Drowning in Junk Mail – How to Research Who Makes the Junk Mail

For anyone who stumbles on this post, please read how this fits into my over all strategy for stopping junk mail. This is not the first step. This is for groups who will not stop sending junk mail after being repeatedly asked to do so.

I have gotten a couple of requests asking how I find who is behind the junk mail. This takes a little foot work, and a little Google-fu to get what you are looking for.

For Charities, 501(c)3:

Sign up for Charity Navigator and Guidestar. They both have the IRS 990’s for charities. But they only give you access to the documents if you sign up. I like Charity Navigator better, but sometimes only Guidestar will have the documents you are looking for.

Look up the charity who’s junk mail you want to stop. In this case I have picked United States Justice Foundation in Charity Navigator.

Look past the 1 star rating and click on the IRS (Forms 990) tab

Scroll down to the bottom of the page where the links to the PDF’s are. The IRS documents will always be out of date. In this case the newest 990’s are from 2013. You just have to hope that they haven’t changed fundraisers.

This is the first page of the PDF. It gives all the vitals, address, phone number, who is in charge.
This is when you start scrolling.

This is what you are looking for.
Section B. Independent Contractors. This is for independent contractors that received over $100,000 in compensation. There are only 5 spaces. This is only the top 5 independent contractors that got over $100,000. In this case they are all for direct marketing. Sometimes they list printers, or the delightfully vague “consulting”.

They are:

Keep scrolling
Supplemental Information Regarding Fundraising or Gaming Activities. This is the other section where you will find fundraisers. In this case it is their biggest fundraiser Richard Norman Company. Who they paid over $200,000 in 2013.

For Political Action Committees, PACs, 501(c)4, Dark Money groups:

Open Secrets used to be my goto for documents, but they aren’t consistent with giving a link to IRS documents for every group. Now I use Citizen Audit for looking up IRS documents for PACs.

Citizen Audit is very easy to use
Citizen Audit

Just type in the group you are looking for and click “Search”. It will appear under the search bar.

Click through to the group’s page.
Citizen Audit 2
Scroll down a little and look for the “See PDF” for the newest IRS 990. It is the same form that charities use.

IRS 990’s only ask for the top 5 independent contractors that received over $100,000 in compensation. The FEC wants all of a PAC’s expenses. Every pen and pencil, every taxi ride, every stamp for every envelope.

For FEC documents you have to go to the official FEC.gov. This website is AWFUL. No really, it is as bad as any geocities site from 1995. I am just going to link to the search page to save your brain from the terribleness of this website.

Candidate and Committee Viewer search

Type in the candidate or PAC you want to look up.

This is the page for Ryan Zinke the house representative for Montana. He was sending my gal junk mail. She was in California.
You want to click on the operating expenditures link. A note about the FEC website: NEVER, EVER use the search bar in the top right corner. It will plunge you in to the worst garbage search of all time.

These are the expenditures for team Zinke. It goes on, and on. Page after page. Click the “Purpose” bar to put the expenditures in alphabetical order. You are looking for key words like: Printing, Postage, Direct Mail, Marketing, Fundraising, Caging, List Rental

Capitol Caging corp: Caging fees. Open Secrets page

Forthright Strategy: creative fees, I am cheating with this one I already know who Forthright Strategy is.

Legacy List Marketing: List Rental
O’Neill Marketing Co: List Rental

CMS – Consolidated Mailing Services: Printing
Donor Bureau: Printing

I may not call the 2 company’s who do printing. Unless they keep popping up over and over with other PACs

So what do you do with this information? Look up each fundraiser in Google, go to their website, then email them and give them a phone call. They maybe confused. Tell them all about your junk mail problems until they take you off their mailing list. They may ignore you. Take note of the lack of response and move on to the next fundraiser. When the junk mail doesn’t stop, and you file your formal complaint with the DMA and your state’s attorney general, mention the lack of help you got from each company.


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