You’re probably aware of the public perception that a non-profit needs to stretch its dollars as far as they will go. Donors will support a non-profit for a cause they believe in, but only if they’re convinced the organization will be spending their money wisely and effectively. For this reason, many non-profits prefer digital efforts at outreach because the average consumer doesn’t consider the research and marketing dollars behind them. However, a direct mail campaign could still be your best solution.
You don’t want people thinking that you are wasting money on postage and you need to avoid pouring unnecessary money into postage. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the real cost of your direct mailings; depending on the size of your organization, you could save thousands of dollars each year by making smarter choices with how you send mail. We’ll tackle the issue of perception in a moment.
Plan Your Campaigns Carefully
You can avoid unnecessary postal fees if you take the time to put a little thought into the logistics of your direct mail campaign.
- Watch the weight of your piece. The non-profit rate permits 3.3 ounces for first class mail without extra charges. At the presorted rate, the Postal Service allows you to mail up to 2 ounces first class. This means, you need to choose your materials wisely. Can you get the same job done with something lighter than what you’ve been using? Is everything you’ve decided to include in the mailing necessary (hint -- it often isn’t)? A little effort in the design stage can save a lot of money when it comes time to mail.
- Watch the dimensions of your mail and envelope design. It’s a well-known fact that postage increases with weight, but some shapes and sizes cost more than others at the same weight. Do a little research and see if the boost in wow factor of the uniquely shaped mailings you’ve chosen are worth the extra postage. Exercise restraint: we know you have a lot to say, but can you fit it all on a reasonably sized piece without using a tiny font? As we’ve mentioned, a wall of text can be an instant turn-off to a reader. Try to say what you want to say directly, to boost your message’s effectiveness and keep down the size of your mailers.
- Sorting, barcoding and organizing your own mail can save you precious time once you’re at the post office. Or, consider using a direct mail service like Boingo to eliminate trips to the post office altogether.
- You can get permission from the United States Postal Service to mail at non-profit rates, a move that could save you the most money of all.
Use an Indicia
An indicia is a rectangle shaped mark that shows postage prepayment for an authorized sender (you, in this case). Used in lieu of a stamp, an indicia shows the permit information used for sending your letter, postcard or envelope. In order to use an indicia, you must mail a minimum of 200 pieces or the entire weight of the pieces must equal at least 50 pounds.
Guidelines for an Indicia
You must place the indicia above and to the right of the delivery address and it must be clearly legible with font no smaller than 4 pt. These four lines in an indicia give the non-profit information you’ve paid for to the USPS:
- Line one simply says “NONPROFIT ORG”
- Line two says “U.S. POSTAGE PAID”
- Line three lists the city and state which hold the permit.
- Line four has “PERMIT NO” followed by the number of your permit.
Savings From an Indicia
The savings you’ll get from using an indicia are fairly large, though they vary depending on various factors. For example, a #10 envelope with an indicia weighing less than 3.3 ounces will ship for as little as $0.136 per piece. If you chose to ship the same envelope first class, your cost would be $1.13. In the end, the indicia saved you 88%, which is nothing to scoff at if your non-profit is pumping out direct mail at the 200-piece rate required to obtain the indicia in the first place. If you multiply that over a year’s worth of mailings, the savings get even more significant.
There are other ways to save with an indicia as well. If you send at least 150 pieces to the same zip code each year, the USPS agrees to charge you a still lower rate. If your non-profit is more regional than local, consider the fact that if you send those 150 pieces to different zip codes all beginning with the same three digits, your rate will be just $0.172 per piece.
With savings like these, most non-profits find that it’s usually worth the extra effort to get their own indicia or use the indicia from a mailing house. An added bonus (this is where we keep our promise to tackle the wasted postage/perception issue) is that use of an indicia not only cements your non-profit status in the minds of your potential donors, but it gives the impression that you’ve either foregone or saved a ton of money on reaching them by mail.
Put It All Together and Save Money
You can meld most of these suggestions to craft the perfect mailing solution for your non-profit, so take a look at all the different aspects of your direct mail campaign and see what your cost savings could be. It will prove worthwhile to get acquainted with the rules and regulations, so be sure to plan your campaigns with postage in mind. Not only will your efforts free more money to go towards your cause, they’ll help convince your donor base that you’re getting the most mileage you can from their donations, making them more likely to donate in the future.
Boingo offers design help or full service solutions for your direct mail campaign and can even organize and automate your direct mailings so you don’t waste time at the post office. Contact us today and see why Boingo is right for you.