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From Sneakers to Stamps: how customization can help boost your fall fundraising style

Production Solutions

Over the summer, I read a great article in the New York Times about the boom in customized sneakers. Elizabeth Spaulding, a retail partner at consulting firm Bain & Company cited not only the growing demand for customized kicks, but referenced popular restaurant chains like Chipotle where customers can build their own meals.

Constituents, like customers, are looking for things that speak to their individualism; from building their own burrito, to deciding which causes get their support. I sat down with our resident expert, PS|PS Digital Senior Resource Manager Darin Marks, to get some insights on cost-effective ways our nonprofit partners can capitalize on customization.

“I noticed several of the 2015 DMAW Maxi Award winners included custom stamps,” said Darin. “So I compiled a list of need-to-knows to help our clients better understand the opportunity.”

  1. Custom stamps can be produced on machinable rolls; therefore mass quantity is not a problem.

    Customization – typically thought of as a one-off, or very select opportunity – is now scalable! If you’ve got a large house file or a small prospect list, custom stamps are an on-budget idea that can work for your individual audience size.

  2. Custom stamps are only available at full rate first class.

    This makes them 25-45% more expensive than traditional First Class Letter Postage Stamps (including printing, postage cost, shipping and insurance).

    Ways to keep those costs low include: working with a full service print and mail partner to eliminate shipping costs, and getting the most bang for your buck by using custom stamps on mailers that already require first class postage – like premiums and multi-insert packages. 

    Other low-cost alternatives include: 

    Custom Indicia – A standard indicia that also includes a custom picture printed to the left of the indicia box. There is no additional cost to add a picture to the left of the indicia; however there are some simple rules that need to be followed. It is also suggested that the Postal Service approves all custom indicia before they are printed. 

    400x400_1300890763770-zazzlepostagestampAsset.v7.en  Picture Permit Indicia – This indicia allows for a picture to be included in the center of the indicia block.  The picture must be at least 2 colors and must have some type of relevance to the organization. (A picture of a  hamburger for McDonalds would qualify, but a picture of a hamburger for American Heart Association would  not.) The additional cost for this picture Permit Indicia is $0.021/each for non-profit standard mail. The rules  for Picture Permits are a bit more cumbersome; contact a member of our business development team   for help in determining if this is right for your campaign.

  3. It takes 7-10 days to produce the stamps (at a quantity of 30,000) and another 3-days for delivery. Larger quantities will increase the turn time.

    With a relatively short turn time, custom stamps can be included as a finishing touch to a year-end or planned giving mailing. Look to create and proof your stamps in mid to late summer as you determine your list size and message.

  4. Typically the mailshop covers postage spoilage; with custom stamps, a refund is not possible, so any spoilage at the mailshop is wasted postage funds. The typical stamp spoilage is 1%.

    Any potential waste is a concern for nonprofits, but understanding potential risks upfront can help in budget planning. While custom stamps are probably not the best idea for a large acquisitions mailing, they might be just right for your higher dollar donors or those mid-level donors with potential to increase.

Have more questions on how customization can work for you? Contact a member of our team today and let’s talk about your options!