Church Plant Postal Permit Filing Tips

church bulk mail permit

Here are things I’ve learned over several years of coaching church planters through dealing with the US Postal Service. If you’re using direct mail as part of your Grand Opening announcement strategy, use these church plant postal permit filing tips:

Apply Early

It can take a couple of trips to your local USPS and a couple of weeks’ processing time, so don’t wait until the last minute. You could save thousands of dollars, so start this process at least a month before you’re going to need to use it.

Only Fill Out this Form

Use postal form PS 3624 to apply for your nonprofit pricing classification. The USPS really prefers you to have your own bulk mail permit first (using form PS 3615), but I’ve helped dozens of planters successfully file the 3624 before having a bulk mail account/permit. Besides, you can save $400 in the first year by not getting your own bulk mail account. Don’t let them talk you into it, but remain polite & friendly (see below).

Since you’ll be working with a direct mail vendor that specializes in helping churches (right?), they may help you complete a PS 3623, but let them walk you through that if they need it from you.

Overdo the Supporting Documentation

They want you to substantiate that you’re really a church. Page three of the 3624 asks you to attach several things (the following numbered list matches the section numbers on page 3 of their form):

  1. Nonprofit Status
  2. Organization
  3. Operation
    • Attach as many from this section as humanly possible, but at the very least be sure to include…
    • Bulletins – yes, believe it or not, I’ve had planters submit a mountain of documentation only to be asked if they also have a bulletin (the thing that makes us all real churches)
    • … and Financial Statements – they really want an audit by a CPA, but I’ve often had success sending planters in with a Balance Sheet and P&L Statement from their bookkeeper

Go Around Back

Go to your main post office branch, not the smaller ones out in the neighborhoods, and not the one inside the grocery store. I usually guess well for my planters by searching for branches that also process US Passport applications.

Don’t take your application in to the front counter! The main branch will have a business mail or bulk mail reception desk around the back of the building. Go ahead and drive right on past those signs that say “authorized vehicles only” and park by the loading docks. You should see signs at that point.

Make a New Friend

All too often my planters have run into postal employees that live up to their organization’s reputation. They’re just doing their job, but each one has some leeway in interpreting what that job is. Sweet talk them into accepting your application even if they think it’s incomplete. They’ll send it on to a central processing center in New York. “I understand you want to do your job well, but can you let this one be on me? If I get rejected, it will be my own fault.” Out of almost 5 dozen applications, I’ve only ever had one get rejected by their central processing facility.

Also, whether you get a friendly bulk mail clerk or not, they will be the same one that’s in charge of getting your postcards out to your community, so don’t make any enemies here.



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