In addition to your community service and word of mouth marketing, you’re thinking about sending out direct mail postcards to your community to announce the Grand Opening of your church plant. You could potentially save thousands of dollars in one mailing with church plant postal permits.
A 1st class postcard stamp costs 35¢ these days (Summer 2018). You do get priority delivery, but if you want to mail 20,000 pieces, you’re looking at a tab of $7,000 just for the postage. Yikes!
Church Plant Postal Permits: Bulk Mail
The US Post Office allows any business or organization to get a bulk mail permit. If you’re mailing more than 200 identical pieces, you get a discounted rate. Their pricing formula defies understanding, but the gist of it is that the more work you do for them (sorting, etc.) the lower the postage price they give you.
If a business hits all of the post office variables right, they can get postage in the 16¢ – 20¢ range! Now 20,000 postcards can cost you as little as $3,200. Woohoo!
There are some trade-offs, though:
- One of the factors is mail route ‘saturation’: every box on the carrier’s route must get a card
- You don’t get priority delivery: the carrier technically has a 2 week window to deliver the cards (but they usually hit on days 2 and 3)
- There’s a $225 application fee and a $225 annual fee, so you’re out $450 in the first year (find out how to save the $450 below)
The Double Discount for Nonprofits
But wait, there’s more! The Post Office offers nonprofits an even lower rate, a sort of double discount. Now if you hit all of their formula just right, your postage can be as low as 8.3¢ each (as of 2018). So mailing to the same 20,000 families now costs only $1,660 in postage. Woah!
Applying for the nonprofit discount is tricky, though, because new churches are in a catch 22: you want the discount to announce your Grand Opening, but the Post Office says you’re not a church until you’ve had your Grand Opening.
Having your 501c3 Determination Letter from the IRS smooths this over, but most brand new churches won’t get that back from the IRS in time.
The USPS came to a compromise, though: “If an IRS exemption letter is not available, a complete financial statement from an independent auditor (such as a CPA) substantiating that the organization is a nonprofit [can be submitted].” Wow, that’s not burdensome to young churches at all.
We’ll deal with all of that in this series:
More on Church Plant Postal Permits
- How to save $450 by not applying for a bulk mail permit but still getting all the benefits
- How to Get a Church Nonprofit Authorization Number, including how to apply online (coming soon!)
- If you’re going old school, Which USPS paper forms to file, plus filing tips