Nonprofits: It's Cheaper to Mail Commercial

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Nonprofit periodical mailers are one step closer to not being penalized for their nonprofit status after the Postal Rate Commission, Washington, late last month endorsed and issued an Opinion and Recommended Decision that will help correct an anomaly that was discovered in the nonprofit periodical mailing rates that were issued in the Jan. 10 rate increases: Commercial periodical rates were cheaper than the nonprofit periodical rates.

The discrepancy was found by Phil Clayborn, circulation director at The Elks Magazine, Chicago.

"So many of us were busy just looking at how our rates were increasing and not paying attention to the diminishing difference in mailing rates between nonprofit periodicals and commercial periodicals," he said. "This is important because it marks the first example in the history of nonprofit mail where not only has the difference in rates closed down to nothing but, in fact, the nonprofit rates have exceeded the commercial rates."

The opinion and recommended changes will allow nonprofit mailers to migrate back and forth between nonprofit and commercial mailing rates depending on which is cheaper for them.

Also included is a provision that gives nonprofit mailers the chance to submit dual postage statements dating back to April 9 and apply for a subsequent refund for the difference between the preferred postage paid and the otherwise applicable regular rate.

A number of publishers would like to see the refund effective date pushed back to Jan. 10 when the rate increases were initially handed down.

According to Neal Denton, executive director of The Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, although probably no more than 20 nonprofit publishers were affected by the changes, there is "still enough of them to be a problem."

The Postal Service Board of Governors will meet July 12 and will decide whether or not to approve the recommended decision.

"We fully expect that the Board of Governors will approve this decision," Denton said. "The only decision that still remains is whether the final refund effective date is going to be pushed back to January 10."

Clayborn is happy the issue has been addressed, but is not happy with what it actually means.

"The only thing this decision is saying is that even though I am a nonprofit periodical, I have to pay the same mailing rates as a commercial periodical," he said. "I am happy it was addressed, but there is still a lot of work to do."

Prior to the decision, if a nonprofit publication mailed under the commercial mailing rates, it would have to completely forgo its nonprofit mailing status.

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