us mail box pkgs shutterstock_328329947Despite all of the focus on new fundraising approaches, direct mail remains the most important fundraising channel for a huge percentage of NPOs. That’s why the work the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers does is so important for our community.

In light of this, we thought it would be helpful to give the Alliance the chance to share some critical insights about the important work they’re doing right now. Stephen Kearney, Executive Director, was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

Innovairre: Steve, can you share the mission of the Alliance?

Steve: The Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers focuses on several areas, exclusively for nonprofits. This includes keeping postage rates reasonable and predictable; retaining preferred nonprofit rates for Standard Mail and Periodicals at 40% and 5% discounts; ensuring nonprofit work-share discounts are equal to those on commercial mail; delivery service issues; nonprofit mail eligibility; and the long-term viability of our postal system.

We have spent a large part of the last three or so years fighting to keep the 4.3% exigent postage surcharge temporary, and succeeded in having it removed on April 10. We helped limit the cost to mailers to $4 billion versus the $60 billion present value of a permanent surcharge. We also have worked to ensure that various attempts at postal reform legislation do not include provisions detrimental to nonprofits — including making the surcharge permanent, raising the Consumer Price Index (CPI) cap on postage, and even consideration of removing nonprofit preferred rates.

Innovairre: From your perspective, what is the key issue or issues that nonprofit mailers should be concerned about right now?

Steve: The most important issue on the horizon for nonprofit mailers is the pricing regulatory review that will start on the tenth anniversary of current postal law — December 20, 2016. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is tasked with first determining whether the current postal regulatory system adequately meets all of the objectives and factors in the law, all 23 of them! If the PRC finds that they are not being met, it is empowered to change the regulatory system. The Postal Service already has said that it will try to convince the PRC to remove the CPI price cap and do other things to enhance its “pricing flexibility.” We do not know yet whether that will include reducing or removing the preferred rates discounts that nonprofits now receive.

This regulatory review is likely to last for most or all of 2017 and will require extensive (and expensive) intervention by the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers.

Innovairre: How can nonprofit mailers best prepare for, and support, these critical activities?

Steve: The best things that nonprofits can do leading up to and during this critical period are:

  • Stay informed. Resources include our website (nonprofitmailers.org), Facebook (www.facebook/AllianceNM/), Twitter (@NonprofitMailer), and our bi-weekly newsletter, the Alliance Report.
  • Join the Alliance.
  • Tell your story about the importance of postal mail to your mission as widely and as often as possible.
  • Respond to the call to action we will make in 2017 to file an official statement of your story at the PRC.
  • Share the fact that nonprofits generate one in ten pieces of U.S. Mail and provide critically important content to America’s mailboxes.

Innovairre: Thank you, Steve, for all you and the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers do for our community.

We hope you heed these important messages and ideally support the Alliance, if that’s possible.

Don McKenzie is President & Chief Growth Officer of Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. Contact us at Answers@Innovairre.com; subscribe to our newsletter here; and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.