Thursday, August 30, 2007

Angel in my pocket

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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mollie,
Know what you are talking about. I have a drawerful of little medals, coins, even a stuffed ripoff of a beanie baby bear with a necklace with a cross on it. Of course I feel that I can not throw them away because it would be a sacrilege to toss them in the garbage. So in my junk drawer they sit until I figure out what to do with them and not feel guilty. They come from every monastery known to man-kind. You give to one and then they all come out of the woodwork. I did try to get rid of them for free, at garage sale we
had, but there were no takers.
By the way, your Unc and I enjoy reading your postings. I start my day with seeing what you have on your mind. See you soon for the upcoming NYC wedding!

Mollie said...

Your yard sale customers probably had their own collections at home! So far I'm only on a handful of mailing lists -- but the fiance is on lots more, so next year I'll get to sort through all the Mr. & Mrs. mail. We're going to need a big junk drawer.

Thanks for reading -- see you soon!

Anonymous said...

My own little cross to bear: the Humane Society of America. I made the mistake of contributing to them once non-anonymously, and ever since I have received countless address labels, notepads, wrapping paper, calendars, stickers, etc, all telling me how much the starving/abused/abandoned animals of the world depend on my support. The most annoying thing is they also sold/shared my information with every other animal relief organization in existence, so they all send me things too. At this point, I'm pretty sure they've spent more on sending me things than they got from my donation, so I may have actually done negative net good for animals.

Among the non-animal-related organizations who have started sending me things in the last year is the paralyzed veterans of america. They have started including a nickel every time they send me something, so I know it costs them AT LEAST a nickel to fill my mailbox with crap. Then they request that I send the nickel back with my donation. So far, that hasn't happened.

The most unfortunate thing about this whole thing is that I would really LIKE to help animals, but I harbor such severe resentment toward the Human Society that I have vowed never to donate to them again.


Mollie said...

Steph - Yes! that is the truly awful part (at least for those of us who can't afford to give tens of thousands in one check), getting all those solicitations and crap and knowing that at some point, they've spent more on you than you did on them. I have that issue with the local NPR station.

The sending an actual, legal-tender coin tactic is pretty snakey... I wonder, is it worse than sending an angel "keepsake" coin? Either way they're wasting money on you that could go to the people their organization supposedly helps. But at least you can use the nickel.

Maltese Cross said...

Just started receiving these: 2 in the past month. Thankfully, they came with a "no postage necessary" business-reply mail envelope. So...I put the coin in the envelope with the other pieces of paper and sent them back. CRS, according to the BBB Charity Review, is a very efficient organization. However, even though I am married to a Catholic, I have no inclination to donate to them.

Anonymous said...

send them to me!!!!! my daughter LOVES the little angel coin, and sadly lost hers. Weve been searching high and low for a replacement ever since!!! email me and i will send you my address. THank you!

-Stella <3

Mollie said...

Hi Stella - I 'm sorry, I think I threw them away (or lost track of them somehow), and I'm not on the mailing list anymore. The best way to replace it might just be to make a small donation to CRS!