How to Respond to the Recent Changes in Postal Rates

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April Clark

As many of you know, the US Postal Service made some drastic changes to their basic philosophy in May of this year. It directly affected the nonprofit prospecting world in two ways. First, the nonprofit permit postage increased approximately 8.9 percent depending on allowed discounts. Second, the rules governing allowed discounts were tightened considerably.

In order for a name and address record to qualify for the nonprofit discount, it must go through the DPV (Delivery Point Verification) processing which means the post office considers it a valid address.

o longer will zip+4 be assigned based on areas. The address must be a valid address before a zip+4 is applied. For direct mail campaign directors and development people, this means that your lists must be clean before they can be mailed at the nonprofit rate. If a piece does not have a zip+4 assigned to its verified address, it is not going to get a discount.

Here are the steps you can take to preserve your nonprofit discounts. These steps should be followed for your in-house databases, as well as for any prospecting lists you purchase in order to receive the maximum allowable USPS discounts:

  • Every quarter it would be wise to run your files through the National Change of Address System (NCOA) and include DPV. The NCOA/DPV will add any recorded change of addresses, identify any non-valid addresses and apply zip+4 to your file. You can then update your database with any changed addresses, delete or correct any invalid addresses and make sure every record has a current zip+4.
  • Every six months you should identify any names who are deceased by bumping your file against the Social Security deceased database. It is very expensive to mail your marketing pieces, so you should make sure you are not mailing to these people. The USPS says that 5% of consumer mail is sent to the deceased. You can make sure that yours is not.
  • Consider periodically using LACS which updates rural route addresses on databases with new 911 addresses as they are assigned. This tool is useful in areas with a high percent of rural-type addresses. ? Conduct a merge/purge between your in-house database and your list of purchased names. You can eliminate interfile and intrafile duplicates from both files.
  • There are also data enhancement-type services available. Such services enable you to add extra information to your current database. You can get an idea of the household income and the ages of people in the household. If people on your lists are homeowners, you can obtain a range of credit scores. You can identify households with multiple children approaching college age.

These are all general ways to cut down on your direct mail expenses and increase yield for recruitment or development. You are encouraged to utilize all of the available technological tools to maintain your direct mail database. Most importantly, regular maintenance will enable you to effectively respond to the recent postal changes.

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