I am trying to simplify my life and my financial life, and am making good progress, partly because I am well organized and hate stuff. A few financial areas are defeating me, however.

This one may be off topic; if so, please just say so.

I donate to 20 or so charities whose work I am familiar with and admire. I give to each twice a year, which means 40 checks to write, track, and keep copies of and 40 letters of acknowledgment to watch for, record and save, to support this one item on my IRS return. It is time-consuming, and Boring to the Point of Physical Pain (bttpopp).

Moreover, many of the charities

  • Send me "free gifts" (all of which I find useless crap)

  • Send me appeals repeatedly during the year

  • Send me information repeatedly during the year

This deluge of material is also bttpopp, even though it all goes straight into the recycle.

Not all my charities do all of the above, and some have complied with my requests to send me nothing but acknowledgments and an annual report. I have stopped giving to the most intransigent offenders, but still the mail, and the free gift crap comes and comes and comes.

This consequence of generosity may sound so trivial that it isn't worth worrying about, but it is a Chinese Water Torture thing. Drip, drip, drip, scream.

I can't imagine they would do things I have repeatedly told them I hate if I were a big, big donor, but my contributions are all in the low four figures per year.

How do I get them to stop without devoting my life to the campaign? **Will donating through something like the Vanguard Philanthropic Center be

  1. less time consuming
  2. spare me the deluge of mail? and possibly
  3. stop getting me on mailing lists of related charities to whom I have never sent and never will send, anything?
  • 1
    Offer $41.9k on condition they forward $41k .... No, wait.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 7:58
  • Can you set up an automatic wire transfer? Here in the EU it's common to have wire transfer templates that automatically execute at intervals. Sorry if it's not helpful for your situation.
    – BlueWizard
    Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


I think that you're tilting at windmills on this one and the windmill isn't going to lose. Unless it's a small local charity, most that I have dealt with don't have the time or inclination to customize their mailing lists for your convenience.

While I don't contribute to as many charities as you, perhaps only 10 or so, I give enough to get plenty in return for the recycle fodder. The thing that bothers me most is the "free gifts" that arrive regularly. Writing pads, holiday cards, return address labels, stickers, pens, magazines, small stuffed animals, and even low denomination coins. If I send a charitable contribution, I want as much of it as possible to go to the cause rather than toward raising more money. AFAIC, it's wasteful.

As an aside, other peeves of mine are when the execs of the charity receive exorbitant salaries as well as when the charity has a low percentage of donations actually going to the charitable cause. CharityNavigator.org and Guidestar.org are very useful for examining the financials and weeding these out. Also, selling my name to other charities isn't high on my list either (more fodder).

I have stopped donating semi-annually and annually. I now give triple the amount every three years. It doesn't diminish the amount of recycle fodder but it makes the bookkeeping lighter. It's also more beneficial in terms of taxation since in some years, I don't exceed the threshold for itemization. I don't know how this is going to shape up with the new tax law but that will become apparent in the next few months when I file because this year was the donation year.

Due to the onslaught of Robo calls (including the charities), I no longer answer the phone if I don't recognize the phone number on caller ID. The answering machine can take any who deign to leave a message but the charity callers rarely do. This, along with the 3 year plan has taken most of this off my radar.

  • +1 for the moral support! I am thinking of going to once a year to reduce the paperwork by 50%. I still hope someone can comment on services like the Vanguard service I mentioned.
    – ab2
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 2:12
  • I'm not familiar with the Vanguard Philanthropic Center but if its choice of charities aligns with your vision, it will be less time consuming. It will not diminish the deluge of mail by much nor will it stop other charities from acquiring your name and attempting to woo you with their cause. Some of these charities are relentless. I regularly get mail at my current address in my father's name, requesting contributions. The problem with this picture is that he died 23 years ago, 5 years before I moved to my current home. Once you're on their lists, they 'own' your name. Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 2:27

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