Francois Gloutnay helps organize stamp sales every year at Montreal-area shows to raise funds for Development and Peace. Photo courtesy of John Longhurst

D&P funds raised via postage stamps

By  John Longhurst, Catholic Register Special
  • April 5, 2012

MONTREAL - Francois Gloutnay is stamping out poverty — one stamp at a time.

Gloutnay, communications officer at the Montreal office of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada, is an avid stamp collector. He also sells them. Every year he helps organize stamp sales at Montreal-area shows to raise money for D&P.

The stamps sell for a few cents each, but it all adds up. Since 1992, when Gloutnay became involved in the fundraising effort, he has helped raise over $335,000 for D&P programs around the world.

“We’re quite pleased with the result,” he says. “I’ve collected stamps since I was a young boy. I always enjoyed learning about the various countries they came from. It gave me a good sense of world geography.”

Gloutnay isn’t alone. Fifteen other stamp collectors — all volunteers — help him by separating the stamps from envelopes and organizing them by country or theme for sale at the shows. 

In the early years, they raised about $1,000 annually. Now its about $25,000. The project started in 1984, before e-mail and faxes, when most communications were sent by mail.

“Back then, we got a lot of mail,” Gloutnay says. “Someone suggested that instead of throwing away the envelopes, we should try to sell the stamps.”

So where do the stamps come from today?

“We still get some from donations and letters sent to the office,” Gloutnay says. “But most come from churches, schools, unions and individuals who save stamps and send them to us.”

Members of the Catholic Women’s League are also big supporters. “Each week, I receive at least one big envelope from a local council somewhere in Canada,” he says.

Although most stamps they receive are Canadian, many come from other countries.

“Collectors know if they want a stamp from a foreign country, the D&P table is the place to go,” he says.

Most stamps sell for five to 10 cents, he says, but a few rarer ones have sold for up to $40.

For Gloutnay, the stamp sales are a great way to combine his hobby with raising funds to help people in the developing world.

“By themselves, the stamps aren’t worth much,” he says. “But together, they add up to bring in a lot of money to help others.”

To add your stamps to the effort, e-mail Gloutnay at francois.gloutnay@devp.org.

(Longhurst directs Resources & Public Engagement at Canadian Foodgrains Bank.)

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