Unsolicited Solicitations

Give to the charity of your choice. It’s the American way. And, boy, do we ever have choices

illustrations by ding koehler

You know how it feels: you go out to the mailbox hoping for a letter from your little camper in Maine and come back into the house with nothing but an armful of solicitations. Some you’ll respond to generously; most you’ll trash unopened. Some will show up again the minute you’ve sent off a check; others allow you a grace period.

In 1996, GREENWICH magazine made a study of these requests in a masochistic attempt to determine what it would cost if you gave the minimum suggested to each and every one that arrived in your mailbox that year. Mailbox only, not by phone or e-mail. At home, not office. We kept them in a kitchen drawer until it overflowed, then emptied it and listed them roughly by month. “Roughly” because by special permit, so many weren’t postmarked. Political appeals were broken out into a separate category.   

We did our best to de-dupe the list of repeaters, but if an organization had an annual drive, then a luncheon benefit, and then a car raffle, its name would appear three times. If a group hit you on national, state and local levels followed by the local giving a fundraiser dinner-dance, it would be listed four times. When no specific price tag was mentioned, we arbitrarily assigned $50; and we dubbed “priceless” (with no amount) the ambitious few interested in setting up charitable annuities. 

The grand total per person in 1996 came to a then eye-popping $30,066.55.

The piece turned out to be so popular that on January 1, 2010, we began to revisit the subject to see how things had changed in fifteen years. Then on New Year’s Day, 2011, we got out the calculator.


Abraham Lincoln Foundation (against “black liberals”)—$15
Adopt-A-Dog (Stay-at-Home benefit)—$100
Alzheimer’s Disease Research—$15
American Cancer Society (Riverside Drive)—$15
Americans for Immigration Control—$15
American Institute for Cancer Research (Riverside)—$5
At Home in Greenwich—$50
Breast Cancer Alliance (annual appeal)—$50
Bruce Museum Renaissance Ball in June—$750
Bruce Museum (sponsor Lincoln exhibit) — $500
CARE — $10
Garden Education Center of Greenwich—$55
Greenwich Adult Day Care dinner—$250
Greenwich Arts Council—$50
Greenwich Green & Clean—$50
Greenwich Library Peterson dinner (March)—$350
Greenwich Roundtable—$1,000
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum—$50
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (CT Chapter)—$6
March of Dimes—$6
National Right to Work Committee—$35
Palladium Museum (patron)—$200
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice—$75
Sea Research Foundation, Mystic Aquarium (Penguins)—$50
Tower of Hope—$25
USO of Metropolitan New York—$100
YWCA (BRAVA lunch)—$190
YWCA Old Bags Lunch patron (May)—$500

1000 Friends of Connecticut—$50
ACCION International (world poverty)—$25
American Cancer Society (New England Division)—$15
American Civil Liberties Union—$35
American Civil Rights Union—$20
American Parkinson Disease Assoc.—$15
American Red Cross International Response Fund (Haiti)—$30
American Red Cross, Greenwich Chapter (Red & White Ball)—$500
Americans for Immigration—$75  »
Amnesty International USA—$20
Avon Theatre Film Center (Red Carpet Gala)—$500
Born Free USA (Keep Wildlife in the Wild)—$15
Bureau of Land Management (Save the Mustangs)—$30
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (Vocal Rising Stars)—$75
Coast Guard Foundation—$25
Common Cause (lobbies vs. corporate democracy)—$20
Compassion & Choices (Choice & Care at End of Life)—$30
Connecticut Public Broadcasting (WNPR)—$200
Dana Farber Cancer Institute (Jimmy Fund)—$15
Family ReEntry & Fresh Start Enterprises (breakfast)—$50
Fairfield County Community Foundation (Women & Girls lunch)—$250
Feminist Majority Foundation (Campaign to help Afghan women)—$25
Foundation for International Community Assistance—$25
Freedom Alliance (Support Our Troops)—$25
Goodspeed Musicals—$50
International Planned Parenthood Federation—$35
Jane Goodhall Institute (for chimpanzees)—$15
Literacy Volunteers (Stamford/Greenwich)—$50
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)—$15
Planned Parenthood of SNE (April benefit lunch)—$250
Planned Parenthood of SNE (April benefit lunch patron)—$1,000
Princeton Class of 1949—$150
Project Return (Girls in Crisis) Birdhouse Auction—$200
Save the Children—$5
Special Olympics Connecticut—$50
United American Patriots Warrior Fund—$25
USA for UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency Darfur emergency)—$28
WNYC Annual Membership Drive—$36

Adopt-A-Dog Casino Night (April)—$100
Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (April benefit)—$250
Bill of Rights Institute—$100
Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich (annual appeal)—$100
Bruce Museum (Icon Awards in the Arts)— $300
Bruce Museum (annual giving)—$50
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History (El Arnold Wing)—$50
Caramoor (benefit evening)—$75
Caramoor (benefit chamber music concerts)—$100
Children’s Day School—$50
City of Hope—$50
Colonial Williamsburg—$35
Dispute Settlement Center (May Mexican Dinner Dance)—$125 ­
Doctors Without Borders—$35
Family Centers, Inc.—$50
Family ReEntry (annual appeal)—$100
Grace Notes (concert)—$50
Greenwich Adult Day Care (May lunch/fashion show)—$150
Greenwich Tree Conservancy—$40
Greenwich Youth Conservation Project—$100
Hathaway Brown School (annual fund)—$50
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (FC chapter gala)—$300
Kids in Crisis (annual fundraiser)—$10
Kids in Crisis (Hoedown benefit)—$500
League of Women Voters Education Fund (Washington, DC)—$50
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, CT Chapter—$6
National Multiple Sclerosis—$15
New York Pops (concert/dinner-dance benefit)—$500
Oxfam America (world poverty and injustice)—$25
Prison Fellowship—$41.40
Siberian Bridges—$50
Smile Train—$25
Special Olympics—$8.15
St. Luke’s LifeWorks—$99
TechnoServe (Business Solutions to Poverty)—$30
Union of Concerned Scientists (Environmental Solutions)—$35
USO (Washington, DC)—$10
Wounded Warrior Project—$10
Young Mariners Foundation of Greenwich (cocktails/auction)—$35
YWCA (annual appeal)—$100
YWCA (Inspiring Women book + late 2010 event)—$1,000
YWCA (Jester’s Ball March)—$400
YWCA (Jester’s Ball Journal Dedication)—$150
YWCA (Old Bags lunch, patron)—$500

Alley Cat Allies—$10
At Home in Greenwich—$50
Audubon (dinner Celebrating the Sound)—$500
Audubon (Celebrating the Sound Journal Dedication)—$150
Autism Speaks Golf Challenge (in June)—$1,950
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence—$100
Campaign to Save Social Security and Medicare—$10
CapitolWatch (Social Security Adjustment)—$24
Channel Thirteen (matching gift challenge)—$125
Children’s Day School (wine-tasting in May)—$50
Community Centers Inc. (May gospel evening)—$100
CT Against Gun Violence Education Fund—$25  »
Environmental Defense Fund—$15
Friends of Autistic People—$100
Front Range Equine Rescue (Colorado)—$32
God’s Love We Deliver—$50
Goodspeed Musicals Gala—$500
Goodspeed Musicals Gala Journal—$100
Greenwich Arts Council/Appraisers Institute of America—$100
Greenwich Land Trust (membership drive)—$100
Greenwich Music Festival (Tango into Spring)—$75
Greenwich Safe Cycling—$50
Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (Stephanie Mohr)—$50
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, CT Chapter—$6
Literacy Volunteers (Scrabble Fundraiser in May)—$175
National Assoc. Chiefs of Police (Riverside; disabled officers)—$15
National Audubon Society (Women in Conservation lunch)—$300
Room to Read, Greenwich Chapter—$25
SoundWaters Scholarship Fund—$50
Spirit of Hope (Liberation Programs May benefit)—$150
Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge—$25
Tower of Hope (Service Dogs gala)—$500
Waterside School—$2,500
World Wildlife Fund—$12
YWCA of Greenwich (Old Bags lunch)—$300

Acting Company (One Enchanted Evening benefit)—$500
Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy—$25
AMREF (African Medical & Research Foundation)—$35
Backcountry Jazz (education programs benefit)—$250
Bel Canto at Caramoor—$300
Cato Institute Sponsor—$100
Citizens for a Balanced Government—$100
Common Cause—$20
David Horowitz Freedom Center—$25
Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee—$25
Family Centers (June benefit)—$500
Greenwich American Legion Post #29—$50
Greenwich Family YMCA (Witherell Giving Society)—$100
Greenwich Historical Society (Historic Trust reception)—$2,500
Greenwich United Way (Community Notes newsletter)—$50
Help Hospitalized Veterans—$3
Hillsdale College Founders Campaign—$50
International Society for the Protection of Mustangs & Burros—$25
International Yacht Restoration School (Museum of Yachting)—$50
IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation)—$35
League of Women Voters of CT Education Fund— $50
Make-A-Wish Foundation—$25
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (Riverside)—$10
National Organization for Hearing Research Foundation—$100
National Organization for Women—$25
New York Community Trust—$50
Partnership for the Homeless—$80
Red Ribbon Foundation (November benefit, patron)—$1,500
Sound Beach Volunteer Fire Department—$50
Stamford Hospital—$35
United American Patriots Warrior Fund—$25

American Cancer Society (annual fund)—$15
Autism Speaks (Journal advertising June golf)—$1,000
Concerned Women for America (end homosexual teaching)—$30
Drug Policy Alliance (medical marijuana accessible)—$25
Feminine Majority Foundation—$10
Feminist Majority (Ellie Smeal)—$25
Food & Water Watch (food safety)—$20
Food Bank (of Lower Fairfield County)—$25
Greenwich Green & Clean (Hanging Basket)—$200
Greenwich Police Silver Shield (concert yearbook advertising)—$50
Interfaith Alliance (protecting faith and freedom)—$25
International Rescue Committee (refugees, etc.)—$25
Laurel House (mental illness)—$100
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk (Friends Society)—$1,000
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (Preview Antiques)—$200
National Assoc. Chiefs of Police (Riverside Area Annual Fund)—$15
National Right to Work Committee—$50 
Noah’s Ark Lost (saving animals)—$28
Rocky Mountain Institute—$25
Wellesley College (annual giving)—$50

American Legion (national)—$25
Conservative Caucus (campaign vs. multilingual America)—$1,000
Corporate Accountability International—$15
Federation for American Immigration Reform—$20
Front Range Equine Rescue (mustangs)—$25
Greenwich Country Day School (annual fund)—$50
Humane Society of U.S.—$5
National Outdoor Leadership School  (NOLS planned giving)—$50
National Partnership for Women & Families—$20  »
Orphan Acres (abused horses)—$25
Park Avenue Armory (inaugural gala Oct. 7)—$1,500
Ronald McDonald House New York (partner NY Pops) benefit—$500
Save the Children (charitable gift annuities)—priceless
Susan G. Komen for the Cure (breast cancer)—$25
Union of Concerned Scientists (global warming)—$25

American Indian Education Foundation—$52
Caramoor (annual membership)—$75
Cato Institute (Liberating the Future Campaign)—$100
Christian Seniors Assoc. (“alternative to far-left AARP”)—$15
Community Centers (annual giving)—$1
Community Answers (comedy night)—$60
Herreshoff Marine Museum (America’s Cup Hall of Fame dinner)—$25
Judicial Watch (ACORN)—$35
Judicial Watch (Illegal Immigration Impact Project)—$35
Maine Coast Heritage—$50
NARAL Pro-Choice America—$20
Senior Citizens League (Stop the Social Security Handout)—$10
William H. Goodspeed Society (Goodspeed legacy)—priceless

Americans United (for Separation of Church and State)—$25
Arch Street (October benefit)—$300
Boys Town (Christmas appeal)—$8
Breast Cancer Alliance (October luncheon benefit/fashion)—$500
Bruce Museum Circus Exhibition Committee of Honor—$500
Bruce Museum Dimension in Dining (benefit)—$850
Bruce (Museum) Circle membership (for both of us)—$2,000
Build the Dream National Memorial (Martin Luther King Jr.)—$25
Christian Appalachian Project—$33
Community Answers (annual appeal)—$35
Corporate Accountability International—$15
Family ReEntry (luncheon benefit)—$150
Feed the Children (CT Thanksgiving campaign)—$5
Goodspeed Musicals (annual membership)—$50
Greenwich Adult Day Care (annual appeal)—$50
Greenwich Hospital gala (patron)—$1,000
Greenwich Riding & Trail (October gala)—$375
Greenwich Symphony (October Wine & Cheese Festival)—$100
Hannah Giles Legal Defense Fund—$25
Heritage Foundation—$35
Immigration Watch (AIC)—$75
Impeachment Project (Conservative Caucus)—$10
Inner-City Foundation (benefit dinner)—$500
International Rescue Committee (Darfur and Chad)—$20
Liberation Programs (annual fund)—$100
National Audubon Society (Gulf Coast Recovery)—$1,000
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (art show)—$200
New York Pops (annual fund)—$100
Palladium Musicum—$125
Planned Parenthood SNE (October gala benefit)—$75
Planned Parenthood SNE (newsletter solicitation)—$50
Princeton University (CRUT annuity)—priceless
Project Vote Smart—$45
Prostate Cancer Foundation—$21
Red Ribbon Foundation (November gala)—$500
Save Ellis Island—$35
St. Joseph’s Indian School—$8
Transportation Assoc. of Greenwich (TAG) — $25
United Way Leadership Giving Program—$1,500
United Way (Sole Sisters Oct. party)—$100
U.S. English Inc.—$15
Waterside School (October benefit)—$150
Women for Women International—$20
Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund—$25
Young Women’s League of New Canaan (Kids in Crisis benefit)—$45
YWCA Greenwich (annual appeal)—$100

Abraham Lincoln Foundation—$15
Acting Company (NYC gala November)—$750
Anti-Defamation League (Ginsburg Award Reception)—$250
American Friends Service Committee (One Minute for Peace)—$35
Bruce Museum (family circus event)—$75
Campaign for Andover (NYC dinner December)—$75
Christmas on Round Hill—$50
Coalition for the Homeless—$18.90
Community Centers (Festive Giving Ritz gala)—$150
Connecticut Food Bank (Thanksgiving appeal)—$25
Greenwich High School Student Loan Fund—$25
Greenwich Hospital (gala)—$500
Greenwich Library (annual appeal)—$100
Gregg Smith Singers—$25
Meals on Wheels—$50
Middle American Institute (immigration)—$15
Mountain Institute—$150
National Association for Gun Rights—$25
National Audubon Society (general appeal)—$1,000
National Legal and Policy Center—$20  »
National Museum of African American History—$25
Nathaniel Witherell (annual appeal)—$50
Nature Conservancy in Connecticut—$50
Naval War College Foundation—$100
Patton Museum Foundation—$25
Reagan Ranch (Young America’s Foundation project)—$15
Save the Children (charitable gift annuity)—priceless
Tax Foundation—$100

Animals’ Angels—$25
Backcountry Jazz—$100
Connecticut Humane Society—$25
Greenwich Adult Day Care (January benefit, patron)—$500
Greenwich Chaplaincy Services—$25
Greenwich Choral Society—$50
Guttmacher Institute (reproductive health and rights)—$25
Hill House senior residence—$30
National Rifle Association—$25
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation— $25
Population Connection—$50
Radio America—$25
Seamen’s Church Institute—$100
Selous Foundation (anti new toll roads)—$20
Seniors Center (Social Security Preservation Petition)—$15.48
SPCA International—$15
Troops Need You—$25
Yale-New Haven Hospital—$15

Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (year-end)—$100
American Cancer Society (New England Division leadership)—$300
Audubon CT (Environmental Leadership dinner, May 2011)—$50
Audubon Greenwich (special year-end gift)—$100
Best Friends Animal Society (homeless in Utah)—$25
Bishop’s Fund for Children—$50
Breast Cancer Alliance (annual)—$25
Bruce Museum (Cindy Sherman exhibit Committee of Honor)—$750
Call-A-Ride of Greenwich—$25
Chestnut Hill Academy (150th anniversary fund)—$1,500
Children’s Tumor Foundation—$25
Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes (Maj. Gen. Singlaub)—$60
ConnCann (Great Schools for All)—$50
Disabled American Veterans—$7.30
Dispute Settlement Center (annual)—$50
EngenderHealth (for poor)—$25
FedCap (jobs for disabled)—$25
Feed the Children (Christmas campaign)—$5
Greenwich Alliance for Education—$50
Greenwich Emergency Medical Service (GEMS)—$25
Greenwich Hospital (annual fund)—$50
Habitat for Humanity—$15
Hope & Heroes (Children’s Cancer Fund)—$45
League of Women Voters (90th benefit program listing)—$30
Junior League of Greenwich (annual appeal)—$50
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk (help military membership)—$55
Merry-Go-Round Inc.—$50
Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation—$100
Mystic Seaport (member)—$39
National Forest Foundation—$50
National Organization for Hearing Research Foundation—$100
Neighbor to Neighbor—$100
New Covenant House of Hospitality—$35
9/11 Memorial—$25
Parsonage Cottage (Home for the Aged)—$50
Pathfinder International (reproductive health)—$25
Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue—$50
Perrot Library—$25
Planned Parenthood SNE (annual)—$50
Project Return—$50
Redwings Horse Sanctuary (California)—$25
Salvation Army—$30
SoundWaters Education Programs—$50
TechnoServe (Business Solutions to Poverty)—$30
Trees, Water & People (stoves to Haiti/Central America)—$25
Veterans of Foreign Wars—$10
Wellesley Students’ Aid Society—$25
World Wildlife—$12

To save space, we have summed up political appeals during this midterm election year because there were so many of them—eighty-four, to be exact, or $13,021 worth—ranging from five receptions for Tom Foley to a hopeful handout for Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona. It was difficult trying to separate politicians from lobbyists, but we gave it our unscientific best shot.

As for the rest, there seems to be a new interest in going after charitable annuities. We also noticed that animals had a major presence including Alley Cat Allies, Noah’s Ark Lost, Orphan Acres, Animal’s Angels, the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and, of course, our own Adopt-A-Dog. In May, the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs & Burros came hot on the heels of the International Yacht Restoration School—a rare juxtaposition. 

In any case, we concluded that both the number of requests and the dollars requested had doubled in the past fifteen years. All together, our kitchen drawer disgorged 453 solicitations—over twice as many as filled it in 1996. The bottom line: If you had wanted to spread your largesse democratically across the full range of causes, giving the minimum per person suggested by each, it would have cost you (are you ready?) a grand total of $61,811.23.


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