USPS to Open Can of Nonprofit Worms?

The Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers reports that the U.S. Postal Service next week will dismantle its cooperative mailing rules, which governs the use of preferred postal rates in fundraising mail due to political pressure from commercial fundraising firms. As a result, Alliance executive director Neal Denton says that the USPS will likely exempt all fundraising solicitations from the Congressionally-imposed ban on cooperative mailings.

This, in turn, “will open the floodgates to abuse, if past experience is any guide,” Denton says. “Unscrupulous commercial fundraisers, acting in the name of unsophisticated or captive nonprofit organizations, will flood the mails with fundraising solicitations designed primarily to line the fundraisers’ own pockets.” As a result, as nonprofit mail volume will soar, “we fear that two or three years from now, complaints from outraged consumers may trigger a political firestorm that could threaten the very survival of nonprofit rates,” he says.

The USPS has ignored a consensus proposal put forth by such industry groups and fundraising outfits as the Direct Marketing Association, Independent Sector, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, among others. The proposal would have enabled smaller nonprofit organizations greater fundraising flexibility while helping protect against abuse of the preferred fundraising postal rate “privilege,” Denton says.