Greater Illinois Postal Customer Council
2014 National PCC Week
September 10, 2014
USPS Content Guidelines,
Restrictions and Exceptions
Phil Claiborne, Director of Circulation, The Elks Magazine
Relevant Quotes
“Mystical references to society and its programs to help may warm the
hearts of the gullible but what it really means is putting more power
in the hands of bureaucrats.” ~Thomas Sowell
“Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why.
Then do it.” ~Robert A Heinlein
Standard Mail is “Advertising Mail”
• With Nonprofit Standard Mail we…
Solicit donations
(not adv)
Educate the public
(not adv)
Describe member benefits (1/2 page) (not adv)
Acknowledge Sponsors
• (no contact info, no adjectives)
– Issue Public Service Announcements
(not adv)
(not adv)
…and sometimes mail products or advertisements !
Nonprofit Standard Mail
- Basic premise
• Any product or advertisement must be
substantially related to the qualified
purpose (mission) of the nonprofit.
– Examples:
• Nonprofit Orchestra selling CD's of its performance
• Scientific Org selling its research reports
• Archaeological organization selling tours to excavated sites
– Everything else that can or can’t be mailed is a
restriction, prohibition, exception, or is statutorily
allowed in comparison to this basic premise.
Nonprofit Standard Mail -
Basic premise
• Automatically Substantially Related:
• Gifts or donations offered as prizes or premiums
• Announcement of activities (bake sale, car wash, charitable
auction) if work is done by unpaid members or volunteers.
• Otherwise non-postal law, often tax law,
determines Substantial Relativity
• IRS Unrelated Business Income (UBIT)
• The MAILER certifies substantial relativity
Nonprofit Standard Mail
Substantially related certification in PostalOne!
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Products
• Mailing Products – Statutory Provisions:
– Low Cost Item (no more than $10.40 in 2014)
– Gifted or Donated to organization
– Organization’s own publication
• Meeting basic criteria for Periodicals publ.
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Products
• Premiums
– Front End
• Ex: return address labels
• Free with an outgoing solicitation to induce donors
• low-cost sent to everybody … eligible!
– Back End
• Also promoted to induce member dues or donors
• Mailed after receiving a donation.
• “Ask" must cover 4x cost and 2x represented value, if
Definition of Advertising
Anything that advertises, promotes, offers, or, for
a fee or consideration, recommends, describes, or
announces the availability of any product or
service. 39 USC 3626
All material for the publication of which a valuable
consideration is paid, accepted, or promised that
calls attention to something to get people to buy it,
sell it, seek it, or support it. -USPS
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Advertising
Advertising restrictions, exceptions, allowances:
Travel, Insurance, Financial instruments (TIF)
Cooperative Mail & CFR exception
Meeting the content Req’s of a Periodical
Member benefits
Sponsorship versus Advertising
Lotteries & Raffles
Voter Registration Officials
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Travel
• Travel Advertising
May be mailed if…
– The org is an authorized nonprofit
– The arrangement is designed for members
– Travel is substantially related the nonprofit’s
qualifying purposes
– Based on in-depth analysis, not only on advertisement
– Ex: Review itinerary of arrangement
DMM 703.1.6.4c ; CSR PS-305
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Travel
• ‘Travel’ advertising is defined by three things:
• Transportation
• Destination
• Accommodation (a day trip does not include)
– Unless all 3 are present, it is not ‘travel’ advertising
• Thus, an advertisement limited to an airline fare
discount is not considered a restricted travel
advertisement but “transportation” only.
• CSR PS-298
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Insurance ‘TIF’
• Advertising for any insurance policy is
prohibited unless:
– Valid nonprofit authorization
– Designed for and primarily promoted to members
– Coverage is not generally commercially available
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Insurance ‘TIF’
• Commercially available insurance
generally includes, but is not limited to:
– Homeowner’s, property, casualty, marine,
professional liability (including malpractice),
travel, health, life, airplane, auto, truck,
accidental death, Medigap, nursing home,
and hospital indemnity insurance.
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Insurance ‘TIF’
• Not “generally otherwise commercially available”
– applies to the actual coverage stated in an insurance
policy, not premiums, underwriting, or financial
condition of the insurer.
– Consideration is given to coverage benefits,
limitations, and exclusions, and to the availability of
coverage to the targeted recipients.
– The specific characteristics of the mail recipients
(geo location or demographics) is considered.
– Also not generally otherwise commercially available if
the nonprofit is the insurer themselves.
Nonprofit Standard Mail - Insurance ‘TIF’
Charitable Gift Annuities (CGA’s)
• Annuities are basically insurance to convert a
large lump-sum payment into life-long small,
incremental paybacks.
• CGA's are designed to donate approximately
half the lump sum to the charity while giving
tax benefits to the donor.
• therefore CGA's are not considered "generally
commercially available" insurance for the
purpose of promotion in NP Std Mail.
Nonprofit Std Mail - Financial Instruments ‘TIF’
TIF - Financial Instruments
• Prohibited: Any credit, debit, or charge card or similar financial
instrument or account, provided by or through an arrangement
with any person or organization not authorized to mail at
nonprofit prices (There are no exceptions to this rule).
Credit Cards & the Adjective Rule
• Credit cards by brand, including their logos, may be mentioned as
an option of payment, …but only without any adjectives
describing the card. This is prohibited.
– “Use our ‘low-rate’ affinity credit card that earns you cash-back from all
purchases to donate to our annual fundraising drive.”
Not eligible!
Nonprofit Std Mail - Financial Instruments ‘TIF’
• Advertising for a bank’s services other
than prohibited credit cards or other such
financial instruments may be mailed at
nonprofit rates in Nonprofit Std Mail
meeting the content requirements of a
periodical publication.
Nonprofit Std Mail - Cooperative Mailing
Cooperative Mail
• A cooperative mailing is one by which an
authorized organization arranges with one or
more organizations to share the costs, risks, or
benefits of the mailing.
– Two (or more) organizations may enter a cooperative
mailing at nonprofit rates if each of the parties is
authorized to mail at nonprofit rates.
Nonprofit Std Mail - Cooperative Mailing
• An ineligible cooperative mailing occurs
when not all of the cooperating parties are
authorized to mail at nonprofit rates
• Postage for ineligible cooperative mailings
must be paid at Regular Standard Mail
Nonprofit Std Mail - Cooperative Mailing
Factors considered in determining whether the
cooperative mailing is ineligible:
• Is mailing the product of a joint enterprise or
a principal/agent relationship?
• Who devised and paid for the design and
prepared of the mailpiece?
• Who directly or indirectly paid the postage?
CSR PS-209
Nonprofit Std Mail - Cooperative Mailing
• Cooperative Mail Rule –exception to mail at
Nonprofit Std Rates when cooperating with a
Commercial Fund Raising (CFR) firm to solicit
• The commercial entity may “share” the Nonprofit
Std Mail authorization, when soliciting funds on
behalf of the nonprofit, regardless of their risk,
fees, margins and expectations for the effort.
CSR PS-333
Nonprofit Std Mail -Advertising Exception
• An exception to the Substantially Related
advertising rule allows authorized Nonprofits to
include non-related, general advertising in
their newsletters or bulletins.
• Called the “advertising exception,” eligibility for
the exception requires meeting the “Content
Requirements of a Periodical”
Nonprofit Std Mail -Advertising Exception
Content Requirements of a Periodical Publication in Nonprofit Std Mail:
Have a Title
Published at regular intervals at least 4X per year
Formed of printed sheets
Consist of at least 25% editorial or non-advertising (with
a maximum of 75% advertising)
Have and identification statement including…
Publication title (may appear on the cover instead)
Issue date (may appear on the cover instead)
A statement of frequency
Issue Number (consecutive in a series)
Subscription price, if applicable (optional)
Name & address of known office of publication
NP Std Mail - Sponsorship vs. Advertising
• A business-card-style ad implies…
Individual’s name
Business name
Phone* or email* or other*
• If consideration was paid and contact
information is present, it’s an advertisement
• If consideration was paid and contact in
information is absent, just individual name,
business (& logo), it’s sponsorship
NP Std Mail Business Card Advertising –
Travel ‘TIF’ Implication
• Generic business-card-style advertising –- with
contact information–-is considered an ad for all
the goods or services supplied by the advertiser.
(esp. relevant to TIF rules)
• Ex :
Joe’s Travel
“World’s best travel agent!”
Email me if you want to go places
[email protected]'.
NP Std Mail Business Card Advertising –
Travel ‘TIF’ Implication
• But, for example, if the business-card-style ad
mentions one or two specific elements of travel
alone, it would not be considered ‘travel’
Joe’s Bargain Airfare
“Airline tickets are us!”
Email me if you want to go places
[email protected]
Nonprofit Std Mail - Member Benefits
Member Benefits
• Rules under DMM 703.1.6.7 allow adjectives,
terms, conditions, and brand names to describe
member benefits—including travel, insurance,
and financial instruments such as credit, debit,
or charge cards—to be entered at the nonprofit
rates in certain circumstances. The USPS
adopted the new rules to allow nonprofit
organizations more latitude to use nonprofit
rates to solicit members.
Nonprofit Std Mail - Member Benefits
• Description of member benefits may
accompany a solicitation for funds and must
not exceed ½ the solicitation letter or be
isolated separately on one additional sheet
of paper.
• The solicitation or renewal is assumed to be a
printed letter. Any included brochure,
circular, flyer, or other documents will be
considered advertising if they contain any
advertising, promotional, or application
CSR PS-299
NP Std Mail - Personalization
• Personalized mail must go 1st Class
• Except:
– Inclusion of personal info---for example, last
year's amount donated---for the purpose of
soliciting this year's donation is permissible in
Nonprofit Standard Mail if that is the singular
purpose for the personalization.
NP Std Mail - Personalization
Personalization such as previous years donation information has to be
mailed 1st Class, not NP Std Mail (DMM 243.2.2) unless it contains
• Advertising for goods or services for sale or lease
- or • An explicit donation solicitation
• All the personal info is included solely in support of
the advertisement or solicitation.
If this example were also to include "Save this receipt for tax
purposes," the reference to the addressee's prior year's donation
would have a dual purpose and the mailpiece must go First Class.
CSR PS- 262, 322
NP Std Mail - Personalization
CSR PS-323 “Computer-Prepared Mailpieces
Entered by Authorized Nonprofit Mailers”
– Examples of personalization
– Variations that are considered “solicitation for
– Examples of personalization in support of solicitation
for donation
– Terms that may be used as substitutes to
NP Std Mail - Personalization
The following language in reference to a prior
donation indicates another purpose for inclusion
and will make the mailpiece ineligible for
Nonprofit Standard Mail rates:
– “Tax Receipt”
– “Receipt”
– “Keep this notice as a receipt for tax
– “Keep this for your records.”
NP Std Mail - Personalization
This language will not disqualify the mailpiece for
entry at Nonprofit Standard Mail rates provided
that nothing indicates another purpose:
– “Your contribution may be tax-deductible.”
– “No goods or services were provided in
exchange for this gift.”
– “The IRS requires written substantiation of
charitable gifts of $250 or more”
All Mail Classes - Lotteries & Raffles
• Lotteries & Raffles
• Defined by 3 things (really 4 things):
• Chance (“What are my odds of winning?”)
• Prize (“What do I win?”)
• Consideration (“How much for a ticket?”)
– Ticket - a perforated ticket; a serial number printed on
each side; one you keep, the other-write your
information, tear it off; it goes in a drawing tumbler.
All Mail Classes - Lotteries & Raffles
• Regulated by the US Dept. of Justice
(DOJ), administered by the USPS
• …also the state in which you mail.
– Wisconsin, for example, may not allow the remedy described to break
the federal definition of a raffle for purposes of mailing “tickets.”
• DOJ does not enforce the criminal lottery statute
(18 USC Sec. 1302) against gambling
advertisement mailers if the activity advertised is
legal and the mailing does not provide any entry
materials, particularly tickets.
All Mail Classes - Lotteries & Raffles
• Legal Fundraiser Drawing with “tickets” in the mail:
– Eliminate “Consideration.”
• “Consideration not required to enter drawing. Limit one free entry per person.”
Make the free entry disclaimer in the cover letter.
Print “Suggested Donation $ xx” on the “ticket.”
Do not use the word “ticket.” --anywhere
Describe your financial fundraising goal.
Refer to the “drawing,” not raffle or lottery.
Nonprofit Return Address
• DMM 703.1.5 states the return address on nonprofit
standard mail must identify the authorized organization.
• Often interpreted literally by USPS
• CSR PS-366 (April 2011) says as long as the name and
return address is legitimately the organization’s, it need
not be literally the same as the authorization paperwork.
– Ex: Conservation Institute instead of Conservation Institute, LLC
…is OK
– A legit address of the Org near their fulfillment house instead of
their HQ would be OK
DMM 703 Nonprofit Standard Mail and Other Unique Eligibility
Quick Service Guide 703
Special Standards; Standard Mail - Nonprofit Eligibility
Publication 417 Nonprofit Standard Mail Eligibility (March 2006)
USPS Customer Support Rulings
(All, sortable)
(Searchable) Postal Explorer
.. check "Customer Support Rulings” and enter search term (i.e. "nonprofit")
Problems with USPS Business Mail Entry (incorrect determinations) related to
USPS Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance procedures?
Email: [email protected]
USPS Mailpiece Design Analyst
The MDA Support Center connects customers
with a Mailpiece Design Analyst who will
provide timely assistance and evaluations
of mailpiece design, including Reply Mail.
Phone: 855-593-6093 or send a request
via email to [email protected] Hours of
operation are Monday through Friday, 8
am – 5 pm, CST.
Business Mail Entry
CHICAGO IL 60607-9651
Phone : (312) 983-8460
Fax : (312) 983-8484
6801 W 73RD ST
BEDFORD PARK IL 60499-9651
Phone : (708) 563-7770
Fax : (708) 563-7703
MILWAUKEE WI 53203-9651
Phone : (414) 287-2548
Fax : (414) 287-2500
Direct Marketing Association –
Nonprofit Federation
Senny Boone, SVP
1615 L Street, NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20036
[email protected]
Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers
Stephen Kearney, Executive Director
1211 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Suite 610
Washington, DC 20036-2705
(202) 462-5132
(202) 462-0423 Fax
[email protected]
Contact information
Phil Claiborne
Director of Circulation
(The) Elks Magazine
425 W Diversey Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60614-6196
Ph: (773) 755-4910 direct
Cellular: (414) 520-5593
Fax: (773) 755-4911
Email: [email protected]
Alt. Email: [email protected]
twitter: @nonprofitpostal
Facebook: “Nonprofit postal”

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