The most obscene “guilt mailing” I’ve ever seen

UPDATE [March 19, 2012]: If you’ve arrived at this page because you received a solicitation for charity from St. Joseph’s Indian School and you are investigating whether the school deserves your support, then please see the comment below from David Fitzpatrick, a CNN investigative producer who is researching a story about St. Joseph’s and their fundraising vendor, Quadriga arts. He would like to hear from you, especially if you have a mailing from St. Joseph’s which you haven’t yet discarded. You can email him here.

Now, back to the original blog posting…

You’ve all gotten them, right?  An envelope, or sometimes even a box, from some alleged charity you’ve never heard of before.  You open it up and discover personalized mailing labels, greeting cards, a notepad, a tree ornament, a cheap electronic doodad, a coin, or whatever, along with a plea to send a donation.

The strategy the charity is employing is twofold: some confused old people and idiots will think they’re required to send a donation in exchange for the junk, and some others will feel compelled to send a donation because they would otherwise feel guilty about accepting something for nothing from a charity.

I call these “guilt mailings.”

(Interestingly, the UK’s Institute of Fundraising says they’re a no-no (page 8): “Fundraising organisations OUGHT to be able to demonstrate that the purpose of the enclosure was to enhance the message and/or the emotional engagement in the cause and not to generate a donation primarily because of financial guilt or to cause embarrassment.”)

I know what the senders of these mailings are trying to do, and I know it’s slimy, so I’m completely immune to their efforts to generate guilt.  Not only that, but rather than prompting me to donate, guilt mailings tend to have the opposite effect — I tend to put any charity which uses them onto my “do not donate” list for good.  If the freebie is useful, I go ahead and use it without any qualms at all.  I’m heartless about it… when they send reply envelopes with stamps on them, I cut off the stamps and use them to send my own letters, just on principle.

I thought by now I’d seen it all, but I received in the mail today the guilt mailing to beat all guilt mailings, from St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota:

(click for larger image)

(click for larger image)

What have we got here?  Taking it from the top:

  1. The envelope in which everything was packaged.
  2. A big card with a pretty picture and “Special Holiday Gifts for YOU from the Lakota children!” printed on it, with a ribbon, two bows, and a retractable ball-point pen taped to it.
  3. Twenty-four personalized address labels and six gift stickers, with “What shall I bring to the Lord, the God of heaven, when I come to worship him? – Micah 6:6″ on the back of them.  Oh, I don’t know, how about a retractable ball-point pen and some personalized address labels?
  4. The pitch letter about the poor Lakota Indian children (one of them with the fictional name “Emily Fire Cloud”; oh, it’s just too trite for words!) that St. Joseph’s wants you to help them missionize.
  5. Notepad (not personalized; cheapskates!) with the same bible quote on the back of it.
  6. The first of eight rather fancy Christmas cards with envelopes.
  7. Reply card and return envelope.
  8. More cards and envelopes, and finally, a piece of wrapping paper.

Imagine my surprise (not!) that the American Institute of Philanthropy has not issued a rating to this charity.  They are a religious organization and therefore exempt from reporting laws, and they declined the AIP’s requests for information that would enable them to issue a rating.  The BBB Wise Giving Alliance says that St. Joseph’s fails to meet three of the 20 standards they use to rate charities.  And if you donate to St. Joseph’s, they’ll sell your personal information to make more money off of you.  And let’s not forget about those messy allegations of abuse at the school.

Here’s my personal rating for St. Joseph’s: a big, fat, F.

UPDATE: The only sign of any organization other than St. Joseph’s on any of the materials enclosed in the mailing is this tiny logo on the back of the greeting cards, enlarged here for readability:


Googling for “reproducta” takes you to, and the “For Fundraising” box on Reproducta’s home page takes you to  Judging from the content on the latter site, this mailing was probably produced by Quadriga Art, Inc.

UPDATE [April 5, 2011]: It turns out that Quadriga Art, Inc. does not exactly have a stellar record. According to the American Institute of Philanthropy, at least two different charities for which Quadriga did fundraising, Disabled Veterans National Foundation and SPCA International, paid Quadriga so much for its services that they ended up in major debt to Quadriga, i.e., Quadriga charged them significantly more than they raised, to the tune of millions of dollars. Furthermore, at least one and perhaps both of these charities had contracts with Quadriga which required that their debt to Quadriga be paid off before they could use a single cent of donations for the services their charities were actually supposed to be providing. By utilizing Quadriga’s services, St. Joseph’s has affiliated itself with a fundraising company which thinks nothing of ripping off charities, and puts itself in the company of charities which are at best mismanaged and at worst fraudulent.

UPDATE [December 4, 2011]: Check out the dream-catchers (remarked upon by several people in comments below) that are currently being included in the guilt mailings from St. Joseph’s (click for a full-size image):

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261 Responses to “The most obscene “guilt mailing” I’ve ever seen”

  1. Toni says:

    I have been receiving the same mailings for a couple of years now. They are so beautifully packaged, but I just don’t buy it. I have never donated to St. Joseph’s Indian School and plan to keep it that way. Is there any way to put a stop to this, maybe a sort of do-not-mail registry? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  2. John Broughton says:

    Anyone considering donating should look at the 2013 financials at the website (under “About Us”). For the year ending June 30, 2013, revenues exceeded expenses by more than $18 million. Investment income earned was more than $5.6 million.

    Unfortunately the organization doesn’t seem to want to disclose its balance sheet, but if its investments earned 5.6% during the year, then it would have in excess of $100 million in investments. If the earning rate were much lower than 5.6%, it would have had significantly more money in investments. For example, if the rate of earnings were 3.8%, it would have had over $150 million in investments at year-end.

  3. Anonymous says:

    After reading the reply from the person in WI, it now dawns on me why I started receiving solicitations from Sacred Heart, because St. Josephs gave my name to them and is also part of them. I once bought a bunch of the inspirational books during the Christmas season. They came in handy for giving to drivers whom read them while waiting for their turn to release their deliveries. The drivers appreciated having something to keep busy with. I will no longer donate to St. Josephs after reading through the replies.

  4. Zap says:

    I found this site after receiving one of the upper mentioned mailings. After reading many posts here and elsewhere I concluded that most of the negative ones were written by people trying to find one good reason not to send money and still feel good about themselves.
    Some facts that I needed to verify stands out:
    There is a school, it is being run by a some (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, government – I don’t care) organization and some kids have place to stay and study.
    That school needs money to run and they are doing one hell of an effort to raise funds – more power to them.
    Many so called “charities” have much, much worse numbers (United Way anyone?), yet they’re not being questioned.
    My check is going out today.

    • jik says:

      … most of the negative ones were written by people trying to find one good reason not to send money

      Actually, many different, legitimate reasons not to donate to St. Joseph’s have been documented here.

      … and still feel good about themselves.

      My wife and I give a lot of money to charity. I suspect many of the other people who comment here do as well. I don’t need to invent reasons not to donate to St. Joseph’s or any other charity to “still feel good about myself.”

      That school needs money to run and they are doing one hell of an effort to raise funds – more power to them.

      First of all, the school has a huge surplus. They don’t need any money from donors to continue running.
      Second, one of the many aforementioned reasons not do donate to St. Joseph’s is that much of the money they raise through these solicitations goes to things other than the school, e.g., building retirement homes for priests, and nothing about this is mentioned in the solicitations.

      Many so called “charities” have much, much worse numbers (United Way anyone?), yet they’re not being questioned.

      This is a stupid, pointless, red herring. This blog posting and the comments about it have nothing to do with United Way or any other charity. They are about St. Joseph’s. Whether or not people here have bad things to say about donating to St. Joseph’s has no bearing on whether they would say similar things about United Way or any other charity. Whether or not people here choose to donate to St. Joseph’s has no bearing on whether they choose to donate to United Way or any other charity.
      The logical conclusion of your specious argument is that we cannot talk about St. Joseph’s unless we at the same time talk about every single other charity that is not worthy of our support. That’s laughably, transparently absurd.

  5. truth says:

    Just how are a board of directors, all white Catholic, who send Chinese made “dream-catchers” stickers, cards, notepads, and other junk trinkets—how are these people preserving Lakota heritage?

    Lakota heritage, I assure you, never included Catholic/Christian indoctrination, the English language, or mass-produced Chinese-made “crafts.”

    I received this and more in one guilt mailing and I am always fascinated by the strategies used by such scammer fund raisers.

    First red flag, of course, is the amount of junk included in a “gift” mailing. This is what they are spending their funds on?

    Second red flag is the pathetic phoney mass-produced/printed generic “personalized letters” (Dear- Your Name Here) supposedly “written” by appreciative kids who send glowing reports about how much they love everything and giggle all day long with all the other happy kids who love their beds and priests and food and how they sleep so soundly and everything is absolutely perfect! (I think these letters may be mass-produced in China as well)

    Third red flag is the picture of the board of directors at the “Lakota” school…with the exception of one women, all others look to me to be old obese bald white men. These are the “preservers” of the Lakota children’s heritage?
    Your mass-produced Chinese trinkets and chritian propaganda is going out with today’s trash.

    The Jesuits who founded St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation (1886) and Holy Rosary Mission at Pine Ridge (1888), for example, established mandatory boarding schools for the Lakota children where they would be severely corporally punished for speaking their native language.

    I leave you with a quote from Lakota Professor Dr. Franci Washburn who has a touch of sarcasm–

    “”It seems that Lakota people–and Indian people in general– are not authorities on their own languages, culture and spirituality. Only white people can say whether we are even literate. This problem is more than just a lack of respect for the Native American’s authority on their own language and culture,… but it promulgates the assumption that Native people are not only non-literate, but illiterate, even in our own languages. it seems ironic to me that some white people ignorantly assume that Native Americans are ignorant” (Washburn)”

    Oh, I’m sorry, what, you give the children a yearly “pow wow?”

  6. K. Gosz says:

    I’m writing this for my mother who donated to St. Joseph’s Indian School for many years. She has been dead for 16 years and now I’m still getting “guilt packages,” even though I’ve never sent them any money. I object to guilt trip organizations who use my money so foolishly. I want my charitable donation to go to the cause itself. I just got the most wasteful mailing yet – fancy birthday cards in cellophane wrappers, return address labels with my mother’s name (so useful), the inescapable dream catcher, note pads and so on. What a waste. If you, as a Catholic, feel guilty about not sending a charitable donation to St. Joseph’s Indian School, send the money instead to Catholic Relief Services which has an excellent reputation and never sends me anything I don’t want – not even multiple solicitations.

  7. K Mullin says:

    I have donated to St. Joe’s for years, but I received a letter this year 2013 from Fr Anthony who expressed his anger that I did not sign over my small savings to the school. I was shocked to receive such a letter. I did not keep this letter, because I was angry. I will not donate to this school anymore. I wish I still had the letter to show others,

  8. Janice says:

    I was just going to send in another cheque. have been sending donations for a number of years now, but was just inclined to look them up. found this. i’m struggling to believe that it’s that bad, but i’m skeptical enough to heed these words and continue to look into it. i have a PILE of stuff i’ve received them throughout the year. i want to believe the best, but in this corrupt world i have a healthy respect for seeking the truth.

  9. Norm Oliver says:

    I work at St.Joseph Indian School in residential care for high school Native American young men. I know first hand what a great work is being done to benefit the 200 students attending thier. The false information I’ve read on this website is proof that you shouldn’t believe everything you read or hear. So don’t take my word for trueth either, come see for yourself the trueth and good stewardship of donations given for the boys and girls at St. Joseph Indian School. We would welcome the opportunity to meet you.


    • jik says:

      What information here are you alleging is “false”?
      If you work at St. Joseph’s, why was your comment posted from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?
      Do you think that being unable to spell simple words like “there” and “truth” makes it more or less likely that people will take your words seriously?

    • Karen d says:

      Hi “Norm”. Not only did my mother send money every year but she also took the time to carefully pack up boxes and boxes of brand new stuffed animals for the younger children and NEVER got one single reply or thank you. She is in her 80′s. We will never ever donate to your organization again.

  10. a former student says:

    I went to st joes my 8th grade year Not once had we the children made anything to send in the mail to the donors. Yes it’s a nice place for kids to be BUT the workers there go thru all the mail and donations and pick what they want then give the school the left overs.. And the st joes thrift store.. hmm all the donations are donated so why are they marked high considering its all donated and I have had friends work at the school and were forced to write in a little kid handwriting asking for donations because a fire burnt down a building!! Look over the hill there is a million dollar home for the priest I can go on and on but one more thing.. they rarely employ native Americans hmmm…

    • Sharon says:

      I would like to know why you said, “Yes, it’s a nice place for kids to be….”
      Why is it a nice place for kids to be?

  11. Walter E. Strong says:

    I’ve made regular donations to St. Joseph’s Indian School over the years but after reading this I’m done. I had a $35 donation ready to mail but shredded it. Too bad, I’m sure there are lots of native American kids who need the support.

  12. smb12321 says:

    This is a real dilemma. It may make us feel good not to give them a “dime” but how does that help the kids? The trouble is one can always find a reason for not giving (I have not decided yet).

    The 30% is high, the package is absurd but that does not mean it’s evil. In other words, I’m not refusing to give because the gifts are nuts. I’ve investigated charities where the recipients received less than 30%!!

    • jik says:

      If you want to help disadvantaged Native American children, there are many charities to choose from. You don’t have to give to a charity with as many questionable practices as STJO.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well, here’s the problem. You are paying money to a school that helps Lakota children. That is correct. I have children who attend this school and they are doing much better than they would be here on the rez.

    that being said, my son called me last night and was telling me that some of the kids were taken to Hooters over the weekend on a school trip. That’s where your money is going. And don’t send cash. They take change and instead of depositing it they use it in the soda machines. My girl works up there and has seen it happen!

    yeah, it’s a good school. but there is no leadership. If they are letting things like this happen, they need to straighten it out.

  14. Contributer to SJIS says:

    I have given to St. Joseph’s Indian School many times over the years. This year I was on vacation in South Dakota during the time of the Annual Pow-Wow at the school. I was very impressed with the school. The students come from broken homes, of which there are many on the reservations. They live in beautiful housing at the school, 12 students per resident, with 2 “house mothers” in each residence. The campus was beautiful. The kids were amazing. They are taught to honor their Native American heritage. The Lakota Sioux language will now be offered at all public schools in the State due to the Governor signing a bill into law recently. The students perform in native costumes at the pow-wow, which has been an annual event for 37 years. there were over 400 supporters attending the pow-wow this year–a record number. There were cultural demonstrations held at the Akta Lakota Museum on the campus. The museum is a celebration of Native American heritage and tells the true, un-whitewashed history of Native American history. By educating the students and providing them with a safe environment, they will hopefully be more successful in life and can break the cycle of poverty for their families.

    The school contracts with an outside fundraising company which sends out the mailings. The “gifts” sent in the mailing are not from the school itself, and obviously are not made by the kids.

    I encourage all of you to really do your own checking on charities and do not believe everything you read online. I, for one, will continue to contribute to St. Joseph’s.

    • jik says:

      Most of the complaints that have been written about here have nothing to do with what you wrote above. Everything you wrote could be true, and the complaints would still be valid.

      • MJB says:

        I have lived in Chamberlain SD for over 30 years and can tell you the school is a good thing for the children. I have never heard of any abuse. I don’t know about their fund raising methods, but know they provide housing, food, education, etc. for Native American children. It may not be perfect, but it by no means a scam. I think it is a blessing for the children.

    • a former student says:

      well I feel sorry for you.. you sound like you are reading one of their brochures !! And I bet u even got to meet the priest at the pow wow huh! haha funny I have never meant him once when I went to school there .. ” oh wait im a girl not a little boy so he probably wasn’t interested in meeting me !

      • Shelly Dreier says:

        At this point, I question whether you are really a former student. This person said that they live in Chamberlain and they were giving their opinion and you make fun of them!

  15. ferde says:

    jik, your most telling remark in this whole blog is “I don’t need to visit the school….”( yes, only slightly out of context but very revealing of your own attitude). I have learned a variety of items about their fundraising costs which I am checking out. For this, I thank you. Meanwhile, I attempt to give to worthwhile organizations which, near as I can determine, do with their funds exactly what and/or whom they say they aid.

    • jik says:

      Yes, my “attitude” is that I don’t need to visit SJIS because the complaints that have been outlined here have nothing to do with anything I would learn by visiting the school.

  16. Nicole says:

    Yesterday, I received this donation package in the mail with both of my grandparent’s names on it. They died quite a few years ago.
    Anyway, the dreamcatcher is a joke and is clearly not made by anyone who knows anything about traditional dreamcatchers. I think it’s absurd that they’re begging for money but clearly have enough to send you all of these extravagant return labels and such. Also, I live in Franklin, WI and I know the priests of the “Sacred Heart” who run this school in South Dakota. I can guarantee that many, many of these priests are/were child molesters. This place is a government Indian boarding school…basically a concentration camp for children. It may not be as bad as it was in the past, but I know how the Catholic church and the government work together…ESPECIALLY when it comes to non-white people! It’s not pretty.

    • Jimmy says:

      what a lot of rubbish, hatchet job … I’m ashamed I am even responding to such utter nonsense – but someone must. A “concentration camp” … please … you should be ashamed.

  17. Marianna Steel says:

    I gave to St. Joe’s for over 20 years and had written my WILL so everything I had would go to them. I am changing my WILL, leaving them out entirely, and I no longer donate to them. I got tired of all the trinkets and am very leery of what the school is all about besides making huge profits by causing people to feel guilty.

  18. JL says:

    I received the gift packet from St. Joesph’s. I also received letters from several( 7-10) other charities all with in a couple weeks of each other.

    I gave to a well known charity and they had to have sold/passed on my name and address. My mistake. I have been very good about not giving out my address.

    I feel stupid for giving now.

  19. mamajana says:

    I can recall that several years ago there was an investigation into allegations that a priest was sexually abusing these kids. The case was recently thrown out of the Supreme Court because it had exceeded the statute of limitations. Here is the link to the story:

    • Vince says:

      Hi – This statute of limitations trick is what they’ve been relying on for 50 years. The scum-bag Pope that just retired did so in large part because they had his fingerprints all over the documentation explicitly outlining HOW to run the clock out to avoid judgments. Them making him the Pope speaks volumes about what these “Catholics” are really all about. They all knew he showed them how to avoid billions in judgments and some say he was rewarded. I don’t know about that. I do know that they seem to value their money more than the souls of those destroyed by the pedophile rapists. I can speak on this because I’m a recovering Catholic and and I was raped by the priests as well. V

      • BonitaS says:

        I’m so sorry for your pain and what you say you have gone through at the hands of Catholic priests. I pray for your healing and that you will not give up on the church completely. Abuse is not confined to the Catholic Church, however, and is rampant wherever there are sick people…and the world is full of them…in churches, sports, and maybe right down the street. God Bless..

  20. Tina says:

    So Thankful for reading you alls comments.. I have decided that I am not going to send any money.., was honestly going to write a check for $35.00. $8. To help provide meals, $12. To help provide bedding and linens, and $15. To help provide clothing.. Soo Thankful for able to see people’s comments, and a Big “Thank You” to Mr. David Fitzpatrick, CNN Investigative producer who Searched the story about St. Joseph’s and their Fundraising vendor…

  21. Denise Mancini says:

    After receiving my most recent dreamcatcher, I noticed it said “made in China”. I emailed them and asked why because I assumed (incorrectly) that these dreamcatchers were made by the children. I was told it is more economical to get them from China because of the quantity they have to purchase.

    I also resent these charities that send you unsolicited stuff that usually goes in the trash. Such a waste of money. After reading the comments on here, I shall start sending my money to a local food bank.

  22. Jen says:

    Ha, I was just about to write a check, glad I followed my hunch to check them out online. Thanks for the info. Tore up the check and will ignore any further mailings from them.

    And I have to say I feel it is just plain wrong for children to be taken away from their parents, unless they are in a very abusive situation.

  23. phyllismurphy says:

    I am a long time contributor to Lakotas due to a niece and nephew now in their fifties who have spent their careers as house parents to several Lakota children…How disappointing to know that the St. Joseph group as most, seem rotten and decadent in their disposition of donations..Have always been suspicious as I worked for American Cancer Society years ago when my husband was dying of cancer..This was in Illinois and the services were a joke and would not allow any donations to this organization at his death. worked in medical clinic fifties and sixties, and collected door to door for leukemia and others until a newspaper article came out the director of Leukemia was paying herself ridiculous salary, paying for her maid and living quite high on the hog while I had a little patient dying of cancer and his parents with 5 othe kids were almost destitute. We were never able to get any benefits for this family for my precious patient so we wrote off the bill but my careful observation and war on these money gathering mongrels has been going on a long time…will never donate again…thank you! Am also blessed with Indian blood from Dad’s side and other relatives cherokee including a son from first marriage..lived in Arizona and visited Navajo reservations as my bro was married to a Navajo…poverty and deprivation was disgusting when I think this was their land and why would they be put on reservations and not slaves and other invaders….??????

    • LaTeasha101 says:

      I agree this was there land.. However, your comment about the invaders was a bit much We all know who the true invaders along with stilling the land from the Indians, kidnapping free humans trafficking them to this land HISTORY HAS ALREADY TOLD THE STORY…. Indians weren’t the only one’s to get SCR*WED—-

      • jik says:

        What the heck are you talking about?

        • Jim D says:

          If my history lessons were correct, the indians invaded the Americas after the last ice age and then came the Vikings followed by the Europeans and everyone else. If LaTeasha is refering to Africans that were sold by fellow Africans to greedy white human trafficers, she is somewhat correct about implying that many races have been “screwed.” But, if they hadn’t she might be living in an African hut dodging lions. We have all made mistakes. Learn!!!

  24. Jacke says:

    thank’s for first thought to was this is so nice I should send something for there effort..but thank goodness I am not that stupid because then I thought they should only waste all this if you donate is probably some christian group..thank’s for posting some good info and taking you time

  25. Lewie says:

    I fell into this guilt syndrome and eventually sent them sonething … But tell me – What do they do for the Children ? Do they not do good for them ? Where does the money go ? How do you know ?

    • jik says:

      Whether or not schools like St. Joseph’s are “good” for the children, for Native American culture, etc., is a matter of some debate.

      But that’s hardly the only issue. There are plenty of other reasons not to donate to St. Joseph’s, as explained in the blog posting and all the comments. For example: they don’t meet minimum standards for charities; they refuse to release detailed financial statements; they use guilt mailings; and some of the donations whose donors think is going to help the kids actually goes to pay for things like retirement homes for priests and nuns.

      • Nicole says:

        Absolutely! I know the priests of the Sacred Heart who own this school. Their main “priest factory” is right down the road from me here in Franklin, WI. Let me tell you, they’re living large here. Pretty sure this is where your money is going if you donate to St Josephs AKA Franklin Wisconsin Priest Factory. LOL

  26. ROLAND says:


  27. Emily says:

    Glad I came across this when I did, I had the check written out and the envelope sealed… I will be shredding it now. Waste of a stamp and return label. Bummer.

    • Nord says:

      I just got one too. Never asked for it either.
      Hum – I wonder who really gets this money.
      Just think….if you send them a check – they have all
      the personal information about you that they need.
      Wonder who they sell your personal information to?
      Who are “they” anyway?

    • Anonymous says:

      My mom has been supporting one child for years now, I imagine he us in his 30′s by now! She continues to send money and I am also so upset with this organization and all the other scummy so- called “charities” leeching off senior citizens.I am attempting to remove her name from this organization and others, but it is very difficult. Does anyone have any ideas? My mom is good hearted, but memory is going and so is some of her reasoning.

      • Kara says:

        Unfortunately if she keeps sending hem money that is easier said than done. :( Groups like this do NOT respect wishes not to get solicitations (especially if it comes from someone other than the person writing the checks) if they get one dollar more than what it costs them.

        After getting one of their mailings I wrote a REALLY scathing letter. A few months later I got another mailing. It was probably the fact that I had ignored two mailings in a row that did it more than the letter as they had plenty of time between the first and second to remove me. I simply was not cost effective.

        Is there any way you can convince her not to give her payment information (checks or credit card) to anyone calling themselves a charity without talking to you first? Yes, I know it is easier said than done.

        Good luck!

        • jik says:

          Unfortunately if she keeps sending hem money that is easier said than done. :( Groups like this do NOT respect wishes not to get solicitations (especially if it comes from someone other than the person writing the checks) if they get one dollar more than what it costs them.

          This has not been my experience. The vast majority of charities I’ve contacted and asked to be removed from their mailing lists have complied.

          You’re right that they might be less likely to comply if someone other than the recipient makes the request, but there’s a simple solution for that: make the request in the name of the person you’re trying to unsubscribe.

          • Cheri says:

            My parents donated for years. They stopped three years ago, Both are now dead. I continue to get calls and mail. I have notified them repeatedly, via phone and letter, that the donors are deceased. The junk continues to come. I’m sure the telephone solicitors don’t take us off their list. Evidently the mail request was thrown away, too. It all goes into our recycling bin. Eventually it will stop coming to me (I inherited the house). I can change the phone number but why should I?

      • Anonymous says:

        When you receive a package/letter, mark it return to sender and mail it.

        • Kathy says:

          I tried that, and unfortunately it didn’t work. I sent probably 10 to 12 solicitations from charities to the post office to return to sender, and was told that it is not possible to do because it is a non-profit organization.
          They probably didn’t pay postage in the first place.
          By the way, thanks for the warning! I got my St. Joseph envelope just last week.

          • jik says:

            You’re correct that bulk-mail pieces are discarded by the post office rather than returned to the sender if they are refused by the recipient. That’s one of the reason why the bulk-mail rate is cheaper than first-class.

            However, you’re not correct that they didn’t pay postage in the first place. They did, just less than you or I would pay to mail a letter, or a bank would pay to mail a credit-card statement, since they certainly want it to be returned to them if it’s undeliverable.

            If you don’t want charities to send you mail, you have to tell them. I’ve written about this before.

      • mamajana says:

        I have a colleague whose late mother-in-law was thousands of dollars in debt to charities, magazine subscription companies, etc. Finally the family contacted these vermin and threatened to file a lawsuit and notify the BBB and any other entities they could think of. They then took control of the mother’s finances. That was the end of that!

      • Nicole says:

        Unfortunately, your mother’s money has been going to the priests of the Sacred Heart this entire time. They own this school even though their main “priest factory”, so to speak, is right here in Franklin, Wisconsin. Let me tell you, your mother has made them a beautiful retirement building and a massive church. …I’m sorry. Good luck with your situation, however.

  28. Rilla says:

    Well I’m definitely glad I decided to do a little research before sending them $$$. Got a dreamcatcher plus a bunch of little notebooks etc too, and thought it was a good cause :(

    • julie says:

      my nanny was fullblood Cherokee n my dads dad was English and chiricahua apache a lot of Indians and mixed people in my family we are fortunate neither my moms mom or my dads dad ever lived on a reservation I do know people who do or have and what ive seen of the 2 where I went my heart broke and this we got in the mail tonite broke it some more not all Indians drink or do drugs or beat their kids or are awful in anyway our people face a lot of prejudice letters like this don’t help and there are kids who need help need school to also be taught selfpride proud of their people and know their customs but these so called helpers I guess idk a name except theyre full of it my heart breaks when I think of how our people were and are still lied to the whole reservation needs help the people who con people out of their money we are blessed by the people who will help but it goes in the pockets of crooks now what are they teaching our kids?i had to research this site before we send the 35$ im so glad I did sad too cause I do want to help native kids I just felt it that something wasn’t right how do we know how to help unless we go to a reservation ourselves and talk to the people ourselves ive always wanted to win a lot of money and sponsor some indian kids for the native American scholarship fund im frustrated I was already to write that 35$ check now im hurting for the kids shame on u crooks u know who u are and God is not pleased with u

      • Kara says:

        One of the things I yelled at them about was that they said it was so bad there so their ‘solution’ was to take the children away from their families.

        There are some good charities out there. My favourite is One Spirit but there are others. Whichever you pick research them as there are a LOT of false ones out there.

        Another option is to do something like help schools and such on the reservations. Look at and you will see a lot of schools asking for books and pencils and such. Not exactly things with a high resale value so I am less concerned that the money will be used inappropriately.

  29. Dinara says:

    Darn I ven sending them money, the guilt mail really got me, Im a sucker when it comes to children , I just go an envelope with a calendar labels and a key ring dream catch . Im so disappointed, is there anyone honest in this world anymore, this is so sad :(

    • Gloria Hensel says:

      Yeah, Dinara, me too. I was just going to donate to them for the first time, feeling guilty because I’ve received things from them over the past couple of years. I’m sad too.

      • Doris says:

        I just received the same package today. I was going to send a contribution but decided to search on the internet. I, too, am glad that I did this before sending money. I always feel guilty when i use things sent and not respond with a check. I never thought that information from my check could be used to their benefit. I agree with Dinra when she asked “is there anyone honest in this world any more, this is so sad”.

      • mamajana says:

        I sent them money for several years, but I was tired of getting the “thank you” gifts they sent out. One was a cheap “Indian” blanket. I finally wrote and asked them not to send me any more “gifts.” I was giving from my heart and didn’t want them spending my donation on trinkets. After that I stopped sending money and started sending gifts instead. Although they ask for money, I know there are other things the kids need so I send toiletries and snacks and when I travel I keep the little samples and mail out a huge basket at Christmas time.

  30. Pat B says:

    Dear Anonymous,
    I’m a teacher too, and I feel what you’re saying. You are the boots on the ground with the kids in a daily basis.
    The part that contributors want to know is how much of every dollar reaches you and the kids… and how much goes to overhead and the fundraising company. That’s the Catch22. I don’t want to support the fundraisers and have them ripping of most of what I send for the kids. I know the thousands of dollars I spend on my students. I wouldn’t want it being skimmed off by the middlemen.
    If you can get to the higher ups, ask about transparency and getting listed on some of those charity rating sites. The machine in the finance office will most likely blow you off. .. but you will have tried.

  31. Mike says:

    I am not a stranger here. With all those fat mailings I do have a growing concern about efficiency of this charity. There is no info on Charity Navigator. So I am trying to get some here.
    I would not call it a scum, but it looks likely that people, who run fundraising, don’t respect donors.
    I will postpone my future donations until the charity becomes more transparent.

    • Carol says:

      I should have researched St. Joseph’s before sending off a donation (my second), my bad! It won’t happen again. We all like to think only of the good people do, until we get kicked in the stomache. From now on I will send only to Red Cloud…they never solicit. I’m not a stupid person, and why I caved in is still a puzzle to me. This is a lesson learned.

  32. Kay Lilland says:

    Part of Indian culture is to be responsible of natural resources. All the items that are mailed are irresponsible use of paper, glue, twine. That fleece blanket sent several year ago……I used it as part of a quilt I made for my grandson.
    But there is nothing perfect about our society nor about human nature. Some give, some take, some try to give but fail.

  33. Sarah says:

    Well – What I can say is that I am adopting a Lakota child. We keep in contact with their family who lives on the reservation (which is less than 30 miles from St. Joseph’s Indian School by the way. Honestly – their family is not interested in teaching them culture so I have used resources from this school to do this. The people there are willing to help the kids that go to school there and the Lakota kids that don’t. Do I like the mailings – no I dont. I wish that this was something they would change. But do I think the school helps people – absolutely. I know that an aunt who is raising my child’s brother is looking at placing him at St. Joseph’s. She feels that it is the best way to help him find a consistent role model and stay in touch with his culture. I don’t agree with everything they do – but it is not a scam. There are real people there with real intentions of helping the Lakota people.

  34. Anonymous says:

    As a staff member at St. Joe’s I can assure you that Native American culture is at the top of the list of what the children are taught here. As for the comments that this is just some charity, let me explain something as nicely as I can. We house, feed, clothe, and educate approximately 200 Native American children here from grades 1 through 12. The money goes to them. It’s not some charity that takes your money and distributes it to god knows where. It goes to the electric bills ($250k+ to heat the school for a winter). Food. Clothes. Classroom materials. Houses. Staff… So before you start making comments about something you don’t understand, you might want to do some research. Try to remember kids, everything you read on the internet is NOT true.

    • jik says:

      Nothing that you’ve written addresses in any concrete way any of the questions and complaints raised here about the school’s fundraising practices or about how the money is spent. I am not going to bother to reiterate those questions; if you are actually in a position to respond concretely to them, you can read them in the blog posting and comments as easily as I can.

      Here’s one hint, though: telling us how some of the money is spent, as you’ve done with your examples, does nothing to satisfy our concerns about how all of the money is spent, concerns that are explained quite clearly and explicitly in other comments.

      • Anonymous says:

        Jik. I apologize for misreading. Here is a link to the 2012 financial report which is freely available from the school.

        I do see a lot of specific questions in here that I am not sure I can answer to the satisfaction of the community here only because I am not involved in the financial end of the school. I can tell you though that staff here is not paid crazy amounts of money. My own salary speaks to that. I will try to read through some more and answer some specifics as I am able. As I also do not work in the donation/fundraising area I cannot speak to the kinds of mailings that are sent out. But I can tell you that the children genuinely appreciate the contributions and what it provides. I wish that the outbound mailers included more about the actual children, but I’m not 100% sure exactly what goes out.

        • Kara says:

          /me wonders how much of the board of directors are natives but whatever

          Anyway, I will let others have fun responding to the “financial report” bereft of details and bring up some other questions. It is a flyer … my proxy materials and fund updates send me bigger books that that!

          Please explain your fundraising. A good rule of thumb is the heavier the solicitation mailing the more dubious it is as a good place to put your money. For example, you claim about 1/3 of your revenue as the cost of fundraising and such … that is pretty high.

          You do not exactly have a great charity rating. Care to comment?

          How do you choose your materials to send, what pulls on heartstrings? If you knew *anything* about native culture and dreamcatchers you would not insult it by making a dreamcatcher out of chicken feathers,rubber bands, and cardboard tubes then sending it out with a debt attached to it.

          Schools near reservations, particularly religious ones, have a VERY bad history. Surely you know that. Guess what, maybe non-natives did not know such things a century ago but it is not hard to research any random topic quickly now with the web.

          I most likely got your mailings between of my zip code (not exactly a depressed area) and things like I was giving to a native american museum. I am guessing your org (or your fundraising org) was playing the odds and just hoping they would not reach someone who was a bit more knowledgeable on the topic than some random person around here.

    • Jim D says:

      Post a balance sheet for all to see , including for the IRS/FED and maybe more will be inclined to donate. I learned years ago, after requesting and receiving one from the Faternal Order of Police that greater than 80% of all funds went to salaries/accountants/advertising. <20% went to the cause. I stopped contributing.

  35. Lauree says:

    Gosh, I am so confused now: whom should I believe now? – I have been donating for years, written letters to inquire about the children being taught ” Indian ways”… but never received a reply to that. Just more requests to donate. Someone PLEASE tell me if they are truly legit!!!

    • Kara says:

      They are not. Well, technically they are a charity in the sense that they are a tax-exemt organisation. You might want to research other options, one I like is but just beware that a lot of places like the school will try to use sympathies to get at your cash.

    • Jim D says:


      Ask them to post a balance sheet for all to see , including for the IRS/FED and maybe more will be inclined to donate. I learned years ago, after requesting and receiving one from the Faternal Order of Police that greater than 80% of all funds went to salaries/accountants/advertising. <20% went to the cause. I stopped contributing.

  36. Sarah says:

    I’ve gotten it all… Dream Catchers, post cards, note pads, christmas ornaments, mailing labels and most recently a fleece blanket! I thought, gee… if they spent less on this mailing, they’d have more than what they are asking me for! Anyhow, glad I didn’t donate anything…

  37. Rich H says:

    The income for the school for the year was $56,396,226.00. As I understand it there are 250 kids that they are ‘taking car of’. This works out to $225,584.90 per child. Why all of the blogs one way or the other. Common since says this is a monumental scam. Someone is making a ton of money. You people are clueless. Give your donations to a real charity.

  38. Eugene Wedoff says:

    Here is a letter that I sent to St. Joseph’s School today, in response to the email from the school that I received yesterday, which began “This is your last chance to show your support to Lakota children this year: our deadline is midnight TONIGHT and we’re just $48,094 away from our goal!” and which stated, “Without your support, we cannot tend to the basic needs of Lakota children in such need.”

    “I want to let you know why I won’t be contributing to St. Joseph’s Indian School this year. Your letter to me says, ‘Without your support, we cannot tend to the basic needs of Lakota children in such need.’ But the 2011 financial report on your website shows that this is not true. That year, even with the cost of your fundraising ($16.6 million) at nearly 30% of the funds received ($56.4 million) and even with $4.8 million dollars of fundraising used for non-school purposes (Apostolate of Prayer Programs), you still ended the year with a surplus of $6.5 million. Together with the earnings on your investments ($15.5 million), your net income in 2011 was over $22 million. Your work that year for the basic needs of Lakota children was less than $13.2 million (with the balance of the Education, Residential and Cultural Programs ($11.5 million) being expended on Promotion of Lakota Cultural Heritage. And finally, with the addition of the $22 million in 2011 net income, your net assets at the end of the year were nearly $100 million, indicating that your investment income for 2012 will be substantially higher than in 2011–more than enough, without any additional contributions, to cover all of your student-related expenses.

    “So it’s obvious that my support is not needed to help you tend to the basic needs of Lakota children. Your school is substantially over-endowed, and your fundraising merely adds to your surplus. If the recipients of your fundraising efforts knew your actual financial situation, they–like me–would probably choose to give their donations to organizations that will use those donations directly to achieve the organizations’ professed goals, rather than to St. Joseph’s Indian School, which, already rich, will only grow richer with additional donations.”

    • Ann says:

      Great letter.

    • Wayne says:

      Thank you Mr. Wedoff for finally providing the information I was looking for on this site. I have received my 1st mailing from the school, and for various personal reasons I was very inclined to donate. Mr. Wedoff’s information has let me see my money is probably put to better use if I donate elsewhere.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I have been a victim of this scam. This information is useful. Every product they send is made in China.

  40. Joe says:

    The best one yet is the 2013 day planner with the bookmark coincidently placed on the “Estate planning” page. That made me furious. FU, St. Josephs.

  41. Bob Childree (Bob) says:

    Fundraising takes over $27,000,000 out of the annual revenue, leaving $26,000,000 to run a school for 200 kids. That’s a budget of $130,000 per child! Think what YOUR kid’s school could do with your gift instead. There are many good charities out there, but do check up on where you are giving if you are giving outside your home county. Always give at home first, but have some idea of how your money is being used even then. It appears that the St. Joseph’s Indian School has become big business, not just a charity as it was at one time.

  42. Sandra Ericson says:

    Think that I am of those one silly people who have contributed to their poor lakota children.. ..I have recieved many letters with stamps, self stamps, notepads… etc, etc.. even a digital counter.. Xmas stickers, Xmas name stickers… etc, etc..

  43. Dee says:

    I’m so glad I stopped here! I was contemplating sending a donation to this group, but wanted more info. I received the “2012 Christmas Appeal” which included:
    a Lakota Dreamcatcher Ornament (I noticed it was “made in China”)
    Holiday Notepads
    Holiday Gift Tags
    Gold Foil Address Labels
    Silver Foil Stationery Seals
    a “Certificate of Appreciation” for helping “bring the Lakota (Sioux) children a happier childhood and a brighter future!”
    a letter from Fr Stephen Huffstetter, SCJ that introduces me to “Emily”
    and the “2012 Christmas Appeal Gift Form”, with 3 “Gift Coupons” attached “To: A Lakota Child” and from (my name).
    Coupon 1: “$8 to help provide you with a CHRISTMAS DINNER”
    Coupon 2: “$12 to help provide you with a CHRISTMAS PRESENT”
    Coupon 3: “$15 to help provide you with CLOTHING”

    A nearly-successful guilt mailing, whereby I would have parted with $20 of my Social Security Disability income (donating the other $15 would mean going without one of my medications for one month). I thought that if they skipped all the guilt gifts they sent me, they would be able to afford to spend more on a child like “Emily”.

    Thank You for the warning!

    • Kara says:

      What is frustrating is all of this is distracting recourses that people could direct to efforts that would actually help people on the reservations.

  44. Duane says:

    If these “benevolent” entities wish to “help”, why do they not move to a location within the proximity of the children’s home? Why do they not allow the teachings of the heritage, the language, the spirituality, the culture of their people? Why are these places always trying to kill the Indian, save the child? One reason….money.

    Why prey on “extracting them from the horrors of poverty?” If those people were in fact doing the best for “them”, fix the poverty. Nope, can’t do that. This country must have a cause to repair in order to appear “as a benevolent country.” If there isn’t one, the government will create one…like create poverty, conditions to encourage alcoholism, etc, Then they can step in, and in a “for their own good” context, repair the problem by assimilation since the Indian way isn’t a good path….ours is. Makes me want to scream.

    • Monterey Bob says:

      Duane – what tribe or you with ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey Duane,
      We teach Lakota here. We have Inipis very frequently. We teach the spirituality and the heritage. We debunk the lies that are often taught in public schools about what we really did to the People. We aren’t killing the Indian as you so ignorantly put it. We are trying to preserve the culture, the heritage, and the language so THESE KIDS DON’T LOSE IT!!! Wake up. And it wouldn’t help to be in the proximity of the kid’s homes, because we service kids and families from all over the state. So where would you like us to move?

      • Kara says:

        So why do your materials specifically state that the children are in bad conditions (no duh to anyone familiar with the rez). Then say that you want to take the children away from all that. Instead of trying to improve the conditions they are in in the first place.

        Guess what? The Lakota culture is passed down from generation to generation. It is not something that is learned from books.

        Even if you are teaching it (let us assume you are for a moment) part of children learning it is *being around* elders and their community. You are causing a break in that.

        It is like trying to reproduce a computer without having an operating system. The result will *look* like a computer but strangely will not work like one.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, here’s my response to this. Cause it’s the truth. Lakota is not taught here. We are trying to preserve the heritage and culture by having the kids attend church. By teaching them the wrong histories. The financials show that last year we gave 11 million to cultural preservation. Really? Where? Not to these children here. Please, save your money. This school is a joke. I can’t say how I know specifically, just that I am a student. My grandmother told me that the school made over 10 million last year, has over 100 million in the bank. But it’s a non-profit? These numbers are available to the public on the website. Do your research, and make the right choice.

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