This rant on paper waste is a part of
Blog Action Day 2009 | Climate Change.
Many people that I work with know me to be obsessive about using less paper. First I reduce, then I reuse, then, at last, I recycle.
This carries over beyond my work life and into my personal life. I’m one of those people that calls my service providers to be removed from solicitation lists (did you know you can even get the paper inserts taken out of your credit card statements, even if you can’t get bills online?). I’d love to get zero mail (confession: birthday cards are still OK;).
This carries over beyond my work life and into my philanthropic life. I donate online.
I’ve worked in fund development before. I know that it’s important to meet donor preferences.
But this rule seems to breakdown when it comes to reducing paper.
- I donated to at least 5 different organizations last year. All of them I donated online with.
- Of those five, four of them followed up with print material – direct mail, invitations, newsletters, etc.
- Of those four, I emailed each of them asking them to remove me from their (paper) mail lists, though I added that I was happy to receive any information by email.
- Of those four, NONE have sent me any email. I actually had to email two of them after getting paper mail an additional time. I have received no further solicitations from any of them otherwise.
- Of those original five, only one continues to connect with me via email. Very intermittently – nothing to be considered spam. I also have found out about their campaigns via Twitter and Facebook. I have followed their campaigns’ success online. And surprise, they’re the one I donate the most to and have begun to donate most regularly to.
It (figuratively) breaks my heart to see nonprofits not getting it. Traditional ways of communicating with donors (ie mail) are still important for connecting with traditional donors. But “new” ways of communicating with donors (though “new” is debatable – the web has been used commonly for over a decade) are important to connect with and retain new donors AND cut down on paper.
Reduce and prosper?
Nonprofits should play their part in reducing waste (in both paper and the cost for stamps) by – at the very least – respecting the methods donors have gone out of their way to request to be solicited.