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Non Profit Mailing


Nonprofit Mailing for Nonprofit Groups
Beth Gay, DCTJ, FSA Scot
Editor-in-Chief
, The Family Tree
The Claymore
229-985-6540 (O)
229-782-5674 (H)
PO Box 2828
Moultrie, GA 31776-2828

Nonprofit mailing rates (from 20% to 40% lower than the regular rates) are available for some organizations that are authorized to mail at the nonprofit mailing rates. When you mail at these rates, you must be sure that the material being mailed complies with strict requirements for those nonprofit rates. Nonprofit mailing rates apply only to domestic mail and are not valid for international mail.

Usually organizations that are typically eligible for nonprofit rates include: agricultural groups, educational groups; fraternal or labor groups; philanthropic or religious groups; scientific groups; veterans' organizations and some political committees.

Individuals and certain nonprofit organizations are NOT usually eligible for nonprofit rates. Business leagues, chambers of commerce, social and hobby clubs and certain political organizations are NOT eligible.

Even when you qualify for the nonprofit mailing rates, you must be aware of the rules and regulations that govern this kind of mailing. There are restrictions as to what may be mailed at nonprofit rates.

  • Advertising insurance and travel are restricted.
  • Ads for credit cards are prohibited.

Quick Service Guide 670, Standard Mail Nonprofit Eligibility, from your local USPS gives an overview of nonprofit rates and eligibility.

Nonprofit Standard Mail Eligibility, Publication 417, also from your local USPS will give complete information about nonprofit eligibility, including the types of materials that may be mailed at the nonprofit rates. You will also find complete instructions for applying for nonprofit mailing privileges.

You may also get these publications from www.usps.com

How to apply for nonprofit mailing rates

To apply for nonprofit mailing rates get a copy of Form 3624, Application to Mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail Rates from your local postmaster or local business mail entry unit.

You will need documentation to go along with your Form 3624.

Items needed include:

  • Formative papers (e.g. articles of incorporation, constitution or charter).

  • IRS letter of exemption from payment of Federal Tax.

  • Other evidence of nonprofit status - e.g., a financial statement prepared by an independent auditor substantiating the organization's nonprofit status (which must include balance sheets, notes, etc.)

Some mailers provide additional supporting documentation such as:

  • A list of the organizations' activities during the past year.

  • Financial statement showing receipts and expenditures for the past fiscal year, plus the budget for the current year.

  • Other documents of operation such as the organization's bulletins, minutes of meetings, brochures.

When you have completed the form and the supporting documentation take it to your postmaster or at the business mail entry unit. There is no fee to apply for nonprofit status. However, you will need to pay an annual mailing fee and, if you decide to pay with permit imprint, a permit entry fee.

Your application will be reviewed by the Postal Service. If there are any questions about the application or if additional supporting documentation is needed, a postal specialist will contact you directly. Usually, it takes about two weeks for your application to be approved.

In the meantime…

You CAN mail your organization's material while the nonprofit application is pending. Until you receive nonprofit authorization, you must pay postage at the regular Standard Mail rates. Then, once your nonprofit application is approved, you can request a refund of the difference between the regular and nonprofit rates.

You will receive an authorization letter from the Postal Service when your application is approved. A copy will also go to the post office where you are authorized to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail Rates. Be sure to save your copy of the letter as evidence that you have been authorized.

After you are approved…

Once you have been approved to mail at nonprofit rates, in order to keep that authorization, you must make a mailing at nonprofit rates at least once during a two-year period at each office where you are authorized. Otherwise, your authorization will be revoked due to nonuse.

"I print my mailpiece in one city and mail from another…help!"

If your organization has existing authorization to mail at a specific post office (city) and would like to mail from additional offices, you must apply by submitting Form 3623, Application for Nonprofit Standard Mail Rates at Additional Mailing Office to your local post office.

How do I prepare my nonprofit mail?

Except for restrictions on content, mail sent at nonprofit rates looks just like regular Standard Mail. The only difference is the required marking for nonprofit mail. NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION or NONPROFIT ORG must appear in the imprint indicia (along with your permit number) or on a nonprofit precanceled stamp or as part of the meter impression or must be printed on the mailpiece outside of the postage area.

In addition, the exact name and address of the nonprofit organization MUST be shown, either on the outside of the mailpiece or in a prominent place within the contents.

Nonprofit mail is sorted and prepared the same way as regular Standard Mail.

Is there an organization of nonprofit mailers?

The Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers in Washington, DC is an organization that each and every nonprofit mailer needs to be aware of…and needs to be a part of.

You may always go to http://www.nonprofitmailers.org and find the absolute latest information of importance and interest to nonprofit mailers.

Even if you have your Domestic Mail Manual and Publication 417 in front of you, it is often difficult to decipher the nonprofit rules and regulations.

You may always email alliance@nonprofitmailers.org at any time with questions.

Topics covered on the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers site include About the Alliance, Breaking News, Tools for Nonprofit Mailers, Nonprofit Sharing, On Capitol Hill, Preferred Commercial Vendors, From the Industry and Members Only.

Restrictions imposed?

From the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers website we learn there are three basic types of restrictions imposed upon the eligibility of nonprofit mail.

  1. Cooperative Mailings - An authorized nonprofit mailer must not use the nonprofit rate to send matter on behalf of, or produced for, unauthorized mailers. Nonprofit mailers must be certain that only its own matter is mailed under the nonprofit authorization. The mailer must not "rent," delegate or lend its authorization to any other person or organization.

    Simply put, this applies to any arrangement where a non-eligible party wants to do a joint mailing with an eligible organization where both of the parties might share in the cost, risk or benefit of the mailing. Nonprofit mailers can't allow anyone else to ride in the Standard class (formerly known as third class) envelope unless the other part is another qualified nonprofit mailer with a nonprofit authorization to mail at the same postal facility.

  2. Announcements for Travel, Insurance or Financial Arrangements (TIF) - A 1991 law designed to reduce the "commercial" use of the preferred postal rate placed eligibility restrictions on these types of Standard class nonprofit mailpieces, the TIF rules went into effect in 1992, but continue to cause confusion even today.

There are so many twists and turns in the rules and regulations regarding nonprofit mailing you MUST have someone for dependable advice and help. The Alliance is a very important part of your support group.

Will my local post office help me?

Another most valuable part of your support group is your own local post office.

I've found local postal employees to be marvelously helpful and cooperative. If they don't know the answer to a question, they will find it for you.

There is usually a specific person who works with bulk mail and nonprofit mailers…and this person is knowledgeable and a wondrous source of correct information.


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