Charities, nonprofits still rely on U.S. Postal Service for solicitations

Written on Sep 01, 2017

Social media, text messaging and email may be the preferred methods of communication for most people and organizations today, but when it comes to charities and nonprofits looking to raise awareness and funds, old school direct mail is still the preferred way to go.

Charity organizations and nonprofits have sent approximately 80 billion pieces of mail annually since 2009, according to data from the U.S. Postal Service. With fall fund drives and heavy-giving season quickly approaching with the holidays, these organizations are preparing to ramp back up with their long-successful mailing campaigns.

The USPS said volume for marketing mail has remained relatively stable since dropping off after the recession in 2008. USPS records show the volume of marketing mail has hovered around 80 billion since 2009. Mailers from charities and nonprofits were between 79.5 billion in 2012 and 84 billion in 2011. In 2007, there was 103.5 billion pieces of marketing mail sent, with 98.4 billion sent in 2008.

Letter rates for nonprofits range from 8 cents per piece to 20 cents per piece. By comparison, for-profit marketing costs range from 15.5 cents per piece to 30.1 cents per piece, and first-class regular mail costs 49 cents per piece. Nonprofit organizations can apply to receive special nonprofit prices from the USPS.

The Postal Service does not add any additional fees for nonprofits to ship items like coins and blankets. The post office charges by the weight, thickness and size of the item and its ability to be processed by a machine. However, if the mail is too much for the post office's machines to handle and needs to be handled by people, nonprofits are required to pay a non-automation fee.

Business leagues, social and hobby clubs, some political organizations and chambers of commerce are not eligible to receive the special nonprofit prices, according to the USPS. Nonprofit organizations that usually qualify for the special discount include agricultural, fraternal, philanthropic, religious, veteran, labor, scientific, education and some forms of political committees.

Even if the nonprofit qualifies for the discount, there are restrictions on the materials it can send to potential donors.

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