The Implications of USPS Mailing Rate Decreases
What the recent mailing rate decrease means for churches.
The Implications of USPS Mailing Rate Decreases

For churches that rely upon mail to keep their congregation and community informed about church events, there’s good news for their postal budgets: the postal rates of the United State Postal Service (USPS) dropped on April 10, 2016.

“Nonprofits will immediately have about a four percent reduction in their postage cost that will persist into the future,” Executive Director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers Stephen Kearney explained. “The question a lot of nonprofits are asking themselves is what will they do with those savings.”

One example of the rate change will be lower stamp prices that will allow people to save money when mailing. The typical first class stamp was $0.49 but has now gone down to $0.47.

The mailing rate decrease is due to the past increase in USPS postal charges. Citing the recession as a reason to increase rates, the USPS was granted increased postage rates, which began in 2014, by the Postal Regulatory Commissions under the conditions that the surcharge lasts only until the USPS reaches the amount of earnings it lost—$4.9 billion, according to Kearney.

Speaking before the change, Kearney said that USPS was “going to reach that $4.9 billion on April 10 of this year, so that’s why it has to be removed on April 10.” Following the rate changes, Kearney expects to see an increase in nonprofit mailings.

Churches should consider what changes they should make in their mailing practices following the decrease and should determine how they might use the change to their advantage.

Nonprofits “should become very aware of how much” their postage will decrease, Kearney said, “and they should seriously consider how they should use those savings going forward because direct mail for nonprofits remains probably the most effective method of fundraising.”

The reduced postage rates offer churches an opportunity to expand ministry efforts and increase mailing without increasing their bottom line.

“It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take advantage of something that almost never happens. At least for the rest of 2016—and probably 2017 also—the postage is going to be very affordable,” Kearney said. While rates may increase after this year, “2016 and 2017 are a great opportunity for nonprofits to really build their donor base, build their membership, and save a lot of money on their postage,” Kearney pointed out.

That’s good news for churches that might be facing limitations in their postal budgets.

Even before the decrease went into effect, nonprofits had already voiced their support for the decrease in postal rates.

“They think it’s really good for the nonprofit sector because a lot of them rely heavily on mail to do their fundraising, to communicate with their members, and also a lot of our [Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers] members mail magazines, and they’re going to save money on that, too,” Kearney explained. “It just allows them to put more money toward their programs and toward their mission rather than toward postage.”

Similarly, churches can put the money they will save on postage back into their ministry’s efforts to communicate with the congregation through the church’s mailing practices.

You can learn more about how to execute effective fundraising in the downloadable guide Church Fundraising Campaigns. Church Finance Today’s July 2015 issue addressed future opportunities churches will have when it comes to online giving.

Elizabeth Jackson is the editorial intern for Church Law & Tax.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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