Michael Horowitz
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Donating privately to NPR

December 9, 2017

The podcast worked. An NPR podcast generated a loyal listener, someone I know. This person wanted to donate to their local NPR station to support the podcast. But, they wanted to donate by check rather than credit card.

Right off the bat, the website of the radio station wants your mailing address. No doubt, they are trying to drum up members rather than mere givers. In fact, it wants your mailing address so badly, that anyone donating by check can't avoid giving it to them. Rather than just mailing a check, the station insists on taking your name and address and then mailing you a donation envelope. I can only assume they are looking forward to sending postal SPAM in the future.

There are two problems with this inefficient approach to check donations.

For one, some people are hesitant to divulge personal information. Data gets leaked all the time, as organizations are constantly hacked.

Then too, the donation envelope may not arrive. It might get lost in the mail, the computer systems at the station may screw up printing or sending it. Or, when it does arrive, it may be grouped in with the deluge of other charity requests that some people receive and be discarded by accident.

I came to this story a few days after the podcast lover had requested the donation envelope and they were wondering whatever happened to it. This person just wanted to send the station a check and move on. But that wasn't an option.

So, I looked at the radio station's website and went to the tech support section. Go figure. Somewhere there, in one of the questions/answers, was the hidden treasure - a post office box where people can mail in a donation.

Privacy keeps getting harder to maintain.


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