I use to belong to Sierra Club. I'm pretty sure they spent all the money I sent them trying to get me to give them more. Saved up all the paper appeals for six months and mailed them back to the President of the club, wrote a letter mentioning the phone calls too. Also asked why they didn't move out of San Francisco, the most expensive city in America. No reply
This is one of the largest reasons I don't donate like this.
Salvation Army? Grocery checkout asks? Bucket on the curb? Homeless man that might spend it on drugs? All good, they don't bother me years later with weekly letters, and letters from similar organizations that they gave my info to with a great big "SUCKER" stamped across it and I still get to feel like a not so shitty person.
When I was younger we "bought" my mom a real elephant at a conservation park in Africa because she loved elephants. They always sent newsletters and donation requests to her. After she died I forwarded her mail to my house in order to sort out her affairs. I sent them a letter explaining that my mother had died and I would appreciate it if they could stop sending me letters as it just reminded me that my mom was dead and I really didn't have any money to give them.
They took her name off the mail and started mailing them to me. I still get them 23 years later as a monthly reminder that my mom is still dead.
63.5% of all paper consumed in the US was recovered for recycling in 2010. Paper recovery for recycling has increased by 77% since 1990.
33% of paper comes from wood chips and sawmill scraps; another 33% comes from recycled paper. (US EPA)
While I agree this is obnoxious and *seems* ironic, the use of paper can be cheaper than running digital campaigns.
Paper is made in paper farms. They grow trees for like ten years, then pull them up by the roots, then replant them. Paper is a renewable resource. It's no more damaging than any other farmed resource.
On the plus side, you'll never run out of address labels (for the two letters you send each year).
When I was a kid, our synagogue/Hebrew School would always have us buy trees to plant in Israel as part of Tu'bishvat, a holiday celebrating the coming of spring.
When I became an adult, the big Jewish org in town started sending 4-5 mailings a week about events, fundraising drives, and so on... and I joked that all those trees we planted as kids were simply to supply the future mailings
This is why you always use a fake name and an enemy's return address when donating.
Actually, 100 sheets of paper would probably barely make a dent in tree loss because a single pine tree could probably make way more paper.
Plus I'm fairly certain the paper industry in certain country has to contribute to reforestation. (or they just manage their own tree farms, whichever.)
Plus there's always the possibility that your letters were made with recycled paper, so they didn't really need to cut down more trees outside of what they already cut down.
It was said that you would bring safety to the trees, not leave them in darkness!
I've told this story before, but it bears repeating occasionally.
I used to work for a large legal publisher. Part of the marketing team's job was to create cute little direct mail flyers for law firms to get them to buy more books, sign up for more access to the case law files, etc.
Every year, the marketing team has this huge party to pat themselves on the back for a great year. They routinely invite the head honchos from the various big firms to speak at round table events to boast about how awesome the company is so we can pat ourselves on the back and go home happy.
Well, at one of these round tables, one of the attorneys rolls in a fairly large suitcase. He rolls the suitcase to the middle of the stage unzips and pours out all of the direct mail flyers he's received over the past 6 months. It covered a large portion of the stage and without any irony he says,
"This is the amount of mail I get from you people in six months. This is shameful and made worse because it actually makes me less likely to buy your products when I'm inundated with this kind of stuff on a daily basis."
A few days after the party, I still remember the memo proclaiming the company was going "green" and would no longer pursue direct mail and how much it better it would be for the environment. I must have laughed in my cube for an hour after reading that one.