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How to donate to a cause without getting a ton of junk mail

The How-To Issue

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The good feeling of contributing to a cause you feel deeply about is often diminished by the load of junk mail that donation triggers. This happens for two reasons: One, direct mail is dollar-for-dollar the most cost-effective form of fundraising, so even if you ask, it’s unlikely an organization will remove you from their lists (lookin’ at you, NPR); they are going to follow up with you on the reg for the rest of your natural life. Two, selling your name and address to other similar groups is a valuable tertiary fundraising option for many organizations – use your credit card to give to Unicef and you can expect mail from every child-aid, humanitarian and emergency-relief nonprofit to clog your mailbox forever.

The solution is simple: Don’t donate online. Write a check, Sharpie out your address and phone number, and don’t include a return address on the envelope. Chances are pretty good they’ll cash it anyway. (NB: This won’t work with political campaign donations; donor information must be reported to the Federal Election Commission.)

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