016 DGM – How to Fight the Charity Mail Flood

How to Fight the Charity Mail Flood

Welcome back. This is the podcast that helps you and other donors and volunteers do good even better — regardless of which charities or causes you support. 

This is Ed Long. Each week on this podcast I talk about charities and provide actionable tips to help donors and volunteers to take their philanthropy to the next level and do good even better.

Give smart from your heart, because doing good matters.


We’re building a community of caring people who want to make the world better. And are willing to spend time and energy to make it happen. And to find and support strong charities doing solid work.

You can Join the Community now. We welcome all new members. Last week Karen from Germantown, MD, became our 12oth member.  Will you become member #130?


Tell me where to go next — please

Tell me where to go - Please!


Main topic

  • How to Fight the Charity Mail Flood
    • We’re talking again today about the smart part of Give Smart from Your Heart.Charity Mail
    • Charities send me too much mail” is the #1 feeling shared so far in our 2014 community survey.
      • It’s even beating “I hate charity telemarketing calls” on the negative side and “I know and support a strong charity doing solid work” on the positive side.
    • What’s the biggest factor in the charity mail you get today?
      • It’s the donating you’ve done to charities in the past.
    • If you want to fight the charity mail flood, start by contacting the charities you already donate to.
      • I’ve written about this at length in a separate post, which includes a sample letter you can send to charities to tell them your wishes about privacy and contacting you.
    • Your smart and easy assignment for today
      • Write to your #1 charity and tell it your wishes about privacy and contacting you. Use and/or adapt the sample letter.
    • A big part of giving smart from your heart is spending your time and energy on charities that are well-managed and do strong work. Well-managed charities will respect your privacy and your wishes about being contacted.
  • Had experiences? Have feedback? Share your thoughts  in the Reply / Comment section at the bottom of the page. Or email me at ed[@]seriousgivers.org

Episode sponsor

  • Today’s sponsor is the number 250 billion. 
    • In 2012, individuals as a group were again by far the top givers in the U.S. — giving about $250 billion. That’s 79% of the total.
    • And that doesn’t even count the dollars given by family foundations, which are tracked in the foundations category.
    • Foundations (including than family foundations) gave about $47 billion+.
    • Corporations gave about $19 billion.
    • This information is as reported inGiving USA 2013: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, a publication of Giving USA Foundation™.
    • Individuals are by far the biggest force in charitable giving. What we do matters. If we focus our giving, we will change the world.
    • Quick links
      • The Giving USA Foundation has issued a free executive summary and offers the full report for sale.
      • You can find every nonprofit and charity currently registered with the IRS at CharityCheck101.org – including its EIN, identity and tax status. All the IRS data, without the kerfuffle.

Your questions answered

  • Question
    • In Doing Good Matters episode 12 you told about a German University having the highest EIN of any nonprofit or charity. Why would a German University care about being a nonprofit or charity?
  • My answer
    • U.S. universities often seek and obtain determinations from that IRS that they are nonprofit under section 501(c)(3). Typically they do it to encourage donors (who get tax benefits from giving to 501(c)(3) charities). Any many foundations are set up so they can only give to 501(c)(3) charities.
    • Those are U.S. universities. Why would a German university care? It’s probably not subject to taxes in the U.S., so likely wouldn’t care about being a tax-exempt nonprofit.
      • I’m guessing here, and didn’t contact the Gottingen University in Germany.
      • It obtained an IRS 501(c)(3) ruling back in 1970. My guess is that back in 1970 it had a U.S. donor interested in donating to it. Maybe a U.S. foundation that could only donate to 501(c)(3) charities, or an individual U.S. major donor that wanted to make sure that they could deduct the donation as a charitable contribution.
      • So, the Gottingen University applied for an obtained an IRS 501(c)(3) determination.
  • Lessons learned
    • Having an IRS determination that an organization is a Section 501(c)(3) charity helps the organization when seeking grants from U.S. donors who are foundations or otherwise care about deducting the donation as a charitable contribution.
    • It could even help a university in Germany that doesn’t pay U.S. income taxes.

Share your questions and feedback

I’d love to hear from you. I read every comment and email.

  • Send a voicemail using the black tab on the right side of any page.
  • Use the reply / comment box below.
  • Send me an email at ed[@]seriousgivers.org.

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About Ed Long, the podcaster

Podcaster Ed Long has been preparing more than 40 years to do this podcast. He knows charities and the rules that apply to them. He’s analyzed charity finances and operations.  He’s founded and run charities, and volunteered for them. He’s helped the public and law enforcement fight fake charities, and has served as a philanthropy educator and coach. Before all that he worked as a partner with a major Wall Street law firm. Ed is the founder and CEO of SeriousGivers, which itself is a charity. Ed knows the great work that strong charities can do with the resources entrusted to them, and is passionate about helping others find and support strong charities.