Several years ago, we made the decision to donate to a particular local charity. We sent that charity a small one-time donation because we felt like the cause they were working for was a good one.
Four years later, we are still getting mailings from that charity. We have long ago passed the point where we think the mailings have cost more than the value of our original donation to that charity.
These envelopes fill up our mailbox and contribute to filling up our waste bins. Not only that, they cost the charity that’s sending those envelopes. That means less money is being spent on the charitable cause.
The solution, of course, is to unsubscribe.
Most of the time, unsubscribing from a charity mailing is pretty easy. The mailings offer a phone number that you can call to unsubscribe or offer some sort of method of replying by mail. Most charities are pretty careful about their budget, so they’ll unsubscribe you if you feel as though you’re unlikely to donate again for whatever reason.
Sometimes, though, it doesn’t work. I’ve asked the above charity to unsubscribe me several times, and at this point, I don’t even ask. I just toss the envelopes.
One obvious question that people might ask is how unsubscribing saves money. It doesn’t, at least not directly. It does reduce the volume of waste paper that your household creates, which might influence your waste management bill. It also reduces the amount of clutter you have, meaning there’s one less regular envelope for you to deal with.
Perhaps more than anything, it doesn’t leave you with an envelope for charitable giving in your hand, making you emotionally drawn to donate after you’ve made the carefully considered and rational decision to no longer donate to this charity.
For me, though, the big reason why I would want such a change is that the charity mailings are costing that charity money, and if I’m not going to donate, I’d at least want that charity to use their funds elsewhere where the money might be spent more effectively.
Why would a person no longer wish to donate to a charity that they once supported? There are thousands of reasons. A person’s financial position might change. Their beliefs might change. The behavior of the charity might change. Additional aspects of the charity might be made clear to the person who is donating. All of these are completely valid reasons for changing one’s charitable giving – and there are many more.
Stopping an unwanted charity mailing saves you time in dealing with clutter, saves space in your recycling bin (and possibly some money, too), and can also save the charity money. That’s well worth a minute to place a phone call.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.