November 20, 2017
    What nonprofits will do when the exigent surcharge goes away

    With the return of postal rates to the Consumer Price Index cap on April 10, nonprofits will definitely see the benefit to its bottom-line. But will the absence of the exigent surcharge significantly change how nonprofit mailers will now conduct mailings? 

    Stephen Kearney, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, said, "We have heard from many nonprofits that they plan to use the upcoming price rollback as an opportunity to raise more funds for their causes. While very few plan to delay mailings planned for before April 10, most that we hear from say that they either already have decided or are considering increasing their mailings after April 10. Mailing more due to lower rates fits well with the data showing nonprofit Standard Mail volumes dropping 4.7 percent after the imposition of the 4.3 percent surcharge."

    TRENDS asked several nonprofits listed as among the largest in the U.S., how the lower postal rates will affect their donor mailings. We also asked if the lowered postal rates would affect their use of social media.

    Jim Clarke, CAE, public policy SVP for ASAE, said the association will "definitely figure in" the adjusted postal rates as it begins working on its next budgeting cycle. "I think we will always use a mix of email and mailing and so forth," but says that "mobile [technology] is the key area to move forward." 

    Association of Fundraising Professionals public affairs VP Michael Nilsen said, "We haven’t heard a lot of chatter amongst our members about this. I think definitely that nonprofits, especially those that rely heavily on direct mail, may indeed send out more direct mail solicitations and other communications. But I don’t foresee a huge increase, and I don’t think the impact was/is that significant that we’ll see any impact on social media, emails and other mediums. The use of social media has definitely increased over the past several years, but I don’t think that’s because of the surcharge, but just nonprofits taking advantage of a key societal trend that people are using."

    LCol. Ron Busroe, national community relations and development secretary for the Salvation Army, said, "Mailings are handled in each of our territories, and are a major source of income for The Salvation Army. We would not base our number of pieces mailed on the cost of the mailing postage, but rather on the effectiveness of the mailing. While our direct mail vendors may want to mail more, we are working to be better

    stewards of our donors, their "donor fatigue" and use of their gifts. We will celebrate the lowering of costs, and hopefully employ the gain to helping more people. We are seeing significant growth in digital giving and will continue to use social media to communicate and ask donors."

    Goodwill Industries and Task Force for Global Health, among the top-5 largest U.S. charities, said they don't use direct mail for donor outreach. United Way International and American Red Cross did not respond before press time.

    Association TRENDS