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Customer Support Ruling

   
 

Special Event Fundraising Mailings – Nonprofit Standard Mail
UPDATED January 2006

PS-233 (703.1.6.3)

This Customer Support Ruling discusses the eligibility of special-event fundraising mailings sent at the Nonprofit Standard Mail (nonprofit) rates that show the names or logos of sponsoring organizations.

Postal standards do not contain any blanket prohibition that would prevent material from being mailed at the nonprofit rates, just because it includes an acknowledgment that a special event has been "sponsored by" another organization or shows the logo of the sponsoring organization.

To determine whether material produced for a special-event fundraiser is eligible for mailing at the nonprofit rates, the same rules and criteria applied to other potential cooperative mailing cases should be applied to these mailings.  This means that an in-depth review of the arrangements between the authorized nonprofit organization and the "sponsoring" organization must be performed.  The goal of the review is to answer the following questions:

  • Will the sponsoring party or parties benefit from the special event? (The event should not be designed to benefit the sponsoring organization, other than it may be understood that the sponsoring organization will receive recognition, including mention in the mailpiece in the form of an acknowledgment of the sponsor’s name or logo.)

  • How are the sponsoring parties compensated?

  • How are the profits and revenues from the enterprise (the event) supported by the mailing divided?

  • What risks are entailed in the enterprise supported by the mailing and do the authorized and unauthorized parties share the risks? (The nonprofit organization should be at risk of loss of profit should the event be canceled or fail to generate revenue.)

  •  Are there any other arrangements that may make the mailing cooperative and ineligible for the nonprofit rates?

When investigating the circumstances behind a special-event fundraising mailing, it may be that formal contracts or agreements do not exist.  Instead, there may exist copies of letters of understanding or correspondence that explain the intent and understandings of the parties.  Evidence such as this, in conjunction with answers to questions to determine who paid the preparation, printing, and postage costs; who profits and who is at risk; and, who has management control over the event, should be reviewed to determine eligibility of such mailings.

If the review shows that the mailpiece is the material of the nonprofit organization and that the event is the endeavor of the nonprofit organization and not the product of an arrangement designed to benefit the party sponsoring the event, the mailing may qualify for the nonprofit rates, even though it may mention the sponsorship or show the logo of the sponsor.

 

(Signed)
Sherry Suggs
Manager
Mailing Standards
United States Postal Service
Washington DC 20260-3436