Posts Tagged ‘charity spammers’

Yad Sarah: Good work, bad fundraising

Monday, July 12th, 2010

I periodically post about organizations which can’t handle one of these two simple requests: (1) don’t spam me; (2) don’t send me junk mail. If an organization is incapable of implementing effective policies and procedures to accommodate these two straightforward requests from donors, they are probably also incapable of implementing effective, efficient policies and procedures for doing the work for which donors are sending them money.

I’ve had run-ins of varying magnitude about this with numerous organizations over the years. The ones that I post about here are the worst of the worst. They have either overtly refused to accommodate my requests, or claimed repeatedly, but falsely, that they had done so.

Today, I am forced to add Yad Sarah to this disreputable bunch. I am sorry to do this, because the work Yad Sarah claims to do is important, and because they appear to be respected by other organizations which I respect and tend to trust. However, after my experience with them, I must wonder how efficiently and effectively they use the money entrusted to them by donors to perform their mission.

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Lighthouse International: Yet another 2+ years of mailings after the first removal request

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

I just sent the following email message to Mark G. Ackermann, the President and CEO of Lighthouse International:

Dear Mr. Ackermann,

I am taking the unusual step of writing to you because my efforts to get this issue resolved “through channels” for over two years have failed.

In a nutshell, I have asked Lighthouse International to remove me from your postal mailing list six times since October 2007.  Since my first request, you have sent me eight mailings, the most recent received yesterday, November 25.

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American Foundation for the Blind (AFB): Lying, unrepentant spammers

Friday, November 13th, 2009

My wife and I have supported literally hundreds of charitable organizations over the years.  I donate on-line whenever possible, which means that many of these organizations have my email address.  The vast majority of them are smart and reputable enough not to send me bulk email I didn’t agree to receive, or at worst to unsubscribe me from their bulk mailings when I ask them to do so.

Alas, there are a few organizations whose bulk email practices are so disreputable, so shameful, so entirely unacceptable, that when all else fails, my only remaining recourse is to attempt to shame them into cleaning up their act, and to urge others not to support them financially until they’ve done so.

Today, I am forced to condemn the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to the charity spammers’ hall of shame.

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Operation Smile: Unrepentant, Egregious Spammers

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Operation Smile started spamming me in 2004 after I donated to them on-line and gave them my email address so they could send me a receipt.

They have sent me spam on November 5, 2004; December 22, 2004; January 11, 2005; December 7, 2005; December 20, 2005; March 8, 2006; May 11, 2006; May 28, 2007; and November 4, 2008.

I have complained to them about the spam on November 7, 2004; January 9, 2005; December 8, 2005; May 28, 2007, and November 4, 2008.  The one and only response I received was on January 11, 2005, when they apologized and claimed (falsely) that the spam would stop.

The American Institute Philanthropy gives Operation Smile a grade of rating of “D” (on an ABCDF scale).  In contrast, Smile Train, another charity which does similar work, gets a “B-” grade.

Because of their poor grade and their penchant for spamming, I strongly discourage people from providing any support, financial or otherwise, to Operation Smile.

Perkins School for the Blind: inveterate spammers

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

The Perkins School for the Blind used to be on the list of charitable organizations which my wife and I support. At some point I donated to them on-line through their Web site, providing my email address at that time so that they could send a receipt via email.

They subsequently used that address to spam me on May 30, 2007. I sent them a complaint in response about the spam on May 31, telling them that I gave them my email address so they could send me a receipt, not so that they could add me to bulk email lists, and that if they ever spammed me again I’d report them to the appropriate service providers and permanently remove them from the list of organizations which we support.

They did not respond to my complaint, and they spammed me again on June 14, so I sent them another complaint, informing them that I had, as promised, complained to their service providers and permanently removed them from our charitable giving list.

That message finally got a response on the same day which read in part as follows:

Please accept our sincerest apologies. While we are new to email messaging, we take spamming very seriously and in no way is it our intention to send unwanted emails to any of our constituents. Unfortunately, there was a communication breakdown and your request to be removed from our email list did not make it to the appropriate people. I assure you that you have been removed from our email list permanently. We are also working on a policy for the school to ensure that this does not happen again.

That’s fine as far as it goes, but unfortunately, they spammed me again today, January 31, 2008. Not only that, but they included the recipient list of the spam in the “To:” header of the email, thereby violating the privacy of the 986 Perkins supporters on the recipient list of that spam, and perhaps of even more people than that if they sent out multiple such messages.

Needless to say, I sent them a rather strongly worded complaint, indicating that I had reported the spam to their service providers and ending with this:

Please give me one good reason why I shouldn’t send email to the 985 other people whose addresses you exposed suggesting to them that they complain to you and to your service providers if they are as upset as I am about your spamming and your violation of their privacy (well, actually, there are only 979 other people for me to write to, since I’ve CC’d this message to your coworkers at Perkins who appeared on the distribution list).

Shame on you.

I got back an apology a few hours later from the individual at Perkins who had sent out the email, which read in part, “I realized that I made a huge error when I put everyone’s name in the `to’ field… there is noone to blame but myself and it shouldn’t reflect on the school.” Later in the day, another individual at Perkins actually called my house to apologize, but I wasn’t home to take the call and I frankly have no interest in speaking with them about this and have no intention of calling them back.

I don’t think they’re bad people. I don’t think they’re intentionally trying to send spam to people who don’t want to receive it. However, none of that changes the fact that people who can’t handle the mechanics of only sending bulk email to people who have asked to receive it, shouldn’t be sending bulk email, period.