Sunday, March 10, 2013

So Many Labels, So Little Use

Name a holiday, any holiday. I've got mailing labels for that.

For more than a decade, I worked at various non-profits. I was usually the one who opened the mail and sorted the donations that came in. At least once a week, though, in addition to the checks we received from direct mail campaigns, we'd get letters chastising us for wasting so much money on postage. "I've gotten four letters from you this year. I already sent in money but am not going to send anymore if you're going to keep wasting money on stamps." Honestly, we got that letter a lot. Usually from someone who sent us a $3.00 check in the past and was then irked enough to spend another $0.22 (back then) on a stamp to send this reprimand to us, even though our mailings were done in bulk and cost about $0.03/letter.

That was in the 1990's. Oh, how times have changed!

Now, I am inundated by direct mailings from every nonprofit under the sun. I'm sure you've all gotten them, too: the envelope full of return address labels asking you to please send in a donation to cover the cost of the address labels. Oh, that I could. I get at least one envelope full of them every day. I get them addressed to people who haven't even lived in my house for 15 years; former residents who are surely getting the same address labels at their current address. I'm pretty sure at this point that I could wallpaper my house with all the address labels I have.

It's ironic, really. Back in the 1990's, I actually bought return address labels. I ran out of them all the time. In those days, I wrote letters to people and mailed off query letters with SASE envelopes. I mailed in all my bills. In fact, everything was done by mail. I would have been thrilled to get free address labels in the mail.

Now, though, I'm lucky if I use one label a week. I rarely mail anything other than greeting cards and a few bills. Even if I were still writing letters and sending out snail mail, I'd never be able to use all the address labels I have now.

What I'm dying to know is how incensed those nonprofit donors are these days at the "exorbitant" amount of money nonprofits are spending to mail all these out? It's not that expensive, really. But if people were mad back when we mailed four campaign letters a year, how irate are they now?


  1. I love getting address labels! In theory. But you're right: in reality, I can't keep up an outgoing volume to pace my incoming labels. (And I actually do send out mail a lot more than most people in my generation, I think. Just letters and cards and such.)

    1. Me, too. I love receiving things in the mail, so do my duty to perpetuate mail. But I'll never use all these labels.