Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 34
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
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Proposed Cut in Non-Profits Postal Rates Does Not Sit Well With Local Organizations

Ellen Gilbert

The news of a proposed change (for the worse) in reduced postal rates for non-profits has been disconcerting, to say the least, to the heads of local non-profits.

“A change would affect us quite a bit,” said Princeton Arts Council Executive Director Jeff Nathanson, “We send most or all of our event, exhibition, and other mass mailings at the nonprofit bulk rate.”

Princeton Senior Resource Center Executive Director Susan Hoskins is also worried. “We send Mature Princeton out to 3,100 households every month at bulk mail rates. Not only does this inform people about what we are doing every month, but we include a lot of information about issues that affect lives, like changes in Medicare. We also include information about other local resources. I know that there are many who read the bulletin even though they do not come to programs. We could never afford to pay full first class postage.”

The Postal Reform Act (H.R. 2309), recently introduced in Congress by Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), includes the provision that would cut into reduced mail rates for non-profit organizations.

According to Mr. Issa, reducing non-profits’ bulk-mail discount from 40 percent to 10 percent over a six-year period would eventually save the beleaguered United States Postal Service (USPS) $1.7 billion per year. The Postal Service lost $8.5 billion last year and projects that it will lose $9 billion this year.

The reduced postal rate for non-profits dates back 60 years; current rates went into effect in July, 2007.

Citing the preliminary nature of the bill, Congressman Rush Holt (D-12) has yet to take a formal position on it. “But,” added Mr. Holt’s spokesperson Thomas Seay, “he is troubled by several provisions of it, including the elimination of reduced rates for nonprofit mail and the elimination of Saturday deliveries.”

The legislative process may be in its early stages, but it’s already making headlines. “Measure to Eliminate Nonprofit Mail Discount Could Cripple Fundraising,” noted a recent story in the Huffington Post.

“Many organizations have switched over to electronic newsletters, and we will be adding that option this year,” said Ms. Hoskins, adding, however, that “it is very clear that the population we serve does not look for information on the internet as do younger people. It would be a great loss to older adults to lose this important vehicle for communication.”

“Congress can’t keep kicking the can down the road on out of control labor costs and excess infrastructure of U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and needs to implement reforms that aren’t a multi-billion dollar taxpayer funded bailout,” observed Mr. Issa in a recent press release from his office. The legislation will also remove what he described as “legal hurdles that USPS currently faces when it comes to reducing costs, including allowing financially unsustainable retail postal facilities to be closed.”

The Nonprofit Quarterly recently reported that while “The Association of Fundraising Professionals opposes the part of Issa’s plan that pertains to nonprofit bulk mail … it supports the rest of its provisions, which include eliminating 120,000 postal jobs and moving remaining employees out of federal benefits systems.”

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