Direct Mail and Nonprofits

Recently, I presented to an awesome group of fundraising professionals about direct mail practices.
Thankfully, I was joined by one of my favorite clients– Tim Richart from Literacy Pittsburgh.

The room was full and the attendees were engaged. And Tim, as their peer, offered valuable expertise.   We talked about the value of Direct Mail—dispensing any myths and extolling its value—but we were preaching to the choir.

Direct Mail is an effective and important tool in any fundraising strategy. Most nonprofits routinely mail at least one time per year, asking for financial support. Some have a dedicated staff person—think Annual Giving coordinator.  

It makes financial sense because if eligible to mail at nonprofit rates, the organization receives steep discounts on postage–almost 50%! For example, currently:
First class letter costs 66 cents ea
Bulk letter is approx. 30 cents ea
But NP can be as low as 14 Cents!  

click here for link to USPS pricing list*m020lu*_gcl_au*MTA0NTgyMzIwOS4xNzAyMzEwOTMw*_ga*MjAzNzY4ODc3Mi4xNjg1NzE5ODQy*_ga_3NXP3C8S9V*MTcwNDgyMzU3Ni41NC4xLjE3MDQ4MjM2MTcuMC4wLjA.

There is an application process to be eligible to mail at nonprofit!—Apply w United States Postal Service!
Not all organizations are eligible to mail at NP rates.  

Once nonprofit mail status is achieved, there are several things to keep in mind of when designing your mail or the post office can reject it:

–Return address must appear on all nonprofit mail (If you move, notify the post office)  

–Address must match what is on file at the post office

–A min of 4 inches is needed for address  

For more information or to request a copy of Direct Mail ABCs—Easy as 1-2-3

contact me,    

Create USPS Informed Delivery Ads

Look what I found in my Email Box–well one of my emails. Like so many of us, I have several email accounts. This lawn company is taking advantage of USPS Informed Delivery Ads!

image of what appears in email box, preview of the mailpiece to arrive in mailbox

Have you signed up for Informed Delivery on the website?

I did and now every day I get a preview of mail pieces that will be delivered to my mail box. I LOVE my mail, of course! and happy to get a sneak peek.

How does Informed Delivery work?

The United States Postal Service® (USPS) digitally images the front of letter-sized mail that runs through their automated mail sorting equipment. USPS is now using those images to provide digital notifications to users in advance of the delivery of physical mail.

What will You see?

You will receive a daily email containing images of up to 10 pieces of incoming letter-sized mail that is arriving soon. These images are also accessible on the Informed Delivery dashboard at Only the first 10 pieces of mail appear in the email at this time. The remaining mail images can be viewed on your dashboard. This measure helps limit the size of emails being sent to users. Additionally, participating mailers can supplement their digital mailpiece with a clickable and interactive color image below the grayscale image, or provide an image to replace the grayscale image.

Some mailpieces (e.g., catalogues or magazines) are not imaged by our automated equipment and will not appear in your Informed Delivery notification. If a scan is detected on these types of mailpieces, users will see a message stating, “A mailpiece for which we do not currently have an image is included in today’s mail.”

For any item with USPS Tracking®, including items such as Certified Mail® and Registered Mail®, you are able to view the delivery status in Informed Delivery notifications. You can also provide USPS Delivery Instructions®, manage notifications, and schedule redelivery from the dashboard and receive USPS Tracking updates for incoming packages via separate email or text notifications.

The dashboard displays mail images for a seven-day period, and package information displays for 15 days after each package has been delivered. Users can opt-in to receive separate email or text notifications with status updates for incoming packages, too.

Informed Delivery is also available to consumers that have a PO Box.

Smart Mailers, like this lawn company, can market to Informed Delivery recipients….

And when I click on the Coupon it takes me to Landing Page like this

landing page that offers more information related to the mailpiece

You don’t have to feature a click through landing page—you can just register an image of your mailpiece and it will offer exposure in recipient’s email box.

To Participate, the process is simple; you create and send the normal hardcopy mail, then provide USPS with your image content and web address. There are two ways you can run informed delivery campaigns:

Ride-along Image and Target URL:, such as the example I show or just

Representative Image, in which, your images are static, they are not clickable. The images must be clearly branded and must be directly related to the hard copy mail piece. Images are optional for letter-size mailings; but required for a flat-size mailing.

Learn more here

Or contact me, Direct Mail Darci

Postage Increase 2020

Most people don’t realize that the price list from the United States Postal Service is over 70 pages! There are countless categories and of mail and within each, size, weight and destination affects the price.

I generally tell people, the postage cost increases if your mail has to travel further distances.

Just take a look at page 16 for First Class Letters and Cards–aside from the weight, there are costs if Automation mail, Machinable vs Nonmachinable. Under Automation the 5-digit, AADC and Mixed AADC refers to the concentration of mail going to the same area.

So postage for a 1 ounce letter mailing can cost anywhere from 38.3 to 42.8 cents each, depending on where the mail is dropped and where it’s final destination is, among other things .

page 16 of the USPS Price List
Notice 123 • Effective June 23, 2019

For this reason, it is helpful to see how and where a postage increase will affect specific categories of the mail.

Thankfully a recent article in the most recent Mailing and Systems Technology magazine offers a visual analysis, How will the January 26 increase affect your budget.

Thanks to Adam Lewenberg’s analysis, we can see the specifics of the Jan 26, 2020 postage increase. Large envelopes weighing more than 2 ounces will be most affected with price increase of 4.3 – 21.4%. In fact, larger sized envelopes will see an increase across the board, especially nonprofit flat sized mail seeing as much as 14% increase.

Please feel free to contact me if you have a quick question about pricing,

The Power of Touch

Sappi North America, provider of fine papers for printing invested deeply to investigate the power of ink on paper and found…



Neuroscientists, psychologists, and other researchers have looked at how people interact with paper, comparing it to their interactions with other media in more than 100 published studies since the early ’90s. These studies dominantly show that people read best on paper for three reasons:

  • it makes content more intuitively navigable;
  • it facilitates better mental “mapping” of information;
  • and reading on paper drains fewer of our cognitive resources, making retention a little easier.

All of this is because paper is a physical, tangible medium. ¶

When you consider memory and comprehension, paper looks even better: studies show that when we read on paper we process information differently, sustaining a deeper level of interest.

Online reading is often purposeful and utilitarian, a kind of information foraging.

But paper directs attention and working memory much differently, with a resulting increase in what neuroscientists identify as knowledge rather than recall. ¶

Even “digital natives” are more likely to remember something longer when they read it on paper.  When touch is part of an experience, it helps shift the brain into the deep level of engagement most conducive to building knowledge.


The Eagleman Lab took this one step further and tested the effects of paper quality, finding that people who read about a company on heavy, high-quality coated paper understood and remembered the content significantly better than those who read on either lighter, lower quality uncoated paper or on a computer screen. What’s more, they had more positive feelings about the company


Change of Address Updating

It is estimated that 40 million Americans move each year and that 8% of all mail is undeliverable because of incorrect addresses.

Because undeliverable mail presents a strain to the USPS, the post office requires that discounted mail (such as bulk mailings) make efforts to have the correct address or use alternative addressing, such as Or Current Resident.

A standard part of our service for our clients is to run their mailing list through the USPS NCOA Link—National Change of Address link.

Our license fee offers us changes that have occurred in the past 18 months. It also identifies questionable addresses and non-mailable addresses. We generally return the results to our clients so they can update their database.

The lists we rent or purchase for our clients are usually already NCOAd by the list company.

There is now a service that will go back 35 years to find and change previous addresses—PCOA Plus—Premium Change of Address. In addition, it tracks name information to resolve multiple names or aliases, such as maiden names or initials

PCOA Plus will also confirm that the name associated with the address is current. And it includes 35-year deceased file processing.

Addressing/sending  mail to a deceased individual can cause anguish and anger to the living relatives.

Consider PCOA Plus if you are trying to find and connect to long lost donors, alumni and/or customers.

Contact for more information.

New Postage Rates effective January 27, 2019

The cost for first class stamp will increase to 55 cents ea on Jan 27, 2019. there are other changes but that is one of the biggest increases. But if you think about it, what else can you get for 55 cents? A letter across the country in 2 business days!

Some more good news is that the cost for each additional ounce in first class mail decreased to 15 cents ea (from 21 cents ea).

Meter (or permit imprint) increase from 47 cents to 50 cents each.

There are increases pretty much across the board of all classes of mail–first class presorted, commercial (bulk), nonprofit and package mail. However, the increases are nominal–and in especially the case of nonprofit mail, still very affordable!

Parcel prices increase 12% as the USPS tries to be more in line with parcel carriers.

Click here for a fact sheet summarizing the changes