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How Do You Handle Solicitations?

Last month The Happy Housewife tried to help us organize our homes, and one day recently she wrote about paper clutter.

I hate paper clutter.

And the biggest culprit in our house is charities. We get so many charitable appeals it's ridiculous.

I'm quite a pushover, and a few years ago I would give $20 here and $20 there, and feel better about myself. But I realized eventually that the mail just multiplied. I guess we got on multiple charity mailing lists, and soon we were getting solicitations from everyone.

So last year my husband and I sat down and whittled our charities down to just a handfull, who get a lot of money each, rather than a bunch who each get less. I figured that once we stopped giving to so many, they'd stop mailing.

And in most cases it's true, but back in 1993 I gave $20 to MADD, and they only stopped mailing me a year ago. Don't ever give to MADD.

Some charities really pull at your heartstrings by sending you beautiful cards, and then asking you to donate money to "pay" for the cards. I used to give in to that, but now I don't. I just keep the cards. Is that bad? I just can't stand people mailing me stuff when I didn't ask for it.

Or what about the people that send you address labels? Again, I'd use the labels, but I don't send them any money anymore. I suppose it must work, or they'd stop doing it, but I have to admit I resent it.

Charity phone calls drive me nuts, too. I just refuse to give on the phone anymore. I don't want to encourage marketing calls, so I never respond, even if it's something I would normally give to. I always figure they can just email me, and then I can answer at my leisure, rather than interrupting my dinner.

The funniest comeback I ever heard to a telemarketer was by a comedian named Tom Mabe, who makes a living doing this. Here's how he pranked one poor guy. Warning: some rather rude language, but if you can get past that, and ignore the silly ending, it's quite funny. I would never have the guts to do this, and I think it's a little cruel to the poor schlep who's just got a lousy job, but it fulfills all those fantasies of what you just WISH you could say to get people off of your back:

But I find that I spend several minutes everyday opening and recycling mail, without ever responding to it. It is such a pain.

So what do you do? How do you get people to stop sending you solicitations? How do you deal with all your paper clutter? I'd love to know!


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At 7:25 AM , Blogger Sandy said…

Hi Sheila, like you, open, read, into the trash. Since I got my recycle drawer, for some reason I'm more quick to read thru the mail and distribute it.

Great post. Came over from Twitter. Up early today because I left my tomato plants outside and I was worried about them. LOL.



At 6:58 PM , Blogger Laura said…

I just got the loveliest notecards from the Williamsburg Foundation. I'm going to use them to send notes to my grandma, and not feel the slightest inkling of guilt about not sending a nickel. They factor all that stuff into their cost-benefit analysis and evidently it works out in their favor or they wouldn't do it. So I use all those things -- address labels, stationery, notecards -- with a clear conscience! :)


At 7:03 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…

Oh this is uncanny... I was just thinking about this.

I go right from the mailbox to the recycling and the shredder. I try not to let it in the house!

And - I don't do this to legitimate charities - but sometimes, for "fun", I'll take the prepaid return envelopes that come with junk mail and stuff them full of other junk, and send them back. I figure, when it starts costing them more than it's worth to send the junk, they'll eventually quit.

And I never, never, never give money over the phone. Never ever. Or to the so-called national police/fire charities. Who knows where that money is going? Not to your local fire department.

I would rather give to people/groups I know. We support our local mission, and a pro-life home for unwed moms in our community. I know what they're doing.


At 10:38 PM , Blogger Kris said…

Haha! I do the same thing with the prepaid envelopes, but only the credit card solicitations -- not the charity ones.
The charities I get the most mail from are the ones we give ( a LOT) to. And I do get annoyed, because we have already decided how much we support them each year, and all those extra mailings are, as I see it, a waste of my donations.
I used to do the $20 here and there too, but I quit that. Unless it's being asked for by someone I know (like a local fundraiser or something).
As for the free cards/ labels etc, I use those too.
No guilt.
I will sometimes try to be polite to the phone people (they do have a crummy job!) but if I'm busy I'll just hang up on them.

I can be ruthless with junk mail, my paper clutter issue is precious kid art! It's taking over my house!! lol. Can't keep it all, but it's awfully hard to part with!


At 10:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I've also done the "send the junk mail prepaid envelope back". For phone solicitations I've occasionally used my captive audience to share the gospel. If they're on the line anyway you can ask questions about spiritual things of your choice. After all what I have to "sell" is free.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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