How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

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Gary_Miller
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby Gary_Miller » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:18 am

jasonfitt wrote:Because what our auxiliary leaderships will do sometimes is just take that member off the HT or VT routes and forget to inform the clerk.

This may happen but it does not take them out of MLS, and they will show up on the next report of members not assigned HT/VT's sent to the bishop.

jwtaber
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby jwtaber » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:31 am

The first clerk training after the Brethren introduced the nine steps for finding lost members, I did a presentation on them with a little more detail. One thing I told the clerks is that each one's best friend should be the Relief Society secretary.

Those of you outside Pennsylvania and its coordinating councils might not be aware of this, but there's now an NCOA/address-checking service called Melissa that only costs $50 for a four-year contract. In my stake, we've asked the wards to set that up, and process that once a quarter now that Salt Lake is sending Address Unknown records back quarterly. I don't think any of them have it quite off the ground yet, but it would be much cheaper than all the postage required for mailing out quarterly newsletters like one of my wards did before (see my post #13).

RossEvans
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby RossEvans » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:50 am

jwtaber wrote:Those of you outside Pennsylvania and its coordinating councils might not be aware of this, but there's now an NCOA/address-checking service called Melissa that only costs $50 for a four-year contract. In my stake, we've asked the wards to set that up, and process that once a quarter now that Salt Lake is sending Address Unknown records back quarterly. I don't think any of them have it quite off the ground yet, but it would be much cheaper than all the postage required for mailing out quarterly newsletters like one of my wards did before (see my post #13).


Without exploring the details, that seems a pretty good price for NCOA processing, expeciallly against the 48-month database. We have been using Anchor Computer's NCOA service annually for that service at a higher cost.

However, I think you need to read the fine print of the agreement you make when you use such processors, whice are licensed to use the USPS National Change of Address database under controlled circumstances. In order to use such a service, I think the user must sign a USPS-required form attesting that he is running this batch of addresses in order to preprocess a list for an actual mailing. So the NCOA service supplements the mailing and makes it more efficient, but I believe the end user cannot use it as a substitute for mailing to the scrubbed list.

Even at $75 minimum per batch, which is what our unit has paid for our annual year-end mailing, the NCOA processing is well worth the cost because of the efficient output. But we still have to do the mailing and pay for the postage.

Edit: The USPS-required form at Melissa is substantially identical to the form we sign for Anchor. (Complete with USPS logo. Only the licensed vendor name is different.) The form says in relevant part:

I also understand that the sole purpose of the NCOALink service is to provide a mailing list correction service for lists that will be used for preparation of mailings.


FYI, here is a link to the USPS list of all vendors licensed to provide the 48-month "full service" NCOALink processing. There are other vendors, typically cheaper, that only use an 18-month database.
Last edited by RossEvans on Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

jwtaber
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby jwtaber » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:22 am

I will keep that last part in mind. But it's not like there aren't still going to be some things mailed out based on membership record addresses in any event. And Melissa plus an annual mailing with a refined address list would still be much cheaper than quarterly mailings.

RossEvans
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby RossEvans » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:38 am

jwtaber wrote:I will keep that last part in mind. But it's not like there aren't still going to be some things mailed out based on membership record addresses in any event. And Melissa plus an annual mailing with a refined address list would still be much cheaper than quarterly mailings.


Agreed. We have never done quarterly mailings. We have routinely done a comprehensive annual mailing. Some ad hoc mailings to subsets also occur, of course.

I'm a big proponent of using one of the NCOALink services. Just reminding all that using such a service does oblige the local unit to do some mailing to the full scrubbed list.

Doing so is in everyone's interest anyway. The belt-and-suspenders approach of the NCOA preprocessing followed by the mailing captures information that the NCOA search alone cannot. For example, the NCOA search will return forwarding addresses, if any, along with address validation, etc. But only a physical mailing will usually return the fact that a particular name is not at the address with no forwarding available.

BTW, I am interested in the attractively priced subscription service by this vendor that you mentioned, but I couldn't find it described on their website. Could you post details, or PM them to me? Is there no additional cost -- per batch, per address, etc. -- beyond the $50 for four years?

jwtaber
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby jwtaber » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:13 am

The short answer is no, there is no additional cost, and the only limit is 33,000 members per batch. In the instructions, it is recommended to set up every member in the unit in the file - easily done with a Custom Report. (That might make it easier for it to catch individual forwarding orders among other things.)

I'd attach the instructions PDF if I could. I'm still waiting for this clerk's permission to post his name and contact information here. In the meantime, anyone can email me directly at jtaberlds@gmail.com and I'll pass along what he's sent me. (One of the folks I've sent it to is the bishop who did the quarterly newsletters by mail - he's now a stake membership clerk himself.)

RossEvans
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby RossEvans » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:44 am

jwtaber wrote:The short answer is no, there is no additional cost, and the only limit is 33,000 members per batch. In the instructions, it is recommended to set up every member in the unit in the file - easily done with a Custom Report. (That might make it easier for it to catch individual forwarding orders among other things.)


If we can run batches as often as we like for that fixed subcription fee, that sounds like a good deal.

I concur that it is wise to process the list on the basis of individuals rather than households. I prepare our NCOALink input batch files that way (formatted as "John Jones" instead of "Jones, John," since that is the common postal addressing style the NCOA parser is probably designed to read) for each head of household and spouse in MLS.

It also would be possible to mail to non-member spouses -- not in MLS -- gleaned from the lds.org directory. In my ward that would yield about 75 additional names added to the list. The content of that physical mailing might be different from what is mailed to members, but that is a judgment call. So far we have not done such a non-member spouse mailing.

In any case, units should be mindful of appropriate content in any physical mailings because someone might actually read it.

The additional twist is that when I do the followup physical mailing for our ward households, to save postage and perhaps get extra USPS database hits on a per-couple basis, I repackage the scrubbed list into households (formatted as "John & Mary Jones").

Gary_Miller
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby Gary_Miller » Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:48 pm

jwtaber wrote:Those of you outside Pennsylvania and its coordinating councils might not be aware of this, but there's now an NCOA/address-checking service called Melissa that only costs $50 for a four-year contract. In my stake, we've asked the wards to set that up, and process that once a quarter now that Salt Lake is sending Address Unknown records back quarterly. I don't think any of them have it quite off the ground yet, but it would be much cheaper than all the postage required for mailing out quarterly newsletters like one of my wards did before (see my post #13).

I don't see the benefit in wasting budget money for this type of service.

RossEvans
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby RossEvans » Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:02 pm

After exploring the website of the vendor (Melissa) that jwtaber recommends, it seems that the deal offered may be even more attractive.

According to the site, if the customer uses the vendor's free downloadable software to preprocess a list, there is no $50 minimum charge per batch file. The advertised fees for the actual processing of small batches (under 50,000) would only be $2.95 per thousand or fraction thereof. I have found no reference to any subscription fee for this service. (The lack of a minimum, or a low minimum, is important to small customers like us, because NCOALink services are mostly used by mailers with lists of thousands or millions of names.)

Haven't verified all this in practice, but I plan to try this vendor for our next mailing. I emphasize that doing the physical mailing to the scrubbed list is still necessary, and the postage for that is still the most significant cost.

jwtaber
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Re: How to use Postal Service to find a forwarding address?

Postby jwtaber » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:49 am

After I brought up Melissa here and we started discussing it, I went back to the clerk in western PA who'd first used it. In response, he said a couple of things:

1. He's working on better instructions than what he gave me before. I will send what you just posted to him and see if that fits in with what he's doing now.

2. While my stake president and I thought doing this at the ward level would give the ward clerks something to do, stake level makes much more sense. (The wards are balking about each setting this up themselves anyway.)


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