Reduced Postage Rates
There has been a lot of complaining lately about the reliability of the U.S. Postal Service. To which I say, “Bah humbug!”
Stop the complaining. Every business day, nonprofit organizations in our country receive a gift that keeps giving and giving: sharply reduced postage rates courtesy of American taxpayers.
It’s a big gift, too. The postage discount for nonprofits is approximately 62 percent off First Class rates, depending on your level of mail presorting. What if your postage expenses suddenly jumped 2.6 times? If you use direct mail to raise money, you would be hard pressed to absorb that kind of cost increase without enduring a lot of budget pain.
But, that being said, there are some interesting and potentially troubling trends in nonprofit direct mail worth examining. Alert fundraisers, take note!
In 1970, according to the USPS, nonprofit organizations mailed nearly 4 billion pieces of mail at discounted rates. By 2005, that figure had grown almost four times to 15 billion pieces.
The U.S. population was 203.3 million in 1970, which translated into 63.4 million households, according to census reports. In 1970, nonprofit organizations mailed 63 pieces of discounted mail per American household or, on average, 1.2 pieces per week.
By 2005, the U.S. population had grown to 299.8 million and the number of households reached 108.8 million. In the same year, nonprofit organizations mailed 138 pieces of discounted mail per household, or 2.7 pieces per week. (Actually, the pieces-per-household rate is much higher because nonprofits don’t mail every household in the country.)
So pay attention to what you say and how you say it in direct mail; you’re competing with dozens and dozens of other pieces of mail vying for your donor’s attention.
Watch what you mail
As this table shows, there has been a slight decrease in the speed of delivery for nonprofit mail, from 10.9 days on average up to 11.3 days, a 4 percent degradation in days-to-home delivery. But what’s most alarming about the tracking research is that approximately 10 percent of nonprofit mail is not delivered at all. (The tracking study involved 25 nonprofit organizations mailing nationally: 13 health charities, seven religious organizations, three education groups and two cultural organizations.)