Honestly, I thought there'd be more

On November 18, 2013 I mailed cheques for $100 to eight charities, and made $100 online donations to four more – all to charities to which I’d ​never before given, and which have never been clients. I wanted to see what would happen next.

This was the beginning of the whitemail experiment. You can read the original three posts starting here. http://www.kmaconsultants.ca/blog/welcome-white-mail-experiment

(I inadvertently made one of the original online gifts to a US charity instead of its Canadian counterpart but corrected that quickly. The Canadian organization is reflected here.)

Now, 18 months later, I’m generally surprised at how little mail I received. Given the frequency with which fundraisers are criticized for inundating people, I thought my array of unsolicited, undesignated gifts would have generated more mail.

Yet from 12 Canadian charities, in 18 months, I received only 85 pieces of mail, and 64 emails. The mail doesn’t fill an ordinary grocery bag.

Calculating a per-charity average, however, would be meaningless: the actual numbers range from 1 piece of mail to 21.

Had I chosen certain charities over others, the numbers would have been higher: for example, it might have been instructive to include one of the major medical research charities. I also suspect that the modest gift size didn’t create enough incentive for some to press for further engagement. 

Yet even if I had replaced the three charities that sent only one item with three that responded more like, say, the hospital, I would have received 115 pieces of mail total. Hardly shocking or outrageous.

Meanwhile, one result was no surprise at all – the timing of appeals. Everyone in Canada with a mailing address knows the pattern in the chart below.

So the basic report is simple: less mail than expected, and a familiar peak in the run-up to Christmas. Yet there’s more to dig out of the mailbag.

Next: Missing in action