Cover Story: Opening Their Eyes
"When 'The Move Up' came, and we heard this from the Post Office, I almost freaked out," says Debbie Grossman, executive director of the small Chicago-based nonprofit Blind Service Association (BSA). Her first reaction to the new regulations was, "Oh my God! This is going to be so expensive to us. Is it going to be worth it in the end to do this?"
Grossman couldn't have been alone. While the recession has put tremendous strain on small businesses of every stripe—and perhaps none have been strained more than nonprofits—the USPS has been adjusting to its own changing business with rate increases and ever more specific requirements for mailers to earn work-share discounts. "The Move Up," as Grossman calls it, is the relatively new requirement (it went into effect in November of 2008, but many companies are still struggling to comply) for mailers to perform National Change of Address (NCOA) updates on their lists no more than 95 days before each mailing or forfeit the ability to mail at anything other than full First Class postage.
Such updates may not be an issue for large mailers with regular address hygiene arrangements already in place, but according to Brian Euclide, president of Sun Prairie, Wis.-based TEC Mailing Solutions—which provides the online tools BSA uses to meet those requirements—60 percent of USPS mail volume comes from small businesses mailing less than 500 pieces at a time.
"I've been saying for a long time that [small businesses] aren't being represented," says Euclide, who also represents the United States Chamber of Commerce on the USPS Postmaster General's Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee. "Here's a group of people who are being left in the dust, and now they're being mandated to do some list hygiene."
BSA provides the kinds of services that allow otherwise healthy people who've lost their sight to stay in their homes and out of group care, says Grossman. "They are able to maintain jobs, go to school and live independently in their homes by utilizing our services. [For example,] older persons might come in every week with their bottle of pills, and volunteers will help them sort their pills."