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Action Needed to Delay New Postage Increases

(Apr. 30, 2007) All U.S. AFP members are asked to send letters to their members of Congress to delay implementation of a new mailing category, not flat-machinable (NFM) mail pieces, that could increase postage costs by 100 to 400 percent for some charities.

The NFM category is for mail pieces that no longer meet the standard rates because of rigid, uneven or box-like enclosures, such as medallions, candles, flags or other items, including greeting cards and books.

The United State Postal Service (USPS) is scheduled to implement the category on May 14, meaning that charities have just two weeks to see the category delayed so the sector can work to change the policy and/or prepare for the increased costs.

The sector has already appealed to the USPS board of governors, but that body has so far taken no action. AFP, the DMA Nonprofit Federation and other organizations are now asking all charities to contact their members of Congress to delay the implementation of the new Not Flat-Machinable mailing category. (For more information on the new category and how to determine if a mail piece falls into the NFM category, click here).

AFP thanks the DMA Nonprofit Federation for its work on this issue.

A list of key members of Congress to contact (if they represent your organization or employees of the organization) is below. AFP members should call and write a letter to their representatives and senators (use sample letter below), using the following key points:

  1. The NFM rate is going into effect on May 14 with virtually no notice to the thousands of nonprofit organizations that are affected. The standards that now put many fundraising mailings, such as greeting cards, into the higher rates were finalized February 14. Nonprofits have had less than two months to reconfigure their mail pieces and many do not have the resources to meet the May 14 deadline.
  2. The high cost of the NFM rate will have a devastating affect on nonprofit organizations that were counting on these mailings for their fundraising this year.
  3. This new classification went into effect with little notice and very little time for compliance, and the classification means rates increasing between 100 and 400 percent.
  4. The sector needs a delay through Dec. 31, 2007, to help nonprofits review their mail pieces to try to conform to the standards or to find less expensive alternatives.

Members can dial the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to reach the following key members of the USPS Oversight Committees, or their particular representatives:

Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs

Democrats

Joseph Lieberman, Conn., Chair
Carl Levin, Mich.
Daniel Akaka, Hawaii
Tom Carper, Del.
Mark Pryor, Ark.
Mary L. Landrieu La.
Barack Obama Ill.
Claire McCaskill Mo.
Jon Tester Mt.

Republicans

Susan Collins, Maine, Ranking Minority Member
Ted Stevens, Alaska
George Voinovich, Ohio
Norm Coleman, Minn.
Tom Coburn, Okla.
Pete Domenici, N.M.
John Warner, Va.
John Sununu, NH

House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia

Democrats

Danny K. Davis, Ill., Chair
Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.
John P. Sarbanes, Md.
Elijah Cummings, Md.
Dennis Kucinich, Ohio
Lacy Clay, Mo.
Stephen F. Lynch, Mass.

Republicans

Kenny Marchant, Texas, Ranking Minority Member
John M. McHugh, N.Y.
John L. Mica, Fla.
Darrell E. Issa, Calif.

House Committee on Government Reform

Democrats

Henry Waxman, Calif., Chair
Tom Lantos, Calif.
Edolphus Towns, N.Y.
Paul Kanjorski, Pa.
Carolyn Maloney, N.Y.
Elijah Cummings, Md.
Dennis Kucinich, Ohio
Danny Davis, Ill.
John Tierney, Mass.
Lacy Clay, Mo.
Diane Watson, Calif.
Stephen Lynch, Mass.
Brian Higgins, N.Y.
John Yarmouth, Ky.
Bruce Braley, Iowa
Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington, D.C.
Betty McCollum, Minn.
Jim Cooper, Tenn.
Chris Van Hollen, Md.
Paul Hodes, N.H.
Christopher Murphy, Conn.
John Sarbanes, Md.
Peter Welch, Vt.

Republicans

Tom Davis, Va., Ranking Minority Member
Dan Burton, Ind.
Christopher Shays, Conn.
John McHugh, N.Y.
John Mica, Fla.
Mark Souder, Ind.
Todd Russell Platts, Pa.
Chris Cannon, Utah
John Duncan, Jr., Tenn.
Michael Turner, Ohio
Darrell Issa, Calif.
Kenny Marchant, Texas
Lynn Westmoreland, Ga.
Patrick McHenry, N.C.
Virginia Foxx, N.C.
Brian Bilbray, Calif.
Bill Sali, Idaho

Sample Letter

 

(Use these links to find your representative’s or senator’s mailing address and fax number. AFP encourages these means of communications as opposed to emails.)

Representative (or Senator) XXX

U.S. House of Representatives (or U.S. Senate)

Washington, DC 20515 (or 20510)

We are writing to you on an urgent matter that affects nonprofits across the nation, including the [NAME OF ORGANIZATION].

The United States Postal Service’s recent reclassification proposal includes new requirements that will force nonprofit organizations into the higher not flat-machinable (NFM) rate or the parcel rate category on May 14, 2007.

The shift from automated letters and flats to NFM and parcel rate categories affects the mail pieces that traditionally have generated one of our core revenue streams. Without time to plan, the huge rate increases—more than twice current rates—will price our control packages out of the mail stream.

Because of the short time involved between finalizing the rates and their implementation, there will not be sufficient time for us to redesign the traditional control mail piece and test alternatives. Redesign and testing is the only way for us to develop substitute solicitation packages that satisfy the new mailing standards for automation letters and flats rates.

Nor will there be sufficient time to test new mail-piece designs in time to roll them out for the all-important holiday mailing season. Greeting cards used as front-end premiums generate donations that sustain our nonprofit organization throughout the year.

Compared to other fundraising techniques, the front-end premium performs particularly well when it is used to prospect for new donors and allows us to continue our mission to (PLEASE GIVE SOME EXAMPLES)

Failure to allow time to plan will not only affect our outbound prospect mail, but also will result in less first class mail, already an endangered class of mail. That is because when an addressee decides to contribute, he or she sends a gift back via first class mail. As a result, cutting outbound prospect mail volume also will reduce inbound first class mail.

We are already concerned about the nonprofit postage rate increases for automation flats. If a box is required to protect the premium, we will have to pay either the new NFM rate or the even higher parcel rate, both huge increases in postage as proposed by the Postal Service, that could be between a 100 percent to a 200 percent increase for our organization. Meanwhile, the USPS states that the cost of a stamp will be at or below the rate of inflation for a typical household.

We respectfully ask that Congress ask the Postal Service to grant us the time to redesign and test new substitute mail pieces that will qualify for rates that are more affordable than the 100 percent to 200 percent higher NFM rates. It is unconscionable to seek such drastic rate increases as our nonprofit faces more needs with less resources.

It takes time to design new materials, new packaging and new premiums and to test them on postal management’s new automated flat sorting equipment. It takes time to make refinements and retest where necessary. Then it takes time to test the new packages with donors and prospects in order to determine if the new packages and the new premiums will generate the returns necessary in order to roll out the redesigned solicitation pieces.

We therefore respectfully request that the Postal Services’ new rates be delayed until the end of the year, and that the rate for the NFM be drastically mitigated in the event that we have no other options.

Respectfully submitted,

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