5-2 Eligible Mailings
5-2.1 Scope of Cooperative Mail Rule
The cooperative mail rule generally applies to all mail entered as Nonprofit
Standard Mail. However, effective November 13, 2003, the Postal Service™
adopted a limited exception to this policy for certain fundraising mail in order
to assist nonprofit organizations obtain the monetary funding needed to
support their programs. Mailings within the exception are not subject to the
cooperative mail rule and are not denied entry at nonprofit rates under that
provision, but remain subject to all other eligibility standards for Nonprofit
Nonprofit Standard Mail is not subject to the cooperative mail rule if it meets
each of the following criteria:
• It is mailed on or after November 13, 2003.
• It solicits monetary donations for the authorized nonprofit mailer.
• It does not promote or otherwise facilitate the sale or lease of any
goods or service.
• The authorized nonprofit mailer is given a list of each donor, contact
information (e.g., address, telephone number) for each, and the amount
of the donation, or waives in writing the receipt of this list.
5-2.2 Eligibility Factors
In order to determine whether a mailing is eligible for nonprofit rates, the
USPS evaluates the answers to these questions (see CSR PS-209):
• Who devised, designed, and paid for the mailpiece?
• Who paid the postage on the mailing, either directly or indirectly?
• How are the profits and revenues divided from the mailing or an
enterprise it supports?
• What risks are entailed with the mailing or with an enterprise it supports
and who bears these risks?
• Who makes managerial decisions about the content of the mailing or
the enterprise it supports?
• What are the participants' intentions and interests?
5-2.3 Commercial Mailing Agent
A commercial mailing agent (or other unauthorized entity) may enter mail at
the nonprofit rates for an authorized organization, if the organization can
show that the relationship is a legitimate principal-agent relationship.
If a question arises whether a mailing is eligible for nonprofit rates, the
authorized organization must provide, on request, documentation of the
relationship that includes all contracts between the organization and other
parties to the mailing and any other information requested by the Postal
Examples: Acceptable Principal-Agent Relationships
Authorized organization O hires commercial mailing agent C at a fixed
fee to print and mail organization O's newsletter at nonprofit rates.
Organization O's name and return address appear on the envelope
containing the newsletter. The envelope shows agent C's permit imprint
number (identified with "Nonprofit Organization," "U.S. Postage Paid,"
etc.). This arrangement is considered an acceptable principal-agent
Authorized university U enters into an agreement with agent A (a
for-profit company) to handle university U's conference. Agent A's sole
function is to plan and manage the conference. For this function,
agent A receives $2,500 (a fixed payment that is consistent with the
amount agents typically receive for such services in that city).
According to the agreement, agent A enters conference-related
mailings for university U at nonprofit rates. This arrangement is
considered an acceptable principal-agent relationship.