Pen Pal FAQs
Before Requesting a Pal
Do I need to wait to get my membership kit to sign-up for the pen pal swap?
Yes, indeed you will have to wait for your Welcome Package to arrive in order to sign-up for pen pals. Your package has your member card in it, which has your membership number. The membership number is needed to place a pen pal request. I know what you are thinking: "Don't you have that in some big database?" No, we do not. We are hardcore about keeping our member's info private, so we do not keep a record or database of our member's info.
The world of letter writing is one of patience, which is why we love it so. In this current life of instant everything, sometimes we really enjoy the build-up in waiting for that *awesome thing* to arrive. We hope you think so too.
Is the Pen Pal Swap safe?
This is a hard question to answer because everyone's comfort zone is different. The swap is optional, so not all members are part of it. That being said, in the 11 years we have been doing this, we get about one complaint a year about odd pen pals. On average, Kathy matches about 2,000 people a year, so 1 out of 2,000 is pretty good odds. That being said, it is a bummer when you are that one. We can't guarantee that the person you are matched-up with won't be a weirdo, unfortunately. This is how all pen pal swaps are–it takes all kinds. If you want to join the swap but didn't want to share your home address you could use a work address (or the work address of a friend or relative) or get a PO Box. PO Boxes are priced quite cheaply and you would be supporting your post office.
In the end, it is all about what makes you comfortable. If you are not comfortable with sharing your home address and cannot use an alternative address, then doing a swap may not be for you. If you want to write letters you can try starting a correspondence with people you know or go through an organization like a church/synagogue/religious center of choice.
Will my pen pal see my email address?
Absolutely not. The email address is for Kathy to send you your pen pal's mailing address and that is it. Pen pals only get your name, mailing address, and interests that you put down on your request form. If you gave a pen name, Kathy will only give your pal the pen name rather than your given name. All other information is purely to help Kathy match you and is not shared with anyone else.
What policies or expectations do you have for pen pallers?
We expect you to be decent and kind to your pen pals and that you give your pal a chance.
- That you start writing your pal once you get their match
- That you write back to the letters you get
- That you give your pals a chance (2-3 letters before you decide it is not a good match).
We expect you to be respectful of the time it takes to digest and respond to a letter and not to take it lightly that a person is taking time out of their life to write to you.
Pen pals for kids
Our community ranges from people who are 6 to those who are 80. That being said, we rarely get pen pals requests from kids under 12 years old. Due to this, it may take a long time for us to find a match for members in this age range. For these younger writers, we recommend Mr. Boddingtons "secret society of letter writers," which is a pen pal group just for children.
Prisoner Pen Pals
Since there are a plethora of prisoner pen pal organizations, membership and the pen pal swap are not available to those who are currently incarcerated.
After getting matched-up
My pen pal and I don't have any similar interests, why did you match us?
I spend a lot of time matching everyone and there is always a reason why I match people up. If your interests don't seem to match up, there is most likely something they wrote in their form that was only to me (and not shared with you, the pen pal) that made me think you two would hit it off. I promise, just try a few letters with them and see what happens!
I haven't heard from my second pal, what gives?
Sometimes your second pen pal won't get your info at the same time you get your pen pal match-up. They might not get your mailing info until two weeks after you get your email. There is also the chance your second pal is in a different country, which takes more time. Due to these possible factors, give your second pal 4-6 weeks before getting worried that they will never write. if you don't hear from them by then, email us or sign-up for the swap again.
None of my pals are writing back to me!
This happens sometimes. Life gets in the way, mail gets lost, your pal didn't realize the time they had to put into writing back...there are a lot of reasons for not hearing back from your pal. Give your pal 6 weeks or so. If you don't hear from them after that time, write them a little "hello" postcard to prod them. Make sure the postcard has your return address on it! If you still don't hear from them after that, it is safe to say that correspondence is done.
I want more pals!
Yay! You can request more pals anytime via the online form. All we ask is that you wait 6 weeks between requests, so you can give other members a chance at being matched up and so that you have some buffer between the new sets of mail.
Place any new requests for more pals via the online request form. Do not email your request. The online form puts your info a handy dandy spreadsheet for me that lets me match everyone one efficiently.
My pen pal stopped writing
Yeah, that happens in pen pal relationships. I see pen pals as going to a party. You are going to meet a lot of people, but you will only hit it off with a couple of people. There is nothing wrong with this. Just keep trying with more pen pals and eventually, you will find some people you really click with.
I still have a question...
Please email me (Kathy) and ask!