Wise Giving Wednesday: Removing Your Name from Charity Mailing Lists

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calendar icon Jan 27, 2021

The vast majority of people contacting us or visiting the Give.org website are seeking out charity reports to make more informed giving decisions. From time to time, however, some ask for help in getting their names removed from charity mailing lists. They may be seeking to reduce their overall volume of charity mail or are annoyed by the number of appeals distributed by the same organization. Whatever the cause, we hope the following will provide some assistance in addressing this issue.

First, as background, please note that direct mail, even during the pandemic, continues to generate the lion’s share of contributions revenue for most of the nationally-soliciting charities on which we report. While online giving continues to grow in popularity, direct mail is the dominating cornerstone of fundraising activity. Nevertheless, here are some ways to reduce unwanted charity mail.

Focus your giving. Charities don’t expect a contribution from everyone. If you donate, even small amounts, to a large number of charities, that will likely increase your charity mail volume. Taking the initiative in selecting the charities you want to help and discarding the rest, can, over time, lead to reduced mail volume.

Inform the charity about appeal preferences. When you make a donation to a charity, let them know, at the time of the contribution, that you don’t want your name shared with any other organization. Also, if you want just one appeal per year, inform the charity about that as well. Most organizations will honor your requests since they want your continuing support.

Register with DMA Choice.  Visit DMAchoice.org and register to have your name removed form mailing lists that subscribe to this service. This will remove your name from both charity and business mailing lists but won’t eliminate all unwanted mail. DMAChoice also offers an email opt out service.

Cautions about sending appeals back to the charity  Some mistakenly believe that writing “return to sender” on charity appeals will help. Actually, the nonprofit postal rate only covers postage in one direction – to your home. If you write that message on the envelope without adding additional postage, the charity will likely not receive it. A better strategy would be to send a note to the organization along with copies of the mailing labels and/or return cards that came with the appeal. This will help them identify where the mailing list came from and how they might remove your name form future mailings.

Contact BBB Wise Giving Alliance. We recommend first contacting the charity directly about mailing list removal using the email and/or the physical address that appears on the charity’s website. If a nationally-soliciting charity does not honor your request to your satisfaction, contact the BBB Wise Giving Alliance by using our online complaint form or writing us at BBB WGA, 3033 Wilson Blvd, Suite 710, Arlington, VA 22201. If your mailing list removal complaint is about a regionally-soliciting charity, contact the Better Business Bureau that serves your area.

Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video featuring Lisa Gurwitch, President and CEO of Delivering Good, a BBB Accredited Charity that provides donated essential items such as clothing, books, home goods and toys to serve needy children, families and individuals in all 50 states.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance

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