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Buried in Solicitations

   Feb 01, 2001

As a charity watchdog, we receive loads of complaints about the practices of nonprofit organizations. By far the most frequently heard donor complaint expresses this sentiment: “I am fed up with receiving a ridiculously large number of solicitations.” In memory of the 100 million trees cut down each year, about one per American family, to provide paper for mass mailings, we are dedicating a substantial portion of this Guide to tips, techniques and strategies for helping reduce the volume of solicitations that you receive each year.

The roots of the over-solicitation problem stem from the ever increasing competition from charities for donors’ dollars and by the passive nature of most donors.

Many of us have been to concerts or ball games where a chain reaction is set off by people who block the view of others by standing and causing the people behind them to stand, and so forth until there are thousands of people that are unnecessarily standing. Charities that over-solicit are like the event attendees–they feel compelled to act in a way that unnecessarily inconveniences others. Many charities feel that because their competitors are sending out large numbers of solicitations that they must also do so. Otherwise, the charity worries that it will go unnoticed in a donor's overstuffed mailbox.

Sometimes an outspoken individual at an event will tell the people standing in front of him to sit down and this will set off a reverse chain reaction that will enable everyone to enjoy the event from the comfort of his or her chair. Something similar can happen in the charitable giving arena if donors become more outspoken to charities that over-solicit them, and act in ways that motivate charities to increase efficiency by decreasing solicitation volume. The number one reason why Americans give is because they are asked. Therefore, charities do a lot of asking. If donors would contribute only to groups that did not ask them for support or asked only a few times, and avoided supporting groups that ask them for money too often, then charities would have strong economic motivation to reduce their volume of solicitations.

Click here for the Fundraising Reduction Notice.