Back in March I gave a preliminary report on charitable solicitations I received in 2008. At that point, my solicitations were running 3% behind 2001, the last time I conducted such a study. But by the end of the year, 2008 had topped 2001. Last year I received 864 solicitations (2 more than in 2001), plus 123 newsletters or magazines, from 214 different charitable organizations. (That does not count thank-you letters and tax receipts that were sent by the charities I actually donated to.) The biggest single month was October, when I received 103 solicitations – that's an average of 3.8 every time I opened my mailbox!
One major difference between the two years is that 2008 was an election year. I received 40 solicitations that I categorized as political, of which 33 were from political parties or candidates. In 2001 I received only 13 politically oriented solicitations.
The category with the biggest drop was Roman Catholic religious orders. In 2001, 31 orders sent me 80 solicitations (with 22 coming from a single order!). In 2008, just 9 orders sent me 11 solicitations. In late 2000 I purchased a rosary from a monastery, and I think the monks must have shared my address with everyone in the Catholic Church. Most of them probably lost track of me after I moved in 2003 and 2004.
The two worst offenders were Human Rights Watch and WETA, each of which sent me 19 solicitations. I had not donated to either in 2007, so I'm not sure what they hoped to accomplish by flooding my mailbox.
At the other extreme, two local charities that I have donated to consistently over the past decade did not contact me at all last year. In the past I have even made special efforts to restore contact with them after I moved, but it seems they just aren't very good at keeping their databases up to date.