It took me a whole month to find another charity to pick on, but I'm back today for another installment of Annoying Surprises in Mollie's Mailbox. Although you couldn't really call the "emergency appeal" I received from Catholic Relief Services a "surprise," since I've been receiving them at regular intervals for a couple years now. I try not to respond to mail solicitations (I give in person or online where possible), because they tend to beget more mail solicitations. So this stuff goes straight to the shredder. But the CRS mailings are especially irritating, because they come with this "Special Gift Inside":Plenty of not-for-profits send "gifts" in the hopes of guilting the recipient into making a contribution. I have a drawer full of notepads and address labels to prove it. But while those other organizations like to send something marginally useful, CRS differentiates itself by sending these little gold coins. Tiny golden albatrosses, good for nothing but breaking your shredder if you don't know they're hiding inside the envelope. I do know, because this one, which arrived yesterday, is at least the eighth or ninth such "gift" I have received from CRS. I would have quite a collection by now, if I took them up on their invitation to "Keep this guardian angel as a reminder of the children you help."
How much does it cost CRS, do you think, to produce and send these tacky little angel coins? Maybe not a lot. Maybe just a little. But you know who would probably like to have that money, even more than I would like to have a collection of shiny angel coins? The world's poor. Tsunami victims. The sad little child staring up at me from this appeal. My friends at CRS, you do wonderful work, I am sure. But I would like you to keep this guardian angel -- or rather, the money you spend sending it to me every few months -- and use it to help some children.
Perhaps you're thinking, if I really feel strongly about this waste of money (and paper), I should request to be removed from their mailing list. And that's the kicker: I already have. After I received the first three or four "gifts" from CRS, I called them up and asked to be removed. The nice man I spoke to assured me he had done so. A week later, I got another little angel. Well, I thought, this was probably in the works before I called. I'm sure this is the last one. But no, I've been receiving them at regular intervals ever since. My calling did no good at all. So I'm doing the next logical thing, of course; I'm blogging about it. (At least I'm not as mad as this guy.) I suppose the next logical thing would be to actually save a bunch of these stupid coins, and then send them all back together in the postage-paid envelope with a note that says, "I believe these belong to you." But that would require a lot more organization than I am prepared to devote to this, and it wouldn't give me much satisfaction to waste even more of their money -- the whole point is, I want them to stop wasting it on me! So, since the situation is apparently hopeless (at least till I move), I'm taking suggestions. What should I do with my collection of slightly-bigger-than-a-quarter angel coins? Should I keep them as a reminder of the children I stubbornly refuse to help? Use them to weight the corners of a duvet? Drill holes through them and make a tambourine?
I'm also curious: what not-for-profits harass you and/or send you junk? Have you ever removed yourself from a mailing list without resorting to threats? Please share.