18 July 2013

Ten Cents for My Thoughts

You remember how I got all on the NRDC's case about how many solicitations they were sending me, and how many live first class stamps were stuck on the enclosed return envelopes?

They got their act together and I haven't gotten any mail from them in months. Huzzah!

I promised myself (and my husband) that I'd stop fixating on the mail, and I have, pretty much. In fact, I've gotten pretty good at dumping most of the mail in the recycling bin in the garage - before it even makes it into the kitchen.

Until today. Today, I got an envelope from the March of Dimes.

If you'll look closely, there's a dime in there. TEN CENTS.

And because there's a dime in there, I couldn't just toss it in the recycling, because we don't do mixed recycling in these parts. No, paper and cardboard go in one bin, and plastic/glass/metal goes in another bin. And last I checked, dimes were metal.

Oy. So on top of printing, and mail prep, and postage (and writing and design), the March of Dimes had to go out and obtain a metric ton of dimes to stick in all of their Annual Fund appeal letters. How can that be cost effective? I just don't get it.

Because I had to extract the dime, since it couldn't go in the recycling, I opened the envelope and in big type under the dime it said:

I know I've taken a risk in sending you this dime...There's a chance you might not return it to me along with a few dollars of your own.

Oh indeed. Of course, Dr. Jennifer L. Howse* thought the risk was that she wouldn't get the dime back. She probably never dreamed that I'd post a picture of her dime on the internet before I stuck that dime in my wallet and tossed the rest of the now metal-free package into the recycling bin.

What irritates me the most about this is that I know why I got this piece of mail. I've given money to the March of Dimes in each of the past few years because friends have marched in their March For Babies walk-a-thons. And I'm happy to have supported the organization, because they do do good work supporting "research aimed at preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality". But when you give on-line to something like a walk-a-thon, there's no way to opt out of further solicitation by dime-encrusted snail mail.

And if people actually return the dime, along with a check for $10, do they get a contribution receipt for $10.10? And who's keeping track of all the dimes - the many going out in the mail, the some that might be returned to the mothership? If some dimes do get back to the mothership, do they get redeposited at the bank? If so, how does the bank feel about all the sticky dimes that the cash accounts clerk has to deposit? Because really, dimes? Dimes aren't worth that kind of administrative nightmare.

One of the scraps of paper that fell out of the envelope was a little flyer with "Five Tips For A Healthier Baby" on one side and "A Proud Record of Fiscal Responsibility". March of Dimes claims that they "spend your gifts wisely" - but, per their own materials, only 75.8% of their budget goes to program. The rest goes to management and fundraising, or, to put it another way, two and a half cents of every dime goes back to buying more dimes. It's starting to sound like a Ponzi scheme**.

But, if you check out the March of Dimes on Charity Navigator, you'll find that that only 65.9% of their budget goes to program.

It could be that the March of Dimes insert*** was relying on newer information than the 2011 numbers that Charity Navigator is, as of this moment anyway. No matter, it seems to me that they're spending an awful lot on fundraising, one dime at a time.

So, listen up, March of Dimes.

1) Stop mailing dimes to people. It's just annoying.
2) Lots of people support your marches and walk-a-thons. Don't add them all to your snail mail list. It's a waste of paper, postage, time and dimes.


* Jennifer's the President. In 2011, according to the tax return available on Guidestar, she earned more than $550,000. That's a lot of dimes.

** I freely admit that was kind of harsh. I've been reading a novel in which one of the main characters lost all of her money to Mr. Madoff, so naturally Ponzi schemes are on my mind.

*** It's dated 4/13 in micro type, so maybe it's using the 2012 financial statements?


Swistle said...

I got that same mailing and was very annoyed. I dislike feeling like someone thinks they're cleverly manipulating me and that I won't notice them doing it. I TOO know that giving people something is supposed to make them feel uncomfortably obligated! But the way it makes ME feel is like digging in my heels and refusing to cave to the manipulation.

edj3 said...

Yeah when I get return address labels in a solicitation, I keep the labels and toss the rest. I have my donations already mapped out, thanks.

Kizz said...

Keep posting this shit, it's insane and it needs to stop!

S said...

I got the same piece of mail. And I hate, hate, hate that a dime was enclosed.

Unicef once sent us a t-shirt (a t-shirt!) to encourage us to donate.

meno said...

Very well done, very well indeed. This is the kind of stuff that needs to be said.

Lady M said...

I hate getting mailers from March of Dimes. Labels that I have to shred, because they make assumptions about my name, dimes that I have to peel off, and then a horrible rate of return if I actually chose to give them money, which I don't.

A couple of years ago, I was a sucker and gave to some kind of police-related charity and I'm still on a list where I get calls from professional fundraisers who usually refuse to tell me what their Charity Navigator rating is (at which point I hang up) except one guy who told me "at least 12% will go to the police." Really, he said that. Ick! Have found more worthy charities since then!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That's definitely annoying,

Anonymous said...

As someone whose child has benefited from this charity it is an amazing cause to give to. The only charity that my family gives to now. People don't understand that a lot of their money goes to research and development.

Anonymous said...

And if you look further at the stats, only 66% goes to programs but only 10% goes to administration. That's only 10% going towards payroll.