you sort through the pile of requests, determine two things:

1)  How much can you comfortably afford to give each month?  (Don't forget any charities to whom you've already obligated yourself with pledges, such as your house of worship's building fund, your alma mater or public television/radio.)

2)  How do you want to parcel your gifts out

That is, do you want to give to 12 charities, and assign one to each month of the year (or six charities, every other month, or one per quarter)?  If so, tuck the envelopes away in your tickler file or bill-paying center.  In this way, you can keep the spirit of giving alive throughout the year without being overwhelmed or over budget.

Or, would you prefer to give to one or two particular charities all year long?  In that case, look into setting up a recurring donation on the same day of the month through your online bill-paying system.  (You could schedule payments via credit card, but that would end up costing the non-profit extra money in merchant account fees.)

Just because you receive address labels or a small gift does not obligate you to make a donation to a charity, just as receiving holiday card from a distant acquaintance does not obligate you add the individual to your card list.  Don't let them turn advertising techniques into a free ticket on the Guilt Trip Express.

  • BUDGET CASH FOR AD HOC DONATIONS, such as when you encounter a Salvation Army bell-ringer or want to purchase a meal for a homeless person. 
If you've decided you can spend $100 (for example) on charitable donations, set aside $5 or $10 in singles in a separate section of your wallet so you can make unplanned donations without breaking your budget.

  • PARTNER WITH OTHERS to achieve a charitable giving goal.  For example, propose that you and your networking colleagues (or you and your Pilates class buddies), donate the monetary equivalent of one networking lunch or one post-class Jumpy Java to one specific charitable goal. 
Or, if you wish to keep the spirit going all year, create a charitable giving club the same way you'd start an investment club.  Instead of collecting articles about stocks and mutual funds, collect the brochures and request letters from non-profits and bring them to your group meetings.  (You'll be less inclined to toss a charitable request on top of your microwave if you know a group member feels passionately about that same cause.)
  • INVEST TIME IN EDUCATING YOURSELF ABOUT CHARITIES
Not all non-profits are created alike.  Learn about the charities to which you are considering giving financial support.  Find out what percentage of donations will be used for funding programs, research, etc., and what percentage goes towards advertising, paying staff, etc.  To get you started, investigate potential recipient charities via:
GuideStar.org's basic level provides free access to information that lets you verify a charity's legitimacy, learn whether your prospective contribution will be tax deductible, view a non-profit's IRS Form 990, or find out more about a their programs, mission statement and financial activities.  Their database is huge, with well over one million non-profits included.

  The Better Business Bureau's web site for charities offers Wise Giving Reports, explains charity accountability standards and provides background information on all the non-profits in their accredited charity directory.

The American Institute of Philanthropy operates CharityWatch.org.  Review their A-Z (well, A-Y, from the AARP Foundation to the Youth Development Fund) listings of hundreds of charities to learn more about their operations.
And, thanks to a reminder from reader Susan, I am editing this post to include CharityNavigator.org, which evaluates the financial health of thousands of America's largest charities.  Browse by charity name or category, and check out their blog, articles and charity ratings.

  • GIVE (actual) GIFTS OF CHARITY
There are some people who have everything, need nothing, and for whom peace, tranquility and kindness are precious gifts.  (Stop laughing!)  Most of us like unwrapping something shiny, but there are special opportunities at the holidays to provide gifts that, while not in tangible form for the giftee, provide profound intangible meaning for them while providing something tangible to the third-party recipients (the hungry, the impoverished, the innocent, the needy) of your largess.

In case you're wondering, some of Paper Doll's favorite charities are listed right here on my blog, in my Doing Well By Doing Good blogroll on the right side of the page.  (For those of you reading via an RSS subscription page, click here to see a small subset of the non-profits that float Paper Doll's boat.)  And just this past weekend, my esteemed colleague, Jeri Dansky, had a great blog post about giving charitable gifts.

In a future post, we'll talk about tracking your charitable giving paperwork for tax time.  For right now, just be sure to make a notation on the request letter to show how much you sent, on what date, using what method (check, credit card, etc.) File the letter in the tax prep section of your family files until you receive an official confirmation of your donation.

In the meantime, feel good.  You did a good deed for someone else, and you halted the charitable clutter creep.

posted on: 12/2/2008 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper


Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles: < Previous Post - Next Post >
Blog Central: < Previous Post - Next Post >



Discuss This Post


by Susan on 12/2/2008 4:51:33 PM:

Thanks for discussing this topic. There's another website I read before any charitable contribution: CharityNavigator.org

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 12/2/2008 4:57:56 PM:

Thanks for the reminder, Susan. I had CharityNavigator.org on my list, but somehow it never made it into the post. I've edited the post to include your suggestion. Thanks!

by Jeri Dansky on 12/3/2008 3:02:34 AM:

Thanks for the kind words, Julie. This is a great post; it reminds me of Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously, talking about all the misery in the world, and asking, "What then must we do?" His approach is that "you deal with whatever misery is in front of you - and the little bit of good that you do adds its light to the sum of light."

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 7/23/2009 7:30:35 PM:

I'm not quite sure what you're asking, Lea, but I'd say that any system that works will keep working, provided the person using the system is committed to it. As with exercising, quitting smoking, learning a language or dropping a bad habit, staying organized once you initially get organized requires a commitment to the systems you've decided to use, even if that means tweaking them a bit. Certainly planning your charitable giving, budgeting for what you've planned, and staying educated about the process will work for anyone, long term, as long as he or she wants to be organized and eliminate the overwhelm of too many charitable requests.

by Paper Doll (Julie) on 12/1/2010 5:57:33 PM:

I was tempted to delete the email from "shoe sale" as spam, but given that this was a post about charitable giving, I'm going to use this as an opportunity to direct any later readers to a charity that has to do with shoes, Soles for Souls. My colleague, Scott Roewer, is collecting shoes to take with him to distribute to the people of Haiti, and no matter where you are, you can contact www.soles4souls.org (sorry, I can't make it linkable from the comment section) to see how you can help. See? Even spam can bring about good things!

by Samsung Soul on 12/25/2010 6:51:53 PM:

Good entry. I appreciate you for posting it. Keep up the fine blogging.

by Rock and roll hall of fame on 12/27/2010 2:12:13 AM:

Excellent & thoughtful post.


Add a comment about this post:
Name:
Comment:
(Note: To reduce blogspam, HTML tags are not permitted in blog comments and will be removed)
Please Enter The Following Code:
In order to cut down on SPAM, we ask that you enter the code exactly as shown in image below. If you can't read the code, simply select "Load New Code" and a different graphic will appear. Cookies must be enabled on your web browser.
Code Image - Please contact webmaster if you have problems seeing this image code Load New Code
Powered by Web Wiz CAPTCHA version 2.01
Copyright ©2005-2006 Web Wiz

 



Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles


by Julie Bestry

View This Blog

   Subscribe To This Blog

About Julie:

Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.

For information on how Julie can turn your chaos into serenity and learn how you can Tickle Yourself Organized visit Best Results Organizing.

Sign up for Julie's newsletter, Best Results For Busy People: Organizing Your Modern World -- and get a BONUS GIFT, Organize Your Way With A Pretend Career Day!

Follow Me on Pinterest

personalblogs.org
personalblogs.org

I
OFFICE
SUPPLIES

Julie's Website:

www.juliebestry.com


Web Wonderland

  • MetaFilter
  • Einstein's Theory of Relativity (Using Tiny Words)
  • Net Manners
  • Amazon
  • Pearls Before Swine
    Is it wrong to root for the zebras?
  • Snopes
  • Out of the Box
    Commentary on the post-digital device market by famed writer and Mac expert Ross Scott Rubin

Doing Well By Doing Good

  • Curing Malnutrition--Plumpy'Nut
  • Heifer International
  • Challah For Hunger
  • Kiva
  • Feeding America
  • The Pencil Project
  • Free Rice
  • Camel Book Drive
  • Habitat For Humanity

Organizing Blogs

  • Your life. Organized.
  • Organizing LA Blog
  • Unclutterer
  • Jeri's Organizing & Decluttering News
  • Neat & Simple Living
  • 43 Folders
  • The Clutter Diet Blog
  • The Home Office Organizer

Running An Organized, Profitable Business

  • Internet Marketing For Solopreneurs
    Everything I learned about marketing online, I learned from Biana Babinksy at Avocado Consulting at her amazing MarketingSalad.com
  • Website Survival Guide
    My pal Krista Garren helps you discover how to create and organize a profit-generating website without the hassles of doing it all yourself. As Krista says, just "plug in and profit!"
  • Tickle Yourself Organized

Affiliate Disclosure Policy

  • Links to books
    ...and other products mentioned in this blog may be affiliate links, for which I will get a small remuneration if you choose to purchase them. If you would prefer that I do not receive an affiliate payment, I encourage you to Google the title of the book or name of the product.

Honors

  • Professional Organizers Blog Carnival Star Blogger
    Star Blogger Status


Add this page to your Bookmarks!

E-mail this page to a friend!







www.OnlineOrganizing.com is a service mark of Bradford, LLC.
Content on this site is © Bradford, LLC, All rights reserved.

If you notice any problems with this site, please contact our webmaster.
And if you don't see what you need you are welcome to "ask the organizer" any question!

To see what people are saying about www.OnlineOrganizing.com, check out our visitor comments.

Click here to view our privacy policy.

Calendar Of Organizing Holidays And Events Blog Central Sign Up For Our Free Online Newsletters Join The Conversation At Our Organizing Discussion Board Advertise Your Company On Our Website Be An Affiliate Of www.OnlineOrganizing.com
Check Us Out On FaceBook