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Dimes Don't Make Me Donate!

In my kitchen, next to my telephone, sit a stack of pads of paper, all sent as gifts from various charities soliciting money. In my desk-filing drawer, tucked behind the stamps, stand sheets and sheets of address labels, given free.  In an old coffee can—my 26-year-old son’s former piggy bank—I toss the dimes that seem to arrive monthly.

What’s with all the free stuff? Pads of shopping lists won’t convince me to send a donation. Address labels probably are going the way of sealing wax in usefulness. I pay most bills on-line. Letter writing? Except for the occasional birthday card or thank you note, that’s another lost art.

But the dimes! Now, that’s something. Save ten, I’ll have $1. I can do this math. I was taught, “A penny saved, is a penny earned.” And not to waste money, and keep some for a rainy day. You name it regarding spending and saving money;  I heard it. (And still do.)

The March of Dimes mails real coins with requests to return the dimes with a more significant contribution. I wonder; how many dimes they send? (Think: US population, number of households, amount spent on postage, even with non-profit rates, number of dimes. This math I can’t do.)

How many people return the dimes and a check? What if the organization didn’t send the dimes and put them toward its goals?

President Franklin Roosevelt, who became afflicted with polio as an adult, created the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the forerunner of the March of Dimes. The organization aided polio victims and funded the research by the vaccines that ended the epidemic. It later turned its resources towards preventing birth defects, infant mortality, premature births, which it continues.

Great causes; like all the other charities soliciting. It’s hard to throw these mailings into the recycling bin. I try to be selective; supporting some of these with small contributions, including the March of Dimes. Once a year! These requests are coming much more frequently.

What’s the answer? I’m not sure email requests would receive more attention. Seeing the actual plea, the envelope with the pads of paper, the sheets of address labels, and the dimes, maybe tweak people into donating.

Then there’s the worry about charities themselves. How much of a donation goes directly to the cause? How does one know whether a charity is honest, hasn’t been indicted for some egregious crime?

In the meantime, I’m collecting my envelopes for 2012 giving.

As for the March of Dimes, perhaps it’s time it catches up with inflation. A quarter would buy me a half hour of downtown parking. Now that’s a good gift.