I highly recommend even small nonprofits use a mail house when an appeal is over 200 pieces or when you have variable data (a unique name and address and salutation on each letter), as most every good fundraising appeal should. In my recent cost analysis of mail house vs. staff or volunteer to manage a mailing project, the mail house was more cost effective every time. Here’s why:
- Significant staff time is necessary to organize and manage the volunteers and navigate the complex bulk mail system. Fundraising staff time is better spent fundraising, and engaging donors rather than managing a mail program.
- A professional mailhouse is less likely than chatty volunteers to make errors in collation, like the addressee on a letter getting into the wrong envelope, for example. You really want to avoid that!
- Printing in-house is time consuming, frustrating, expensive (ink and wear and tear on your equipment), and error prone. It will truly make you insane.
- Most sophisticated mail houses use advanced, specialized technology for complicated sorting and automation (adding a bar code) that allows a mailing to qualify for even further reduced postage prices.
- Instead of doing everything by hand, a mail house uses machines to fold, insert, seal, tab and even sort letters. Most will even print your text on the preprinted letterhead you supply and can inexpensively print your organization’s indicia on envelopes when necessary. They will pre-sort your mailing list as well as the outer envelope ready to go to bulk mail.
- Your mailhouse will run addresses through the National Change of Address Association every time you do a mailing. This saves you money from sending to bad addresses and keeps you from losing donors who don’t get your mail piece.
- You may not know this but nonprofits do not need to have their own mailing permit/ account with the USPS when they use a mailhouse. As long as your organization is a 501(c)(3) certified nonprofit, the mailhouse can use their own mailing permit to secure the lower nonprofit rates. You do not need to pay an annual permit fee or worry over making a deposit in your USPS account at the time of your mailing. The mailhouse will just invoice you for the postage.
Find a good mailhouse. It is cheaper, faster, and you will enjoy your job more!
Do you disagree? Let us know…