Just when you thought it was safe to send out more direct mail, the United States post office announces an increase. This year’s 10 % rise represents one of the most significant price hikes in the cost of a first-class stamp from .50 cents to .55 cents per ounce.
For those nonprofits who use both DSCF (nonprofit bulk mail) and first class mail to solicit for donations, it’s a double hit: both first class and DSCF are going up this go-round.
Most nonprofits take advantage of the post office’s third-class nonprofit rate which saves considerable money on mailings. This bulks price must be obtained after securing nonprofit status with the United States post office and using a special indicia on outbound mail with a nonprofit permit number.
However, even with the nonprofit rate, the price of nonprofit bulk mail has gone up too, rising twice the rate of inflation from 4.8 to 5.5% for destinational sectional center facility (DSCF).
Save Money on Mailings: What You Can Do Now
It’s a shame that the price increase impacts nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits remain one of the post office’s most prominent customers as fewer people send cards, letters, and other mail via first class, relying on email and texting instead.
But what’s done is done, and now is the time not to complain but to act to reduce the cost of mailings. Here are a few steps you can take to keep prices down:
- Clean up your mailing lists: Work with a mail service provider or list vendor to clean your lists. The mailing list should be cleaned annually of old, unusable addresses, incomplete addresses, returned mail, and duplicate mailings. Mailing list data handlers can access files from the post office of people who have moved or died during the past year; they can then update those who have moved and remove the deceased persons from your mailing list. This alone can update a list so that less mail ends up in the trash or undeliverable.
- Stop sending trinkets: Although many nonprofits send items such as stickers, cards, and pens to potential donors, these add to the cost of the mailing. Instead of sending return address labels, consider uploading something printable to your website and inviting people to download it. Not only will you save on the cost of outbound postage because the envelopes weigh less, but you can track the open rate of your letters by determining the percent of recipients who received the letter and downloaded the freebie.
- Talk to your printer: Printing companies offer people who are experts at their craft and who can advise you on ways to reduce the cost of your mailings. For example, an experienced printer can suggest an alternative paper for your printing job that cuts the weight down of each envelope and reduces the cost per piece. Printers can also recommend the best times to mail so that your nonprofit mail isn’t swimming against the tide of high volume or better ways to batch your mail so that you achieve the maximum postal discounts possible.
- Improve your ROI: As costs of direct mail increase, the need to achieve a mailing ROI increases. To improve your direct mail, consider A/B tests, which test a control (a mailing package with a known response rate) against a test piece (the same package with one element changed, such as the design or the copy inside). By continually testing and improving with each mailing, you’ll be able to improve your ability to meet or exceed the mailing ROI.
- Increase online donor solicitations: Learn to use all forms of online donor solicitations from better email outreach to social media. Although direct mail remains a popular and effective method of meeting fundraising goals, the more expensive it gets, the more you may need to switch to online fundraising.
Although the postal price increase is a ‘done deal’ and effective in 2019, the impact upon your nonprofit isn’t signed, sealed, and delivered. You can affect and mitigate its effects by using these steps to counteract the steep postal price increase.
Welter Consulting bridges people and software technology to help nonprofits be more efficient and effective. We work exclusively with nonprofits and have the experience necessary to help them build, grow, and develop over time. We invite you to contact us for any assistance you need with nonprofit technology and business solutions. Call 206-605-3113 or contact us.