My Way of Encouraging the Philanthropy of Friends
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."
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.