Everything a Nonprofit Needs to Know About Bulk Mail

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

Everything a Nonprofit Needs to Know About Bulk Mail

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

If you run a nonprofit, you're certainly looking to cut down on expenses any way you can. The good news is you can get a discounted rate on mail sent via the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Man using a red pen to address envelopes at a table with a glass of water and laptop

Whether you can take advantage of this discounted mail rate for nonprofits will depend on your organization's eligibility and the content of the mail that which you are seeking to send.

Qualifying Organizations

Pursuant to USPS regulations, there are eight types of organizations that are eligible for discounted nonprofit mailing rates. The eight types are organizations classified as: (1) religious; (2) educational; (3) scientific; (4) charitable; (5) agricultural; (6) labor; (7) veterans; or (8) fraternal.

Additionally, certain voter registration officials and political committees may also qualify for the discount.

How to Apply

You will need to file an “Application to Mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail Rates" with the USPS to mail at the reduced nonprofit rates. There is no fee associated with filing as it's a free service offered by the USPS, but it may take a few weeks for the USPS to process your application. You should include documentation from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) showing your organization is a 501(c)(3) exempt organization, but this documentation alone will not guarantee you meet all USPS criteria.

The USPS will examine your organization's primary purpose, ensure the organization is not organized for profit, and look into whether the organization's profits are benefiting an individual or private stockholder.

How to Send

Mail sent at the discounted nonprofit rate is processed and sent the same way as other USPS mail. However, you must include certain markings on your mail to indicate that it's coming from a nonprofit. The words "nonprofit organization," "nonprofit org," or "nonprofit" must appear on the mail in a specified location. You should also include your organization's name on the envelope and letter.

It is important to note that you can only get the discounted rate for domestic mail and not for international mailings.

Eligible Mail

You are required to comply with USPS and federal guidelines regarding the content of your mail sent at the nonprofit rate.

These guidelines are somewhat convoluted, but basically your mail cannot sell something for a profit or you will lose your ability to take advantage of the reduced nonprofit rate.

Permit to Send Out Bulk Mail

The discounted rate is available for mailings you send out in bulk. You must send out at least 200 pieces, or 50 pounds, of identical mail in order for it to be considered “bulk mail." Whoever is sorting and addressing your mail will need a permit prior to sending out bulk mail.

If you utilize a third party to send out your mail and the third party already has a bulk mail permit, you will not need to obtain your own bulk mail permit and you will still be able to use your nonprofit discount. If you are sorting and addressing your mail on your own, you will need to obtain a bulk mail permit prior to sending out anything. There is a fee associated with obtaining the bulk mail permit.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.