Charity – or clarity – begins at home

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

The year must be drawing to a close as I/we see yet another influx of the usual unsolicited mail that seems to be now a part of the ‘festive’ ritual that is Christmas.

The ‘season’ kicked off about mid-October with a wonderfully decorated envelope that could only have one thing in mind – sending money to the sender once the contents are read through, although having got wiser with age in such matters, it usually goes into the recycling bin as it was not requested and it’s unsolicited.

This one, and more have arrived since from many a different ‘cause’ or crisis, contained a selection of Christmas cards that are ‘free’ but if I/you are inclined to send a (minimum) donation back, then all well and good. However, in small print it outlines ‘there is no obligation to do so’. To those with problem eyesight this minor point might not be noticed, and the receiver may well feel obligated to send money back regardless, as some people have certain standards and know no other way of doing things.

However, it does not end there.

If you are so overwhelmed with the design of these cards, then joy of further great joys, they are available in sets of a dozen (that’s ten plus two more for those who have gone metric) at a smidgeon under nine pounds a set with postage extra. Then there’s a ‘special offer’ of a calendar featuring the usual twelve expected months (once again, that’s ten plus two extra if of the metric persuasion) for a trifling – wait for it – seven pounds and fifty pence type coins of the current realm (plus postage, natch).

There is a further suggestion of ‘why not give your family, relations, friends (and others that usually expect a bottle of aftershave or cuff-links) one of these beautifully designed and admired (?) calendars for Christmas’. Such offers do not include any details as to how to win the lottery first in order to finance this possible ‘suggestion’ plus no discounts are implied or quoted for those wishing to buy in bulk or by the pallet load.

This bumper fun pack, must have cost quite a bit when you consider minor points such as the numerous meetings by superior beings to decide on how best to target the punters, sorry us I should say, to get the readies as in the cash from us. Then there’s the printing of the packing, the postage and other elements that might be filed under the miscellaneous tag as its not cheap, but in a lot of cases, it’s wasteful. If these causes are so desperate for cash, how come they can find the money to set these wheezes rolling as, surely, one way of using their money wisely is on the very cause they are trying to raise funds for?

If nobody responded there are some outright ‘winners’ in this game – the printers and envelope stuffers etc, and the Royal Mail for the delivery service.

Since I started writing this – just gone half past lunch – another two (yes, two) similar delights have been delivered, although they are from different organisations, both have a sheet of ‘Christmas Festive seals’ or those small sticky labels with your name and address (Data Protection? you ask) printed on them together with the organisations name or logo that are once again ‘free’. Although the fact again remains, I did not send for them or order them.

The new ploy is sending out books of raffle tickets as these two both contained a book of them (five in a book, a pound a ticket) with one including a pen to possibly help fill the counterfoils in maybe - how thoughtful.

So add to the above line up of expenses the cost of a ‘free pen’ tattooed with the organisations name etc, as you realise there is serious money being slung at these schemes/campaigns/wheezes, but then we are in the grips of the charity industry and it is just that, an industry like it or not.

Its worth a look on the internet at the ‘big name’ charities, and a few clicks will soon bring up the eye watering ‘salaries’ that are paid to assorted Chief Executive Officers, Chairpersons, kindred hangers-on with wonderful sounding job titles etc. Usually the roles come with a pension plus perks, expenses, car or possible yacht etc, and it makes you wonder that if these folk are worth all this money as being so wonderfully ‘talented’, then how come they are not running the country?

I would love to see a report, a real one, on just how these people spend their day or hours, while in the job and what they physically do for their ‘salary’ plus bits.

I would point out I am not ‘anti-charity’, quite far from it, but I think a line has to be drawn with all this waste as just how much goes into recycling once its opened or more to the point, how many go straight unopened into the recycling bin regardless?

With all this waste, oddly the ‘save the planet’ folk do not seem to be up in arms as far as I am aware with this waste of natural resources and the effects on the environment in general as one would expect, unless they are in on the same malarkey of course.

In one respect I/we have ourselves to blame as we actually assist such organisations as we are on mailing lists, usually done quite innocently as in filling in ‘surveys’ being a chief culprit. These can come in the street (example: ‘I wonder if you have a few minutes to spare to help me with this survey into why you think people would be silly or gullible enough to fill in umpteen pages in a survey asked by a total stranger, that include your personal details as I do smile a lot and induce confidence’), or on-line, of course, with your details running the risk of being sold on to assorted concerns who will bombard you with junk mail through the letterbox or through your e-mail account.

I have had reasonable success in a sense with the following method.

If I inquired about something or sent for something like mail-order but felt this was a ‘one off’ occasion, I always give different initials relating to my middle name.

I think I may well have used the best part of the alphabet over the years, but I made a note of whom it concerned, when I had sent them, and a lot of the times it’s worked well.

Usually, it took a few months, once a few weeks in one instance, for something unsolicited to come back to me with designated but incorrect middle initials and a swift look at my list told me who not to deal with again.

Those who replied with whatever I was asking for and did not sell my details on, I continued dealing with as required. A simple, but effective, method, plus, over many years, it’s worked well and still does, so a minor triumph for the consumer – or me to be exact.

I suppose I had better get a bigger recycling bin ready for the next wave of the above mentioned stuff that will be coming shortly through the letterbox with raffle tickets, crimbo cards and perhaps ‘soup of the month’ offers.

Charity or clarity? – I rest my case.

Previously...

Dresses in keeping