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When Charities Send You Return Address Labels

Updated on August 8, 2008

Is It Bad Karma To Use The Return Address Labels Charities Send If You Don't Donate? - Don't Get Me Started!

I have lived my whole life on the premise that if it makes you feel guilty than you're writing a bad karma check that will not only be returned to you but with overevil fees too. Now due to the fact that I'm Jewish, I'm pretty much guilty over everything even when bad things happen to me that I don't even deserve. My brother (much more philosophical than I) once explained it to me this way, we're all a big bowl of Jell-o and if we can all send positive ripples through the Jell-o we'd be just fine but sometimes someone on the other side of the bowl is sending some negative ripples and thus you get smacked upside your head with bad shit that you didn't deserve because some asshole on the other side of the bowl isn't sending out positive waves. (Oh my God, I've got to write to Oprah, I think I finally figured out what the hell "The Secret" is all brother was trying to tell me years ago with the whole Jell-o thing.) Now on the whole I'm a complete rule follower and I also try to donate to charities whenever possible (perhaps to alleviate my guilt for all the negative ripples I'm causing on my side of the bowl) but the more I give, the more charities want a piece of me. Now, I just tear open the envelope, look for the free return address labels they send and throw out the letter without even reading it. Is it bad karma to use the return address labels charities send if you don't donate? - Don't get me started!

In the past I've had no trouble just throwing away the Habitat for Humanity awful greeting cards (I donated money once in 1987 and they send me a request for money every two weeks that sometimes I think it's another bill) or the stickers for my car that some charities send. But I'm pretty sure that today I reached an all time low. I have no idea what charity it even was but they had rubber cemented a nickel to the letter so I ripped off the nickel (quickly put it in my Nipper dog bank - think RCA Victor's logo dog), ripped off the return address labels and tossed the rest in the trash. I'm sure it had something to do with a nickel a day, week or month making a difference but I didn't have time for it and yet, there's this awful feeling of dread that I'm going to have to pay more than a nickel for this somewhere down the road.

Although it may be too late to change your impression of me, please know that I do donate whenever and whatever I can (and yes, more than just crap I don't want to Goodwill to get the receipt for taxes). I donate to all sorts of charities and even my long distance carrier, Working Assets, allows you to round up your bill each month and at the end of the year you can choose which charities get your money. And yes, I DO round up each and every month. True, I donate mostly to the gay charities, meaning The Human Rights Campaign and the Gay Men's Health Crisis (the second one mostly because someday I hope to do a little withdraw from these donations for this gay man's MENTAL health crisis - could happen at any moment).

On the whole I think I'm covered as they say but I also have a drawer full of return address labels that have more than the red ribbon or the Human Rights equal sign on them. Truth be told, I have more labels than charities I donate too and I'm at the point where I have a whole system where the ones I donate to are too good to go on most of my regular mail. If it's a bill, they get a floral one from some charity I would never dream of donating to instead of the coveted red ribbon one and if it's someone I know, then I want them to see the red ribbon to know that I donated. (Yikes, suddenly I'm feeling as if I'm the only person in the world that prioritizes like this and stresses about it.) The thing is I pay most of my bills online so I don't even use the damn address labels that much which is why I have a freaking drawer full of them! Maybe it's all part of the charity conspiracy, they know that we're never going to use them but it's all part of the guilt thing to try and get some money out of you.

Almost worse than the labels and this guilt I have over them is when I finally do send some money to a charity and they send me a thank you letter with another envelope to donate some more money. What the hell are these people thinking? Do they not know that if you say, "thank you" with your hand out for more money it completely negates the thank you altogether? Am I the only one who thinks that this is rude?

I don't know, I want to do the right thing, I want to help those less fortunate than me (though sometimes it's difficult to believe there can be anyone who is less fortunate than me, the greatest never was been that's ever been) but the more I give, the more they want. The more they send me letters and DVDs, killing many a tree and whatever you have to kill to make a DVD and then I have guilt over all of that too, all the waste. I'll never win. And somewhere I just have this feeling that very soon, those address labels are going to be my undoing. Then I tell myself I'm just having a gay man's mental health crisis for no reason and I need to just start making positive waves in the Jell-o. Is it bad karma to use the return address labels charities send if you don't donate? - Don't get me started!

To alleviate my guilt, here are the links to the charities mentioned above in this blog. If you're looking for good labels, I highly recommend GMHC and HRC! - Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) - Goodwill Industries - Habitat For Humanity - Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

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      Bobbie 4 years ago

      I just got some from St Judes today with beautiful Christmas designs of Snowmen and I love them. I did not solicit them and the thing that really bites is I sent my last 2 cards out today and after having done all my addresses by hand. I could have used them 2 weeks ago. Now I have to wait a year or cut off the snowmen. Way to go St Judes....donation I don't think so. Maybe next year you can get them to me when I can use them. American disabled Veterans got theirs to me in Nov. early guess who is getting my money....

    • profile image

      Jaya Singh 5 years ago

      Why do charties waste money on address labels when majority of work is done on line? Who needs them? I get so many that it is most frustrating and try to send donations only to those who donot waste money sending cards, calenders,dimes etc. It such waste of paper (trees too) & creates extra trash. But the problems is that once you donate they keep sending them 2, 3, or 4 times a year.

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      5 years ago

      i agree with u totally katie, i am looking for some labels from any company that will just send them to me i and low on money and would lvoe some labels and will donate to any charity once i get my income tax if u know if any charity that will send labels please e-mail me at

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      Katie 5 years ago

      Why cut off the part of the label that identifies the charity? If you aren't going to donate, the least you can do is help them advertise and spread the word of their charity!

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      Molly's MOM 7 years ago

      Just yesterday I picked up the mail, got a nickel and a sheet of address labels.

      First thought, if they would have kept all those nickels, how much money would they have saved?

      Second thought, why waste by throwing away the labels?

      Kept the nickel, put the labels in the desk drawer to use later. Guilt? No.

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      Alexandra_Covington 8 years ago

      When charities send me address labels, and I do not intend, (or, really, can't afford), to send them money, I always try to cut off the part of the label -- if there is one -- that identifies the charity. But I DO use them.

      I remember hearing of a debate once brought up in the American courts, as to whether using such labels should be allowed. I believe it was brought by a Jewish group, because Jewish Law, ("Halacha"), says this should not be done. It says that if you receive such labels, and do not want to donate to the charity, you are duty-bound to send them back (!) But the US Law saw things differently. It is now part of UNITED STATES law that you can do anything you want with unsolicited, free merchandise -- including address labels, sent by charities!

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      Esther 8 years ago

      I too am Jewish, and I've always hated the "fairness" doctrine, (sliding scales for social services, never letting people get ahead, because it's not "fair" that some should have more....even if they've worked hard and EARNED it! (Can you believe...they even criticized Steven Spielberg because he created a talking ET, etc. Of course, that was before Schindler's List....)

      Anyway, as regards charities -- I have ONE charity, (Disabled American Veterans)....because my dad reported as a IA for WWII duty, only my grandmother came to the barracks and said "You can't take my son...he has an ulcer!" Xrays proved it true....he didn't think a "mere" ulcer should have kept him out of the army---but the army did! (He got the ulcer because he had ambivalent feelings about wanting to be a "good Jew", and also enjoy Amercian Freedoms...which too often contradict. (The ulcer turned to cancer and killed him at age 64! Am I angry at Judaism....? You bet I am! But I give to the DAV in his memory...and also because I have a physical ailment that I could have lost during puberty....but still have it,,,because ambivalence about Judaism vs. American Freedom used up too much of my energy, (too!)

      WHY GIVE TO ANY CHARITY AT ALL? WHY SHOULDN'T THE PEOPLE INVOLVED, (wheelchair providers, food distributors, etc.), DONATE T H E I R GOODS TO THE CHARITY? Why pay for something OTHERS should DONATE? Charities are as bad as taxes! They work on your guilt. Yes...I have it better than a lot of people....but Britany Spears and Lindsay Lohan, and Miley Cyrus have it a LOT better than me!!!! Do they deserve it? What, if any charities, do THEY donate to? GUILT HAS BEEN DEFINED AS SIMPLY WANTING TWO THINGS AT THE SAME TIME. I AM WORKING HARD TO GET RID OF NON-GIVING TO MOST CHARITIES, THE WAY RICH PEOPLE DON'T GIVE A PROPORTIONATE PART OF THEIR INCOME!


    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 10 years ago from Las Vegas

      No, it does not make you a bad person Michelle, it makes you a smart one! Ruff, Ruff, Meow, Meow...Michelle's getting new labels and that ain't bad!

    • profile image

      Michelle 10 years ago

      Great. Now I feel bad about using the labels and not donating....

      You could always look at it this way. You put out good waves by donating to any charity at all, thus karma sends you return address labels. They don't necessarily have to be from the same charity, your positive ripples are rippling back at you.

      Does it make me a bad person that I've moved and am now considering donating to the Humane Society so I can label my Christmas cards for "free" again?

    • gredmondson profile image

      gredmondson 10 years ago from San Francisco, California

      One of my life goals is to use all the return address lables that have been sent to me -- and to my sons at my address. I used to be able to keep up, but more labels seem to be arriving just as when I started paying bills online. I have thought of writing to the co anies and telling them to take me off their lists.