I Don’t Care How Many Return Address Labels You Send Me

I still won’t donate to your religion-based charity.

Christmas LabelsThis year, I received a bumper crop of pre-printed return address labels. I got some with autumn colors and decorations (leaves and pumpkins), some with Thanksgiving themes (turkeys and cornucopias), and plenty with Christmas themes (Christmas trees, snowmen, candy canes, and wreaths). I kept them all. After all, I still do send out the occasional piece of mail, and it’s nice to have a colorful return address label to put on it.

I also got a bunch of religious-themed ones (crosses, Mary, baby Jesus). I threw those away. I’m not a religious person and certainly don’t want anyone to think I am.

Of course, all of these return address labels came with a pre-addressed return envelope and donation form. I threw those away, too.

Religious-themed or not, every single return address label I received as a “gift” was from a religious charity. If I’m not a religious person, why would I donate money to a religious charity? There are so many other non-religious charities that are just as noble — if not more so — than ones waving a religious banner.

I have Covenant House to thank for all of these labels. Last year, at the request of an author who had given me an autographed copy of his book, I made a $20 donation to his pet charity. It wasn’t until after I made the donation that I realized what the charity was all about. Yes, they do help battered women and children, etc. But they do so in their special Christian way. That way obviously includes using a direct mailing campaign to nag the hell out of anyone who has ever donated a dime so they keep sending money. I get at least one mailer a month from them, despite multiple requests to get off their list. That way also includes selling my name and address to all the other religious charities they know so they can pester me as well.

Of course, they do send those useful labels, so it isn’t all bad.

I believe that many people donate when they receive these “gifts” because they feel guilty if they don’t. Like God is going to strike them dead or sick or something. Or they’ll just get bad karma.

But the way I see it, a “gift” is a gift. It doesn’t require anything in return. I didn’t ask them to send me these labels. I don’t really need them. Why should I pay for them?

Think of it this way: If someone were to park a new car on your driveway and then ring your doorbell, hand you the keys and a clean title, and ask you for $25,000, would you pay him? Other than the perceived value, how are the labels any different?

And wouldn’t it be wasteful to throw all those pretty labels away?

What do you think?