Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 90° Clear
News >  Features

Miss Manners: Nothing to be done about rude charities

Judith Martin

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Customarily, my wife and I send out several thousand dollars of charitable checks. This year, I am probably out of a job. Out of work, with no income.

There are only about three organizations to which I feel truly obligated and indebted, and I will send them a token amount (20 percent of previous years) and a note of explanation, and a pledge to send more, if and when I can.

What am I supposed to do with the other 97 charities to which I have been giving for many years?

If I waste 44 cents each to tell them I have no money to give, they will ignore that note and keep on begging and bleating that they deserve my charitable dollars. They will each spend many times 44 cents to try to shame me into giving money I don’t have.

If I ignore their entreaties, they will keep on sending more letters begging and bleating. I mean, I know these guys well. They are not bashful about sending more begging, bleating letters even after I have sent them a contribution. If I send them X $ of contribution, they beg me to send more $ to renew my “Membership.” If I pay my Membership, they beg piteously for an extra contribution. I know these guys.

What should I do? I don’t want to insult them – even though they are happy to insult me by implying I am a cheapskate for not sending them my last dollar. What’s the price of a postcard? Is that OK?

GENTLE READER: It has always puzzled Miss Manners to find how often those who work on behalf of other people in general feel free to annoy the particular people with whom they come into contact. The Mrs. Jellyby syndrome, so cleverly delineated by that nice Mr. Dickens.

Yet doing so is, as you have experienced, common fundraising practice. As you point out, the grating pleas will continue no matter what you do. So it seems futile to offer an explanation unless you can get the attention of someone in a position to stop using charity money to be rude.

Readers may write to Miss Manners at MissManners@, or via postal mail at United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016.
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.