The following is a guest post by Holly Goff, production manager at d2design, which specializes in direct mail solutions tailored to churches and their goals.
Chances are, you’re planning to use direct mail at some point in your church’s marketing plan. It’s cost-effective and maintains great response rates:
Once again, direct mail response rates rank stronger than digital channels, sometimes exponentially: at 5.1% for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists, mail response rates consistently exceed the 2% response rate of all digital channels combined.” – IWCO Direct
The fact is, a significant percentage of millennials like mail. It has a built-in emotional response factor. Gallup reported that 36% of people under the age of 30 look forward to checking their mailboxes every day. What’s more, 95% of 18-to-29-year-olds have a positive response to receiving personal cards and letters.” – Forbes
But while direct mail is relatively inexpensive for anyone, churches can file online for USPS nonprofit pricing and lower postage costs even more.
Church Nonprofit Authorization Number
A nonprofit authorization number (NPA) allows an organization to send standard bulk mail (a large quantity of identical pieces, such as a direct mail postcard) at a lower postage price. NPA numbers are FREE, applied for through the post office, and kept on file in a national USPS database. But while useful, it’s sometimes hard to get consistent information about these numbers even at the post office, depending on the branch’s size or the particular clerk you encounter.
Most importantly, an NPA number is NOT the same as a tax ID or a bulk mail permit number. An NPA number proves that your organization is a nonprofit entity and can mail at a lower postage rate. (Note that if you’re mailing on your own, you’ll also need a bulk mail permit, for which you’ll pay an annual fee. However, marketing firms such as d2design typically use their own bulk permit number for your mailings.)
Established Churches: How to Find Your Church’s NPA
If you are an established church that might have done mailings in years past, you may or may not have an NPA number. It depends on whether any of your predecessors applied for one. Call the post office to check. If you are a brand new church plant, you don’t automatically have an NPA number.
Verify Your Information on File
If your post office confirms that you do have an NPA number, verify the church name and address associated with it. This is important because the name and return address on your postcard MUST match exactly what’s on file with the post office.
For example, did you brand yourself as “XYZ Church” in your community, but your legal corporate name is “XYZ Church of the Presumptuous Assumption”? The post office will only use your church’s full legal name as it appears on your Articles of Incorporation that you submit to them.
Church plants sometimes try to use their sending church’s NPA number. This works sometimes, but it’s risky. First, your card’s return address will be the other church’s information. And let’s say your sending church is in Wisconsin, planting your new church in Arizona. That’s confusing.
Second, this discrepancy could cause your cards to be rejected. That’s money down the drain to reprint thousands of postcards. And since your cards are time sensitive, you may not have enough time for the reprint, so you risk missing the window of opportunity altogether.
Get your own number to use when you need it.
Church Plants: Now You Can File Online for Your Church NPA
If you’ve determined that you need an NPA number, file your application and expect to receive it back in 2 to 6 weeks. You can take a completed hard copy of the 3624 application form to your local post office or file online for USPS nonprofit pricing by taking the following steps:
- Register for a free Business Customer Gateway account
- Once you’re registered and logged in, select Mailing Services from the left nav bar
- Select Postal Wizard
- Select 3624 under Complete Customer Service Forms
- Complete the application
You just saved a trip to the post office!
More on Church Plant Postal Permits
- How Much Money CAN Church Plant Postal Permits Save You?
- How to save $530 by not applying for a bulk mail permit but still getting all the benefits
- If you’re going old school, Which USPS paper forms to file, plus filing tips