Service of Sloppy Fundraising

October 9th, 2023

Categories: Charity, Fundraising, Sloppy

“Sloppy fundraising.”

Those were the words of a friend, who once worked for a charity, when I told her about the huge package of swag that arrived in my mailbox containing socks, a stack of Christmas cards, pens, address labels and other stickers as well as a calendar. I’d never given $1 to this charity which has a good reputation and has been in business for ages. She added, “if they are going to be so careless with their marketing dollars, they aren’t an appropriate place to support.”

What were they thinking?

Here’s a guess why this largesse happened. Previously I’ve only attracted a very occasional calendar and more often notecards, a little notepad and/or address labels. Earlier this year I’d given much more than I normally do to a charity. It was a one-time thing for a specific reason. If this charity sold my name to other charities as someone with deep pockets, shame on them.

Here are other examples of careless fundraising marketing. My friend mentioned that her dad had asked a prominent charity to stop sending mail and requests for money to her deceased mom. They didn’t heed his request, so he stopped sending checks.

My mom had a similar thing happen. Dad had donated to a nonprofit religiously, and she promised that she would continue to do so in his name but, she asked several times–both on the phone and in writing–would they please exchange her name for his. They never did.

A friend launched a fund in his deceased wife’s name. He hit the ceiling when the phone would ring at dinnertime with the caller treating him as she would any cold call prospect. He was irritated that names of substantial donors such as he had been for years weren’t scrubbed from all the organization’s other fundraising lists.

I just received a request to attend an annual fund reception to honor the organization’s donors. It was also addressed to my husband who has been gone four years. The place should have a record of this. Lazy marketing.

Have you noticed sloppy fundraising outreach? Can you share fundraising efforts you admire?

7 Responses to “Service of Sloppy Fundraising”

  1. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Marketing efforts don’t work on me. I give to causes or organizations that I have a personal/professional connection to or have helped me/my loved ones. But all should note you can request to be removed from donor solicitation/marketing lists by contacting the organization. Sometimes best done in writing/email.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I need to get cracking. Might take a full day to write them all. It would be faster if I used the self-addressed envelopes for my notes although I don’t know if it would be as effective as to send to headquarters.

  3. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Best to send to headquarters and perhaps phone first to learn who to direct your request to. Good luck!

  4. Lucrezia Said:

    If one can afford a $25 gift to a given charity, one may surely afford the postage stamp, and doesn’t need to drown in tons of paper pads, stationary, blankets and whatnot. All these so called “free gifts” only serve to bestow less help to those in need. I’m puzzled rather than annoyed. I’m also seeking more details from Charity Navigator, an entity which rates the efficacy of charities. Better Business Bureau is also a help.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It will be a project to get the charities to stop wasting their $ on me. I need the time and discipline to try by following Linda’s suggestion above..

  6. Deb Wright Said:

    This is one of my hot topics! Being prone to appeals, I have learned my lesson. I have given to two veteran organizations: Wounded Warriors and Paralyzed Veterans. Well, now I am being sent “gifts” from Veterans of Foreign Wars, gifts from Easter Seals, gifts from The Boys Ranch, etc. I have written to Easter Seals and Paralyzed Veterans to accept this donation, but do not mail me any requests or gifts.Ignored, of course. Same with Foundation requests; I realized I was not renewing my membership to National Wildlife by responding to Foundation appeals. So I am wiser now. But the money they spend on fleece blankets, return address stickers, calendars. etc, would be better spent on the cause itself.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    That’s what kills me: The wasted money on swag few want or use and that a modest donation wouldn’t cover.

    I support my local PBS station. The other night there was a fundraising show with a “gift” of a DVD to donors at a certain level. Number one, I and fewer and fewer of us own devices that play DVDs and the DVD had material available on Youtube. Number two, I sent in my check after far too many reminders sent far too early and was not offered a “gift” for doing so. Note: I don’t need or want a gift. But I think that the organization should review its fundraising practices and its enticements to attract new members.

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