Are you wasting money on postage?

direct mail for fundraising appeal letters


Guest blog by Blase Ciabaton


Sometimes it’s better to use first class postage, but more often it’s a waste of money for nonprofit organizations.


Here are some common reasons nonprofits offer for using first class postage, and an explanation of why it might be unnecessary.


We are not set up to mail at the nonprofit rate.

If you are a nonprofit in the United States, there’s absolutely no valid excuse for not being set up to mail at the nonprofit rate! It’s free to get approved to mail at the nonprofit rate, and you do not need to have a mailing permit. It takes time to get approved, so you need to act on this today if you’re not already set up. Here’s some information that will walk you through the process and link you to the required paperwork.


We want our pieces to get delivered more quickly.

Are you mailing locally, or nationally? If you are mailing to a predominantly local audience, then nonprofit mail will almost always get delivered within the same time frame as first class mail. That’s right, delivery is no quicker when using first-class postage than it is when using nonprofit postage in most cases. Exceptions to this may apply during times of the year with peak mail volumes, like during the December holiday period.


If you are mailing to a predominantly national audience, and time is a critical factor, then you may want to consider using first class postage because nonprofit rate mail moves significantly more slowly outside of your local area.


If your audience is split between local and national, then you may want to use different postage classes for the different geographic segments of your database.


We want our pieces to get forwarded or returned if we have the wrong address

To qualify for the nonprofit mailing discount, the U.S. Post Office now requires that you use some approved form of address updating within 90 days of your mailing. If you’re a larger organization, your mailing software should automate this process for you. If you work with a third party vendor to process your mailings, they should have this integrated into their software—Be sure to verify this! For a small fee, you can also work with a professional direct mail vendor to simply have your database updated and returned to you along with the update certification paperwork.


The bulk mail paperwork that gets submitted with nonprofit mail requires a box be checked which verifies that you’ve updated your addresses using an approved method within the last 90 days. If they find that this is untrue, the U.S. Post Office has the right to refuse delivery, or retroactively increase your postage to the first class rate.


To summarize, if you’re complying with what the U.S. Post Office is requesting, then it’s redundant to pay for forwarding since you’re already capturing any changed addresses during your address update process.


Watch for more on this topic in our next blog.


About the Author: In 2009, Blase Ciabaton used his six years of expertise as a direct mail professional to launch the blog www.TheDirectMailMan.com. The blog caters to the nonprofit community and tackles issues related to postage permits, mailing lists, returned mail and donor conversion.


Fundraising Assets helps busy fundraising professionals raise more money, save valuable time and reduce costs. We offer consulting, writing, design and production services for direct mail and e-mail fundraising, social networking and more.

2 Comments »

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    […] for a variety of reasons.  If you fall into this category, then you owe it to yourself to read Part 1 & Part 2 of “Are you wasting money on postage?”  The reality is that the vast majority of […]

    Pingback by 3 Ways for your Nonprofit to Save Money on your Next Direct Mail Appeal - — June 9, 2014 @ 11:55 AM

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