Thursday, May 10, 2012

Charity envelopes

Putting our money where our mouth is.  That's what I talked about yesterday.

I have this love/grief relationship with charities.  I really want to support things bigger than myself, but I hate getting buried in paper just because I sent a check.  I spend a lot of time requesting to be taken off of extra mailing lists.  But what about all those envelopes from the charities I do give to?

I collect my envelopes up all year long.  Some of the nonprofits send me so much mail that my check probably doesn't go very far.  The NAACP, for example, has me on their list under two different spellings of my name -- even though I have repeatedly (meaning, many many times) asked them to fix that.  So I get all mailings from them twice.  And Doctors without Borders sends me about a gazillion reply envelopes a year with REAL stamps on them.  They're throwing their money away -- or worse, they're mailing their money to other people, who throw the money away for them.  Sheesh.
Reply envelopes with real stamps on them.
All from the same place.
All year long, I collect all requests. For those places I know for sure I don't want to give to, I write back asking them to remove me from their list, just so I don't get buried under notecards and goofy mailing labels.  The places I might eventually give to, I save in a slot in my desk.  Every once in a while, I go through and cull the duplicates, just so I can fit all my envelopes back in the "charity" slot.

Once a year, I pull all the envelopes out and sort them.  Okay, here comes the geeky part.  Yes, I alphabetize my charity envelopes.  I sort them out on the floor.  I cull down to just one reply envelope from each place.

I remove all the stamps from the many Doctors without Borders reply envelopes.  It is some weird kind of frugality I have, I know, that I'm mailing out $2000 in charity checks, while carefully ungluing unused stamps, and carefully re-gluing them to other envelopes.  I just can't throw that money in the trash.
I'll wet the paper, remove what I can, and then use glue
to attach these stamps to new envelopes.
My husband and I go through the envelopes, making choices about which places to give to.  We try for a mix of global and local.  We also try to mix feeding people, healing people, economic development, environment, and the arts.  I am sure we don't have the right mix.  The world, it's full of need.

And, unfortunately, the world is also full of paper.  The checks have gone out; they're in the mail.  And I know what I have sent out will come back to me tenfold.  Unfortunately.


  1. I came across your blog by googling "Doctors without Borders envelope stamps." I do the same, ha ha, except I tape an index card over the address and reuse the whole envelope.

    1. Ha! very funny. For me, I have a giant yard-sale-bought bottle of glue, so it's cheaper for me to reglue the stamps than to use tape. But I like your solution! -- MM.

  2. I can't believe there are at least 2 other people besides ME who do this. I was a little afraid to use the stamps because I thought they might not be regular stamps. I was going to use them to mail the rest of my charity envelopes that didn't put postage on them. It IS a shame to throw the money in the trash. I alphabetize mine too so I won't accidentally send two checks to the same place.