If you don’t already know what direct mail is, it’s one of the most effective fundraising tools available to nonprofits. You can send targeted messages through the mail to prospective and current donor lists, inviting them to give to your organization. However, navigating the world of direct mail postage can be challenging, especially if you’re brand new to nonprofits. Good thing we’re here to break it down for you!
First things first: is your organization registered with the USPS as a nonprofit organization? If not, it should be! Organizations authorized by the postal service are able to send mail at significantly reduced nonprofit postage rates, which is always great for your bottom line. The USPS defines the following items as eligible for nonprofit mailing: self-mailers, letters, newsletters, and booklets that weigh less than 16 ounces. Fortunately for nonprofits, these tend to fall under the category of direct mail pieces.
The application to register your organization and mail at nonprofit prices can be found here — just be sure to pay attention to the required documents. Once you’re approved to go, you can choose how you want to send mail.
An indicia is the most popular way for nonprofits to send direct mail, especially when it involves mailing upwards of 200 identical pieces. It is used in place of a physical postage stamp and can actually be incorporated into the design of a piece! (It’s the little box found in place of postage that states “Non-Profit US Postage Paid” with a location and the non-profit indicia number.) If you don’t have a graphic designer on hand, reach out to your design partner (like us!) and ask how to include an indicia imprint in the design. This way, you can see what the final direct mail product will look like.
Indicia have the benefit of saving time because it can be incorporated into the original design of a direct mail piece, during the printing of mailing addresses, or by your mail house. Indicia are most commonly seen in flyers, newsletters, and other informative types of mail. Unlike stamps, indicia do not need to be done by hand. Speaking of stamps…
These are the most popular option for sending direct mail appeals in envelopes — because they look like regular mail and therefore are more likely to be opened! Precanceled stamps are affixed just like a regular stamp, but are approved for use at the nonprofit rate. These come in rolls of 500, 3000, or 10000 stamps — however, if you’re adding them to your direct mail pieces by hand, it can be a time suck for your staff. If you’re working with a print shop, ask if they have machines that can apply precanceled stamps to mail pieces. If they do, the time saved might be worth the cost paid. One thing to keep in mind with precanceled stamps is that they must be mailed from the post office location from which you hold your permit.
A metered indicia is another option for nonprofits to use — and has the benefit of being useful for direct mail pieces as well as standard mail pieces. Unlike the indicia which is included as part of the printing process, a metered indicia is added to the envelope or direct mail piece after the fact. And depending on the size of the postage meter can determine how quickly mail can be stamped.
Regardless of which route you decide to go when it comes to sending direct mail as a nonprofit , the most important thing is to make sure that your mail makes it clear that it’s coming from a nonprofit organization! Each and every piece must be marked as NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION, NONPROFIT ORG, or NONPROFIT somewhere in the indicia, precanceled stamp, the meter impression, or on the mailpiece itself, adjacent to the postage area.
Postage at the discounted nonprofit rate is a great way to save on postage costs when mailing large quantities. If you have questions about how to apply for nonprofit mail prices or want to know more about the differences between direct mail postage options, get in touch! Our team knows the ins and outs of indicia, metered mail, and precanceled stamps to save your organization money.