Here's how to get off direct-mail charity lists


POSTED: Thursday, June 18, 2009

Question: Can you find out how donation requests received in the mail from nonprofit organizations may be stopped? Unwanted labels, cards, note pads, etc., seem to be mailed out even more frequently, even if donations are not made. This appears to be a waste of money for these organizations, especially in these difficult economic times. I have e-mailed or called organizations that have instructions on stopping these solicitations, but most requests do not provide such direction. Would it help to just “;return to sender”; unopened mail?

Answer: A good source of information on how to handle unwanted solicitations from charities and other organizations is the Better Business Bureau's Web site: www.bbb.org/us/Charity-Direct-Mail/.

Names and addresses of potential donors, especially those identified as “;active donors,”; are rented and shared by nonprofit organizations.

The BBB's Wise Giving Alliance says there are about 11,000 donor lists available for direct-mail campaigns, and that a charity may mail half a million to 10 million or more letters for a national direct-mail campaign.

It offers these tips to get your name off some of those lists:

» Basically, focus on the charities you want to give to and discard the rest. Giving small contributions to many organizations just opens you up to being placed on more lists.

» If cutting down the number of contributions doesn't stem the tide, write directly to each organization asking that your name be deleted. For organizations you want to continue to support, ask that they remove your name from any list that is exchanged or rented.

The Wise Giving Alliance points out that most charities take advantage of nonprofit postal rates, which cover only one-way delivery. So sending a letter back saying “;delete my name from your mailing list”; on the envelope won't work, because the letter won't be sent back unless you add postage.

The Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service will delete names from the mailing lists of certain direct mailing firms and nonprofit organizations. Send requests to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.

Question: I came across a fence-like structure on Manoa Road that leaves a narrow path for pedestrians to pass. I witnessed someone with a cane pulling a little suitcase with wheels who had to step down onto the road to get around it. Aren't there laws or ordinances preventing permanent structures as these on the “;sidewalks”; and causing possible danger to pedestrians? (Two questions combined)

Answer: The work, subject of “;numerous concerns”; expressed to the city Building Division, has been monitored by a city building inspector.

“;The fence located at 2545 Manoa Road is within private property and in conformance to all building and zoning regulations,”; according to the city Building Division.

However, because of the “;abnormalities”; in the property line, which extends into the 10-foot right-of-way frontage associated with the majority of properties along Manoa Road, the city Department of Design and Construction is in a process of acquiring a portion of the private property that is blocked by the fence.

How long that will take is not known.