Many, but not all, nonprofits are eligible for reduced postage rates from the U.S. Postal Service. The rates you pay in Nonprofit Standard Mail are approximately 40% lower than the regular rate charged to commercial mailers.
Your organization must meet certain eligibility requirements, submit an application, and receive an authorization at the post office where you will be doing your mailings. There are also requirements for your mail.
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- Determine your eligibility. Nonprofits that are eligible for nonprofit postage include agricultural, educational, fraternal, labor, philanthropic, religious, scientific, and veterans groups. Some nonprofits do not qualify for reduced postage rates, such as automobile clubs, business leagues, chambers of commerce, citizens' and civic improvement associations, individuals, mutual insurance organizations, service clubs, social and hobby clubs, and rural electric cooperatives and associations.
- Submit an application form, PS Form 3624, Application to Mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail Rates, and supporting documents to the post office you plan to use. The required documents include:
- Your organization's "formative papers" such as its articles of incorporation, constitution, or charter.
- Evidence of nonprofit status. This can be the exemption letter from the IRS showing 501(c)(3) or other tax-exempt status, or a financial statement from an independent auditor.
- Also, submit as many as possible of the following documents:
- a list of activities that your organization engaged in during the past 12 months
- a financial statement detailing your organization's receipts and expenditures for the past fiscal year, and your budget for the current year.
- other documents such as your newsletters or bulletins, minutes of meetings, brochures, or other papers that illustrate how your organization operates.
- The Postal Service and the IRS have strict guidelines on what types of mail can be sent using the nonprofit rate, including:
- The mailing must contain a minimum of 200 or 50 pounds of addressed pieces.
- Be prepared according to postal standards in the Domestic Mail Manual
- Include only your own organization's mail.
- The mailing cannot contain certain types of advertising.
- It must be accompanied by an appropriately signed postage statement.
- The mail must identify the authorized organization.
- The following publications and application forms can be downloaded at the Postal Services' website.
- Publication 417, Nonprofit Standard Mail Eligibility, which outlines eligibility rules and application procedures.
- PS Form 3624, Application to Mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail Rates is included in Publication 417.
- Publication 353, Designing Reply Mail, and Publication 28, Postal Addressing Standards are also helpful.
- The Domestic Mail Manual has mailing info for businesses & nonprofits.
- The rules for political groups are more complicated and you should consult U.S. Postal Services Publication 417 to see if your organization qualifies or not.
- Your organization does not have to be a 501(c)(3) or have some other federal tax-exempt status in order to qualify for the Nonprofit Standard Mail rate.
- You can pick up most of the application forms and publications you need at your local post office. The post office can also help explain the procedures.
- As of May 1, 2003, to keep your nonprofit authorization active, you must do a bulk mailing at least once every two years from any facility in which you applied for authorization to mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail rates.