Dear Abby: I'm writing in response to "Feeling Guilty in North Carolina" (March 18), who feels guilty using address labels, calendars and notepads from organizations soliciting donations. Last year, for about six months, I collected all the requests for donations I received. Abby, the total was 532 requests from 119 organizations! Yes, I'm overwhelmed, and I no longer feel guilty about tossing them. I sent all of them letters requesting they delete my name from their lists. One hundred eighteen ignored my request. One asked how often I want information from them.
I give the notepads and other enclosures to Goodwill and shred the labels. Ironically, I receive more labels now than ever before, even though I pay most bills online and e-mail rather than write. I donate less than I ever have in the past because I feel so hounded, so in my case, it has worked against them.
-- Karen H. in Fort Collins, Colo.
Dear Karen: Thanks for the input. Letters from readers complaining about charitable donation requests with labels arrive in my office on a daily basis, so you can imagine the mail I have received in response to the one I printed from "Feeling Guilty." Read on:
Dear Abby: I, too, receive many "gifts" from organizations soliciting for donations. My view is, if they're using my donation to send gifts, then they really don't need my money. They should be using donations to help whomever or whatever it is they're soliciting for. I don't feel guilty in the least for using the labels, gifts, etc. I give to organizations that do not send out freebies; that's how I direct my charitable donations.
-- Sabrina W., Southgate, Mich.
Dear Abby: I'm a professional fundraiser and I, too, receive the pads and address labels. I do not give to every organization that sends them, but I do use what they send. No one should feel guilty for doing so. Nonprofits buy and rent lists from companies, and they don't expect everyone to respond. Nonprofits aren't trying to make anyone feel guilty or trick them; they just want to do the work of the causes you love to support.
-- Suzanne L., Staten Island, N.Y.
Dear Abby: Many solicitation letters have a small box at the bottom asking you to indicate if you would like to be taken off their mailing list. It's worth the 44 cents to return it.
Some areas recycle junk mail. After removing the address labels, the rest can be put in the recycling bin with newspapers. Note pads, greeting cards and calendar gifts could be donated to a military personnel drive, thrift store, nursing home or community center.
-- Mary F., Stuart, Fla.
Dear Abby: We contacted the post office and were instructed not to open the envelope, to write "Refused -- Return to Sender" on the front and put it back in the mailbox. The post office can then decide what to do with it.
-- Sandra M., Mukwonago, Wis.