The Red Dot Campiagn website was brought to my attention recently, ( and as a person responsible for managing a direct mail program for an international organization based in Canada, I would like to thank you for your efforts.

“Junk mail” takes many forms…from credit card offers to important bank information or telephone service agreements, and from real estate and community updates to legitimate charities inviting people to make contributions to worthwhile endeavors. As a person who is acutely aware of the increasign costs of mailing to invite prospective donors to support the work of the UN Refugee Agency, I am always pleased when people tell me (politely) that they received something from me that they do not want.

Consequently, I recommend that in you list of ways to reduce “junk mail” you include: Contacting the source with your name and address as it appears on the mailing your received to ask them to remove it from future mailings. This option applies for charitable organizations, to be sure, but I don’t know whether it would have much effect on consumer advertising companies or agencies.

Clearly, if there is no chance that a Canadian will support our work, then we will certainly not invest in asking them for their financial assistance. Aside from being annoying and wasting paper, time and resources, mailing to the unwilling is a flagrant waste much needed charitable funds. We maintain a significant “suppression” file and apply it to every mailing we do; this way, we remove the names and addresses of individuals who contact us (and may be members of your campaign) as well as incorrect addresses and the addresses of the deceased, ill, or infirmed. In fact, we also have a toll free number and an email address printed on all materials we send that allows Canadians an easy way to simply tell us that they don’t wish to have mail sent to them.

The UN Refugee Agency, like all fiscally and ethically responsible charitable organizations, also employs the CMA “do not call file” you promote to remove the names and addresses of any who may appear in our mailing data. Indeed, I have even added names of Canadians to that list with their approval if they call me and don’t have internet access.

Again, I applaud your efforts to stimulate debate on this issue. One last word, however…for those who remove themselves from receiving “junk mail” from charities, I do hope that they consider proactively assisting worthwhile causes online (the most cost effective way to make a single contribution) or by becoming a monthly donor by calling the office of their charity(ies) of choice.

Finally, just like corporate mailers, all charitable organizations are obliged by law (and by common sense) to respect the wishes of those who wish to have their name removed from further mailings. The PIPEDA legislation that came into effect in 2005 guarantees the right of Canadians to privacy if they request it.


Jonathan Wade

Fundraising Officer

The UN Refugee Agency, Canadian Office.

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