Help Stamp Out Junk Mail
Happy Junk Mail Awareness Week! It’s still on the horizon — Oct. 1 to 7 — but it’s never too early to start planning your festivities!
Unfortunately, Junk Mail Awareness Week isn’t intended as a celebration of the ways direct mail creates jobs, fuels economic growth and funds good deeds.
It focuses on the dark side, which, I have to admit, is considerable. According to 41pounds.org, the average U.S. adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail a year. It adds up to 4 million tons of mail, made from the pulp of more than 100 million trees. And 44 percent goes to the landfill unopened!
Nevertheless, direct mail is the lifeblood of many nonprofits. That’s why I hope those of us who rely on it will take this special week to become non-junk organizations.
But what is junk mail?
Junk mail is any mail that’s unwanted, out of context and irrelevant.
The thing that makes it junk is the lack of a meaningful connection to the recipient’s life. The most usurious credit card offer might not be junk mail for you, because it’s exactly what you want and need.
You see, junk mail doesn’t become junk until it hits a recipient’s mailbox. I can just see them: 62 billion pieces leaving the comfort of the lettershops where they were born, their inky, windowed little faces shining with optimism and dreams of greatness. They can hardly wait to be opened, read with relish and promptly responded to.
But for too many of them, something goes awry. When they reach their intended mailboxes, they’re tossed aside unopened or cursed before being torn in half.
To understand what makes direct mail transubstantiate into unwanted junk mail, let’s look at a typical donor we’ll call Mrs. Sample.
Mrs. Sample gets a lot of mail from nonprofit organizations. She doesn’t know why. She doesn’t want it. She thinks it’s a huge waste. But not all of it.