Obviously with the current state of the economy, times are tight for a lot of folks, not the least being non-profit organizations. It's pretty standard MO for people to tighten up their belts when things are uncertain money-wise; non-profits typically suffer vastly from this unfortunate, but understandable, necessity.
I'm on the Board for the Durham Symphony. Yeah, there has been a distinct shriveling up of funds; both from businesses and individual donors. Many a Board meeting has been spent discussing ways to generate much needed moolah. We have started to go down the path of providing some extras for people who buy season tickets or contribute at X level or above. Of course, this is a sticky wicket from a tax perspective.
Anyway, as the symphony provides a tangible to people who buy tickets/donate (meaning, there is a service in return; performed music), we might be better off than those who rely on donations to stay afloat and yet there is no real tangible return for the donors (no tit for tat, anyway).
I'm thinking now about the Humane Society. I've always donated money to the HSUS, as well as other respectable organizations that strive to help animals. They are not the only organizations we support (we try to donate to causes our friends support/participate in (walks for breast cancer, bike rides for Aids, runs for leukemia, etc.)), but, I have to say, animal-related ones are up there on our list.
Organizations such as the Humane Society have long been known for the tactic of providing something to you (address labels, a few holiday greeting cards with your name printed on them) in the hopes that you'll buckle and send in a few bucks in return. Most people who give to any charitable organization know that, when you move, there is really no sense in actually purchasing new return address labels as the charities you support will track you down and send you a life time supply (even the charities you don't support and have never even heard of will do this; just check out one of the drawers in our pie safe where we keep the vast quantities of address labels we've received!)
I've noticed, though, that over the past few years, the Humane Society seems to have gone a bit wacky with the come on gifties, to the point where, I wonder WHY they are spending so much money on this stuff (which is basically junk) and NOT using said funds for the animals? Maybe the junk is donated by other partner organizations, but, really, it's starting to get a tad irritating to keep getting gifts in the mail from them with a plea to send more money.
Here are some of the items I've received:
-Return Address Labels (these are useful, however, sometimes they come under my old name so they are basically worthless)
-Holiday Gift Wrap Sets
-Christmas Tree Ornaments (so, what do our non Christmas celebrating friends do with all the holiday stuff, anyway?)
-Personalized Magnetic Notepads (handy for shopping lists, I must say)
-Personalized Mini Photo Album (I might use this to keep a picture of each of our Fosters)
-Greeting Cards (assortment)
-Personalized Pocket Calendars (oddly enough, the calendars don't come every year)
-Pen and Pencil Set
-Tee Shirts (although I haven't received one of these since 2005, which is a shame as I do wear them for working out, sleeping in, etc.)
-Fleece Throw Blankets (I think I've received at least two, maybe three of these)
-Tote Bags (can be useful except they are fairly cheap and fall apart easily if you put anything too heavy in them)
-Umbrella (this broke the first time I attempted to use it)
-Reading Glasses (I kid you not)
-Stuffed Dog, Stuffed Bear and Stuffed Wolf (this may actually have come from some place other than the HSUS). Both the dog and bear have tags around their necks that read, "Amy's Dog" and "Amy's Bear"
-His and Hers Sport Watches (this one sorta stunned me)
-Calculator (I just got this in the mail today, which is what prompted this entry)
I'm sure I've missed a few things (and God only knows what may be next).
The thing is, most of this stuff is cheaply made, falls apart, looks like crap (or pretty darn silly), etc. I feel guilty throwing them away, though. Some things I've been able to give to other people but most of it lays around our house in various places.
Seriously, if they are trying to get me to send them a donation, they'd have better luck mailing the following items instead:
-More Tee Shirts (hey, I don't mind sporting shirts with pictures of cute little kittens and puppies)
-Flip Flops (we all know these are cheap to make since you can find pairs of them for $2 at Wal-Mart)
-Antenna Balls (who wouldn't want kitty or doggie head to put on their antenna?)
-Cat and Dog Toys (with the menagerie we've got now, we can always use pet toys!)
-Cat and Dog Blankets (ok, I guess those fleece throw things they keep sending me are about the same thing)
-Cat and Dog Food Dishes and Water Bowls
-Cat Box Litter Scoops
-Playing Cards (they could have a different cute animal for each of the 52 cards)
Again; the VERY best thing they could do, as far as I am concerned, is stop sending stuff, period.