Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Courtesy is All

What I did today was bitch out Planned Parenthood. I felt much better afterward.

Gloria Feldt
President, Planned Parenthood
434 West 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001

Dear Ms. Feldt,

Recently, I received a letter from you, under the auspices of Planned Parenthood, which began, “I am deeply troubled by your decision not to renew your annual membership to Planned Parenthood ...and I fear that I may not have adequately explained to you how much you’re still needed.” The letter goes on to enumerate the many wonderful things Planned Parenthood does for the community, none of which I have any quarrel with whatsoever. The problem I have, and the reason I am not sending you any money at this time, are your fundraising tactics.

Sometime late last year, not even a year ago by my count, I sent Planned Parenthood some money. I am self-employed and I do not yet make enough from my work to cover my basic living expenses. Having enough money to pay for even basic preventive healthcare for myself is still a distant dream.

After sending my check to Planned Parenthood, I received another request for money, practically in the return post. I was irked. The phrase “annual membership” implies that funds will be requested, and donated, annually. It might be permissible to send information updates every six months or so, but sending them more often is pushing it.

I continued to receive letters in the mail from Planned Parenthood at least once a month or more. It became clear to me that every cent of my original check was being spent in dunning me for more money, and not on providing healthcare for needy women such as myself. Not once did I receive a thank-you note, or any information which might be beneficial to me personally, such as a list of clinics in my area which provide affordable gynecological exams.

Other non-profit organizations to which I have sent money do not behave in this way. Oxfam, for example, sent me a very nice postcard thanking me for my donation, and limits their repeat requests to once every six months or so. In my opinion, this is the way civilized people and institutions behave. I do not wish to support an institution which uses my money to harass me, however beneficial their purported purpose.

If Planned Parenthood cannot show more restraint in their requests, I must regretfully request that you take me off your mailing list entirely. I know you need my money; please offer me something positive in return.



1 comment:

Jefferson Locke said...

I'm sorry you had that problem with Planned Parenthood. There are charities to which I donate and I've found the site to be quite useful when appraising them. For example, PP rates 2/4 (the rating system is clearly explained and his based on the forms that non-profits must file with the IRS). Your experiences re PP and Oxfam are reflecting in the fundraising numbers. PP spends 14.9% of its budget on fundraising ($0.18 for every dollar it raises) while Oxfam only spends 12.3% ($.09 for every dollar it raises).

The Better Business Bureau does something similar at