Process: In at least one chapter, the newsletter editor distributes the newsletter by email, but in most chapters other volunteers distribute the newsletter to members by mail and email. The following contains descriptions of how chapters complete the distribution process. Check to see what your chapter does.
Many chapters have volunteers to pick up the printed newsletter from the printer. If the printer does not address the newsletter, the volunteers use labels to apply to the newsletters. The labels are either obtained from NARFE National Headquarters (HQ), then printed by the chapter themselves from the Headquarters database merging that information into MS Word, or printed from a database kept within the chapter. Instructions to print labels using MS Word and the Headquarters database can be found at: http://www.narfe.org/member/articles.cfm?ID=2044&CFID=524252&CFTOKEN=87004623. [NOTE: be sure to login to the HQ site BEFORE clicking on the link above so you will be taken directly to the Tips and Templates document.] Many chapters obtain their labels from HQ. HQ does charge a fee for this service; it is approximately $22 for each set varying by volume of newsletters. HQ recently sent Chapters instructions to print their own labels from the OAM.
Some chapters also put on the seals on the newsletters (small opaque disks put on the edges required by the Post Office), but most chapters have their printers complete this task. If you have trouble obtaining volunteers to work on your distribution, your chapter might want to look into paying for this service. Newsletters now need two seals on their mailings.
Once the newsletters are complete and ready to be mailed, a volunteer usually picks up the printed material for mailing. Then other volunteers help to label the newsletters at this point in the process. The newsletters must be sorted by zip code also, but if the printer addresses your newsletters, they do this as part of that service. Also chapters that print their labels usually sort the labels by zip code before printing, so their newsletters are also sorted when labeling is completed. Once the labeling or addressing is complete, the newsletters are taken to the Post Office for mailing.
Commercial Mail: The United States Postal Service has an excellent website to learn what commercial mailing (or bulk mailing) is all about called “Business Mail 101.” The site found at: http://pe.usps.com/businessmail101/. If you still have questions, go to your local Post Office to discuss any questions you may still have. The licenses that you need and the forms can be found on the Business Mail 101 website. The funds are paid every year; some chapters in a geographical area can share the license. Before a chapter can obtain bulk mailing rates, it must mail 200 or more newsletters. So check on the USPS website and/or your local Post Office for other regulations you might incur. Since USPS regulations change often, Chapter 581 finds changes at http://allrightmailing.com/index.php?page=news. This site lists changes that have been made and details the changes.
There are many regulations associated with commercial (bulk) mailing, so also check with the USPS National Customer Support Center located at: https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=locatorslookups. One is in Baltimore, another in Washington, D.C., so check to see which location handles your commercial mail. The local Business Service Network within the USPS National Customer Support Center can be searched for by zip code on this site. The location contains address and phone number information for your local contact. The representatives at these locations should be able to answer questions regarding advertising and what needs to be included in the process such as title, volume, and number on your newsletter if you include advertisements and any other questions you may have regarding commercial mail. Your local Post Office may also be able to answer your questions. You might want to begin there first.
Advertising: Advertisements within your newsletter also may cause you to add other items to your newsletter before distributing. One chapter said that you must have a volume and issue number on your newsletter if you sell advertising. Another chapter said that the commercial mailing rate is cheaper if you have a title, volume and issue number on your newsletter. As stated previously in Commercial Mail, check with your USPS Business Service Network manager at the USPS National Customer Support Center or your local Post Office to answer these questions.
Process: Many chapters are in the process of converting much of their distribution to email. Most chapters are currently doing both hard copy distribution and email distribution. As an example, one chapter emails their new members with a “Welcome Email” discussing the chapter and attaching their current newsletter letting members know how it will be mailed to them. They do this automatically for new members. The chapter has had no complaints. If the “Welcome Email” goes through without being kicked backed, they are then added to the group email for newsletter distribution. This also is where your chapter might add a question asking how you found out about NARFE and forward the response to your Public Relations and Membership chairs.
Some chapters are having difficulty addressing the email distribution effort, but if they talk to other chapters, they will see that they are not having problems with this process. If you do have people that balk at having the newsletter received by email, simply keep them on the hard copy list. If chapters are not receiving negative feedback, it might be worth trying within your chapter.
Incentives: Another reason to receive your newsletter by email is that you can make your email newsletter LONGER than the hard copy. Include more articles and graphics; it can be as long as you want with no printing charges for increased pages. You could use that as an incentive tool for transitioning your members to email distribution. Chapter 1372 gave this as a suggestion and said it works for them. Let your members know the email copy is longer and contains more information, and hopefully they will WANT to transition to email. A recommendation from Chapter 581 stated to be careful that the email version might become too long if you choose to use a longer version than the hard copy, so they suggest being reasonable in the length of your newsletter if you decide to increase the size of your emailed newsletter.
Another incentive to receive by email is to include graphics and pictures in the chapter newsletter. They show in color on the email copy and your newsletter is more fun to read. So take a look at including color in your newsletter and be creative!