Beginning my third year of retirement, I am sorting through a lot of decisions involving how to spend my time —and my money. Shall I continue to subscribe and read The Chronicle of Higher Education which I have been reading regularly since my undergraduate days? No. Is there reason for me to continue to upgrade my computer(s)? Yes, but I no longer need the wealth of software (such as SPSS and Microsoft Office) that once used regularly.

Recently I was contacted via letter by two organizations to whom I have regularly made financial contributions for more than forty years. Each in their own way acknowledged my past generosity (including donations this past year) and invited me to upgrade my amount of giving.

Organization #1’s letter was personalized, acknowledged that I had already given, clearly communicated a need, indicated how my contribution would be matched, and allowed me a number of options about how I could help.  A day after I made an upgraded contribution I received a phone call from the organization. The person who left the voice mail communicated an authenticity of gratitude for my gift, indicated that she hoped personally to thank me when I visited the organization in a month, and left me feeling pleased with my decision.

Organization # 2’s letter was undated, on a glossy paper on the bottom right of which was a code for the particular donor  group that I belong to. The letter was “signed” by one individual but all correspondence was directed to another. Amounts that were suggested that I give ranged from the amount my wife gets from Social Security to the amount needed to endow a scholarship fund at my former place of employment. This letter, too, indicated that my gift would be matched and that if I increased my match by a certain amount I would receive a bottle of bourbon (which I could pick up either the day before or two days later).  I do not drink alcohol. Moreover, the day I received this letter I also had received messages from three friends proudly sharing on Facebook with the online world their pride at having become alcohol free for one to 45 years.

To which organization do you suppose that I shall “up” my charitable giving?