As the country tries to slow the spread of COVID-19 and non-essential businesses are required to modify how they operate, many in our industry are concerned about how this will affect our ability to continue helping our clients to fulfill their missions. In direct mail fundraising, the USPS is the most instrumental tool we have to reach our donors and deliver our message. And it is crucial not only to direct response fundraising, but critical to the infrastructure of the entire country. Authorized and recognized by the United States Constitution, the USPS was of course deemed an essential institution and will remain open and fully operational throughout the remainder of the COVID-19 outbreak.
That said, you may still have a number of questions and concerns related to the USPS as you’re navigating through this unprecedented crisis:
Is mail (and the postal workers who deliver it) safe? What measures are the USPS taking to ensure that it is safe?
According to the USPS, in conjunction with the WHO and CDC, there is no real evidence to suggest that this virus can be transmitted through the mail. On the official USPS website, the WHO is cited claiming that, “the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and been exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.” The CDC also says, “in general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets.”
Regardless, the USPS has designated a special COVID-19 Command Response leadership team that is focusing on employee and customer safety. They have implemented several significant safety measures, including providing ample mask and glove supplies to all locations, ramping up cleaning procedures, updating leave policies for employees, and expanding telework/remote operations.
For the full statement and detailed information on safety measures, you can access this link on the USPS website.
Will my mail deliver? Will it deliver on time and to all areas?
Since the USPS is fully operational, your mail will be delivered and the majority will deliver on time. In fact, domestic postal service has seen only minor operational impacts, none of which should cause significant delays. There could be some more widespread delays on international priority mail.
Since this is a highly fluid situation, the USPS has part of their website dedicated to service alerts. This is a great resource, and it is updated in real time. At the bottom of the page, you will find any potential delays in post office locations in any given state, COVID-19 related or not, with information on an alternate location. So, if one location is experiencing delays, the mail is simply re-rerouted to the next closest location and distributed from there.
You can access the link and all the details here, and as mentioned above, this site is updated daily in real time.
There are rumors that the USPS is running out of money and could potentially be shutting down this summer. Will this happen?
In short, no. Amidst all of the rumors regarding the solvency of the USPS, it is important to remember that the USPS is not just a company, but an institution that is crucial to the infrastructure of the United States. As cited on the USPS website, “the Postal Service is an essential service for purposes of compliance with state or municipality shelter-in-place orders or other social distancing restrictions.” The Postal Service delivers medications, social security checks, and is the leading delivery service for online purchases. The statute that created the Postal Service begins with the following sentence: “The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by an Act of Congress, and supported by the people.” 39 U.S.C. §101(a).
It should be noted that there are legitimate concerns regarding the continued funding of the USPS; however, as noted by The Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, “The debate now is about how to fund and manage the USPS going forward, not about whether or not to let it go under.”
We will continue to provide updates as they become available on this matter.
As we continue to help our clients adapt their fundraising programs, and navigate through these uncertain times, we can rely on the fact that the USPS will continue to serve as a critical institution in our country. As always, THD is here to help nonprofits get through this difficult time. We will keep updating our blog with the latest information and resources on how to keep your mission going through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.