My Way of Encouraging the Philanthropy of Friends

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • I feel the need to share my most recent gripe. I really am tired of the phone calls from organizations that want me to send out letters on their behalf to my neighbors asking them to donate to a specific charity. It seems like once every week or so, I get the call, "Ms. Martin, I want to thank you for your previous support to (insert any one of a number of charities here). I'm not calling you to ask for any money, but instead to ask you to mail out letters to your neighbors."


    I made the mistake of agreeing to do this once before. I mailed the donations to my neighbors and then had to follow-up when they didn't reply. I felt like I was pestering them since I figured that they had their own charities that they supported. By not responding, they were telling me "no, thank you."

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    Based on that experience, I've begun to say no when those calls come. Initially, it was a pretty nice "no." One time I told the woman on the phone who was calling on behalf of a cancer organization that I was focusing my philanthropic efforts toward Alzheimer's. I hung up, and less than five minutes later I had the same call asking me if I'd handle the letter-mailing on behalf of an Alzheimer's group. I said no. Recently as those calls come more often, I find myself getting increasingly gruff, finally asking the latest caller to take me off their list.


    Instead, I have started a new philanthropic effort this year. For close friends, I send a birthday card with a "coupon" that they can redeem enclosed. That coupon tells them I'll make a donation in their honor to a charity of their choice. I've had some that have picked Alzheimer's groups, but others have selected the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit arts group, or their church. And instead of haranguing my friends, I'm enjoying the opportunity to give them a chance to support the charity they want.

Published On: August 20, 2008