Nonprofit Mailing for
Beth Gay, DCTJ, FSA Scot
Editor-in-Chief, The Family Tree
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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
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
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
email@example.com at any time with
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
From the Alliance of
Nonprofit Mailers website we learn there are three basic types of
restrictions imposed upon the eligibility of nonprofit mail.
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
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?
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.