The U.S. Postal Service just announced proposed increases for some mailing rates to the Postal Regulatory Commission, which if approved, would take effect July 14, 2024. These new rates include a 5-cent increase in first-class mail stamps from 68 to 73 cents. 

Overall, mailing services product prices would climb 7.8%. While third-class/nonprofit rates are not part of this current proposal, nonprofit mailers should be prepared for likely increases in the months ahead. 

Coupled with recent increases in paper and printing costs, postage rate hikes put nonprofits in a challenging position. Here are some tips to save money and prepare.

Tip #1: Practice Good List Hygiene 

Practicing good list hygiene is one of the best ways to save money on a direct mail campaign. Sending mail to undeliverable addresses or inaccurate records is akin to throwing money away. Updating and cleaning contacts, removing duplicates, and matching your donor records to the National Change of Address (NCOA) database help ensure the intended recipients receive your mail accurately, on time, and within budget. 

Tip #2: Build Contingency Padding Into Your Budget 

Of course, budgets are tight, but it’s important to prepare for what may lie ahead. Add as much padding into your budget as possible or create a contingency fund line item. This is good practice against cost increases as well as other potential and unforeseen circumstances. We recommend a minimum of 5% of total costs for this critical fund—a foresight that will surely come in handy.

Tip #3: Maximize Postal Efficiencies 

Make sure your printer or agency is working with you to optimize postage discounts through techniques such as pre-sorting, bulk mail processing, co-mingling, automation such as Intelligent Mail Barcoding (IMB), and more. The rule of thumb is the more work you do upfront for the USPS, the greater the discount you will receive. 

Tip #4: Mind the Format 

Postage costs vary by size and weight, so you should audit your mail packages and look for efficiencies. Because it costs less to mail postcards than letters or flats, consider using them occasionally in your mail program with QR codes to drive recipients to online donation forms or other web pages. If you’re mailing a flat, look to test smaller sizes. The fewer components you have in your package, the lower the postage rate is.

Tip #5: Diversify Your Channel Mix 

Consider reducing your mail volume or cadence and creating more multichannel campaigns. Investing in digital advertising across paid search, display, and even connected TV can increase brand impressions and allow for quicker learning on tests. This approach helps mitigate risk by spreading your spend across channels, and most importantly, helps you meet the donors and prospects where they are and let them respond via their preferred method. 

These tips can lead to tremendous savings for nonprofit mailers and are simply good marketing and fundraising practices in general. 

Let NextGen Help 

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