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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Generous Donations Beget More Requests

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Over the past two years, my husband and I have received two rather substantial bequests from two very generous relatives. Because of these inheritances, we have been able to make much larger donations to charities than we otherwise could have.

We have since been inundated with letters and phone calls soliciting more, even larger, donations. Representatives from two charitable organizations have asked to meet personally with us, and a third actually showed up unannounced at our door. (We weren’t home, but he left a note and a small gift.)

Will you please tell me how to politely let these organizations know that phone calls and personal visits will not inspire us to give them more money? If anything, they will have the opposite effect.

In the future, should we enclose a letter with our check, asking that they not contact us except through the mail? I do a much better job of ignoring letters than I do surprise phone calls and ambushes at my front door.

GENTLE READER: Reputable charities should recognize not only the etiquette, but the self-interest, in following a donor’s wish about how to communicate.

But Miss Manners recommends you save your admonition for a response to the inevitable follow-up solicitation. If you preemptively tell them to contact you by mail, you will only whet their appetite.