Would you pay more for a postage stamp if the extra money went to support a cause you consider important? Many people would, and do. It’s the idea behind semipostal stamps. You may be familiar with the Breast Cancer Research semipostal stamp, but might not know about its history or the semipostal stamp concept.

The U.S. Postal Service sells semipostal stamps with a surcharge to raise funds for a specific cause. Congress can authorize a semipostal stamp through legislation, like the breast cancer stamp, or the Postal Service can introduce one. There have only been four total in the history of the program, which started in 1997 after Congress passed a law directing the Postal Service to issue the Breast Cancer Research stamp. 

Today, semipostal stamps sell for 60 cents, or 11 cents above the full First-Class stamp price. The Postal Service transfers revenues from the sale of semipostals – minus postage and a reasonable reimbursement of costs – to a selected agency or agencies. For the breast cancer stamp, which recently got reauthorized when President Obama signed into law the Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act, which means 70 percent of the net amount raised is given to the National Institutes of Health and 30 percent is given to the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense. As of August 2015, the breast cancer stamp raised over $80.9 million for breast cancer research. 

The Postal Service recently proposed some changes to how it issues semipostal stamps, including clarifying what the cap is on the number of semipostals being sold at the same time. Previous regulations limited the Postal Service to one semipostal in circulation at a time. The January 22 Federal Register notice draws a distinction between congressionally directed semipostals (like the breast cancer one) and those approved by the Postal Service, which it calls “discretionary” stamps. The Postal Service intends to sell discretionary semipostal stamps only one at a time but they could be sold with one or more congressionally approved semipostal stamps.

What do you think of the idea of semipostal stamps? Have you ever bought one? What cause would you choose to see supported by a semipostal stamp? 

Comments (426)

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  • anon

    As a colon cancer survivor who was diagnosed at the age of 34 with no family history of the disease I would be thrilled to see colon cancer awareness stamps!

    Oct 10, 2017
  • anon

    An Alzheimer's stamp

    Aug 01, 2017
  • anon

    Please create a Alzheimer's stamp at a higher price to help fund research at the NIH! Over the last 100 years, we have made great strides in the research of other diseases. Since 2001, HIV deaths are down 54%, and deaths from heart disease (the #1 killer in the us) are down 14%. Other disease such as stroke, breast cancer, and prostate cancer have seen a decrease in deaths since 2001 as well. However, since 2001- Alzheimer's deaths have risen by 89%. (Source: Alzheimers Association 2017 Facts and Figures report- can be found at ALZ.org/facts). We must fund Alzheimer's research. One was to do this is with a postage stamp that costs more (like the breast cancer stamp) and have the proceeds go to the NIH. Please help us #endALZ!

    Aug 01, 2017
  • anon

    As someone who's grandmother is living with Alzheimer's related dementia, I see the horribleness of this disease first hand. Over the last hundred years, we have made significant strides in the research of other diseases. According to the Alzheimer's Association 2017 Facts and Figures report (which can be found at ALZ.org/facts), deaths from HIV have decreased by 54% since 2001. Deaths from the leading killer, heart disease, also decreased by 14%, as well have deaths from other diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and stroke. However, deaths from Alzheimer's rose 89%. Right now, Alzheimer's is the only leading cause of death (#6), that cannot be cured, prevented, slowed, or stopped. It is the most expensive disease in the nation- costing the US over a quarter of a trillion dollars this year. With the rise in dementia patients, this will rise to over a trillion dollars annually in just one generation (by 2050). Alzheimer's is also known as the disease that could break Medicare. We must do something to #endALZ and dementia- now. Please create a stamp at a higher price for Alzheimer's and dementia to raise funds for research at the National Institutes of Health. Thank you so much!

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    Ansolutely in support! Years of experience in our home with Alzheimer family member, only hit brick wall after brick wall as we were told...difficult to answer/assist/etc., due to limited research funding. In full support

    Jun 11, 2017
  • anon

    Yes, I believe semipostal stamps are a great idea and I've been purchasing the Breast Cancer stamp for years. I did not know it was authorized through legislation nor did I know there were four. I will look them up. I would like to see one for Alzheimer's, other dementia and Autism.

    May 17, 2017
  • anon

    Please consider supporting the Search for a cure for Alzheimer's with a stamp, this disease needs more support and having a stamp will raise awareness. Alzheimer's takes away your ability to remember what once was so important to the person that has it, and for the family it takes everything, the saddest part for me was when my dad no longer knew me as his daughter, I believe he knew I was someone who loved him and was there taking care of him being someone he saw all the time but no longer as his child. My daddy passed away August 25, 2016 on his 82nd birthday and I miss him dearly, Thanks postmaster I hope you will make this stamp a reality.

    May 16, 2017
  • anon

    Dear Postmaster General Brennan: I urge you to exercise your authority to issue an Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and Research semipostal stamp. In July 2016 fellow advocate Kathy Siggins filed the requisite paperwork with your office. All of the major Alzheimer’s advocacy organizations – Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, The American Academy of Neurology, and UsAgainstAlzheimer’s – as well as countless citizens have joined us to support this action and 415 private citizens have left favorable comments on your blog, “Putting A Stamp on Good Causes”. In the year that has passed, more than 470,686 Americans have been diagnosed with this cruel and always fatal disease. Still we have not heard from you. First described over 100 years ago, Alzheimer’s is now recognized as our nation’s 3rd leading cause of death and the only illness among the top ten for which there is no known prevention, treatment, or cure. The disease has a staggering reach: Roughly one out of every five of us is at risk of developing Alzheimer’s in our lifetime. Caring for those with Alzheimer’s costs the United States an estimated $236 billion each year in addition to the tremendous personal costs borne by families. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase from the 5.3 million age 65 and older currently affected. With a problem of such magnitude we must use every means available to move us swiftly towards a cure. The Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp is a highly symbolic method to raise awareness and allow ordinary citizens to show their support for individuals and families impacted by this devastating disease. As importantly, it would help raise much needed funds for medical research through the voluntary purchase of postage stamps with no appreciable cost to the taxpayers. An Alzheimer’s Disease Semipostal Stamp would raise both awareness and funds and move us closer to prevention and a cure. On behalf of the the more than 5.3 million Americans suffering with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, their 15.5 million unpaid caregivers, and those yet to be diagnosed, I urge you to take action and provide hope where so little hope exists.

    Apr 25, 2017
  • anon

    Please issue a postage stamp that will raise awareness & funds for Alzheimer's. This disease is a death sentence and currently there is no cure. My mom died Dec. 31, 2016 after battling this disease for close to 10 years. Her mother passed away from this disease also in 1988. Thank you.

    Apr 01, 2017
  • anon

    Please consider supporting the Search for a cure for Alzheimer's with a stamp. I would gladly pay extra and use it exclusively to support the cause.

    Mar 13, 2017
  • anon

    Very Cool Post and outstanding article. Thanks author your Awesome tropic and Excellent information. I appreciate your Valuable Content and Looking forward to read your Upcoming post.

    Mar 12, 2017
  • anon

    Please consider an Alzheimer's Awareness and Lyme Disease awareness stamp. Both are devastating chronic illnesses that affect many families. Funding for research, care, and caregiving resources are desperately needed. I have chronic lyme disease and am caring for my father who has alzheimer's. Both of these diseases are devastating and alienating for the patient and family. There is not enough out there to help people who are facing this. Thank you for any mercy and consideration you give.

    Feb 27, 2017
  • anon

    You have issued so many different stamps. Please consider issuing one so that more funds go to research a cure for Alzheimer's. It is too late for my husband, I worry about our children and grandchildren plus so many people who have the gene in their family. Please please consider this.

    Dec 15, 2016
  • anon

    Raise awareness for Alzheimer's. It is just a horrible disease. Please issue a stamp.

    Dec 15, 2016
  • anon

    Please issue an Alzheimer's disease stamp

    Dec 15, 2016
  • anon

    I would like to see a discretionary stamp that supports Alzheimer's Disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death and is currently the most costly disease in America. I had a loved on afflicted with this disease and it was devastating. Everywhere I turn, someone knows someone with Alzheimer's. Having a stamp that could be purchased for a small extra cost where a portion would benefit those afflicted, caregivers and researchers would be awesome and greatly appreciated. Family savings are wiped out due to this disease and whatever we can do will help. Together we can and will make a difference. Please support this cause.

    Dec 08, 2016
  • anon

    I think you will be amazed at the passion and demand for a cure for Alzheimer's and related dementias. I strongly urge you to approve this fund raising stamp ASAP. Thank you!

    Dec 07, 2016
  • anon

    I'm the caregiver for my beautiful wife, living each fading day with young onset Alzheimer's. This disease has cut down her life, our lives, in the same way that it has cut down the lives of individuals and families all across the nation. It is frighteningly horrific, furiously angering, and depressingly saddening; but that is not why we need a new stamp. We need a stamp for the benefit of continuing to inform and encourage our entire nation to the need to take action. No one knows that they are immune, so no one should ignore the potential that this disease could wreck them or the lives of their family. The need is only worsening and we need to use every means available to remind the nation that this is a national risk to our families, to our economy, and to the well-being of generations yet unborn. Please support all of us fighting for the highest and most sharply focused priority on Alzheimer's disease by publishing a clear, attention-getting stamp on our behalf.

    Dec 07, 2016
  • anon

    The time is now to bring even more awareness to this disease that has no cure! My friend, Kathy Siggins, has worked tirelessly for so many years for this cause and what an awesome gift to so many would this be to have a stamp for AlzheimerÔÇÖs Disease.

    Dec 06, 2016
  • anon

    As a former caregiver I know how stressful the holidays can be for those who are caring for their loved ones and for those who have Alzheimer's. Gene passed away on January 24, 1999, after a 13-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. It was August of that year that I began working on establishing a stamp that would raise awareness and/or funds for Alzheimer's research. The petition that I began in 2000, which eventually went national then global with everyone's help, collected a total of 84,777 signatures through 2007. In June 2016, the remaining 72,600 signatures were finally delivered to the USPS with a new proposal and letters from national organizations in support of establishing an Alzheimer's Disease Research Semipostal Stamp. Even with legislation introduced in six (6) congressional sessions, we are the closest we've every been. I am anxiously waiting for the announcement from Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan on her decision on a new semipostal stamp. What a great Christmas gift of hope that would be if Alzheimer's is selected.

    Dec 05, 2016
  • anon

    A stamp needs to happen THIS year! Please!! We have all fought so long for this and it would be such a game changer in raising awareness, and more importantly, FUNDING for research and assistance for victims and their caregivers! Why does the Susan G. Komen Association get the ONLY opportunity? The USPS doesn't lose a thing on this initiative -- why not? WHY NOT?

    Nov 02, 2016
  • anon

    Please, please consider a stamp for Alzheimer's Disease. It is time that this disease is stamped out for good. More federal funding is needed to find a cure to a disease that costs so very much in medicaid cost AND many families are stricken with unpaid care costs. This disease can be stopped. Please be a part of the prevention and cure! My mother has Alzheimer's and I never knew how much I could miss someone that is sitting right next to me. She deserves so much more in her last years of life.

    Oct 22, 2016
  • anon

    Please stop to consider a semipostal stamp to help Support research for the killer disease Alzheimer's / dementia. There are far more deaths now from ALZ than breast cancer.

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    We need a stamp where money is ear marked to support research for Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias.

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    The post office should sell a stamp where the money is donated to Alzheimer's and other dementias for research for a cure.

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    We need this stamp to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer's. Such a horrible disease. Just to watch a person live this horrible disease everyday. I did , and I cannot imagine what the person was feeling. Lost my husband to it, grandmother 7 months before him, uncle and 2 great aunts living with it now. NO WORDS !!

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    Support of Alzheimer's Disease research

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's is a disease that affects so many. The money raised could be used for much needed research.

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    At this time, there is NO CURE for Alzheimer's and other related dementias. It's time for the USPS to issue a stamp to help stamp out Alzheimer's and ORD's!

    Oct 17, 2016
  • anon

    There needs to be a stamp for Alzheimers. My mom just passed a month ago. Seeing her go through this journey was not easy. There are more deaths from Alzheimers than breast cancer. There is is no cure or survivors from Alzheimers. At least with cancer you have a chance. With Alzheimers, there is no chance. Its a slow death sentence when one loses themselves within themselves...

    Oct 17, 2016
  • anon

    I support the idea of semipostal stamps, particularly for health related issues and diseases. Alzheimer's Disease is the 5th leading cause of death in our nation and the most expensive disease in our nation to treat. NOW is the time to have a stamp for Alzheimer's Disease. The revenue from stamp sales would help support much needed funding for research, preventative treatments and cures. Please work with congress to help approve a stamp for Alzheimer's.

    Oct 17, 2016
  • anon

    Yes. Alzheimer's

    Oct 17, 2016
  • anon

    We need an altzeimers stamp

    Oct 17, 2016
  • anon

    Please create an Alzheimer's Awareness stamp. As a daughter and granddaughter of Alzheimer's disease, the more research dollars going for a cure directly affect the future of not only my family, but for millions of others.

    Oct 15, 2016
  • anon

    Buying an AlzheimerÔÇÖs support stamp is a relatively painless way for people to make a contribution toward ending a disease that touches nearly everyone in some way, if only financially through their health care premiums. Alzheimer's research is helping scientists learn more about the brain which will help end other cognitive diseases as well. Let's make this happen.

    Oct 15, 2016
  • anon

    A stamp to promote awareness, education, research and eventual cure of Alzheimer Disease would be a terrific service to our communities, victims and caregivers, please consider it asap.

    Oct 14, 2016
  • anon

    Please consider issuance of an Alzheimer's Disease postal stamp designed to create additional funds for research and development in the battle against Alzheimer's Disease.

    Oct 12, 2016
  • anon

    My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 5 years ago. Both of his parents and paternal aunt had Alzheimer's. Better research is needed to help our children and grandchildren. Please approve the Alzheimers semi postal stamp!

    Oct 12, 2016
  • anon

    After taking care of my grandmother with Alzheimer's has been one of the hardest things to do. Please make the Alzheimer's stamp this is not something people see everyday and most people think it's just age and it is Not!!

    Oct 12, 2016
  • anon

    My son, Jeff, is 52 he has Early On-set Alzheimer's. He can no longer work. We need to find a cure for Alzheimer's. Please create a stamp for Alzheimer's .

    Oct 09, 2016
  • anon

    Please issue a stamp to help fund and raise awareness and research for Alzheimers. This disease is a health crisis in the shadows. This stamp would bring Alzheimers into the sun light and expose the devastation this disease takes on the patients and their families.

    Oct 04, 2016
  • anon

    I have purchased Breast Cancer semipostal stamps.Please issue a semipostal stamp to support Alzheimers. This dreadful disease needs urgent help with funds to find :a cause, cure, and prevention.

    Sep 26, 2016
  • anon

    USPS Please issue this stamp to help fund research for Alzheimers Disease. This terrible disease has affected generations in my family. It devastates not only the person who has it but everyone who loves and tries to care for them. It's too late to help my dad, and it may be too late to help me, my brother and cousins, but it's not too late to help the next generation of our family.

    Sep 26, 2016
  • anon

    This is beautiful in its simplicity...a stamp to bring awareness and funding to end this horrible disease. Alzheimer's has devastated far too many whether they are patient or caregiver.

    Sep 25, 2016
  • anon

    I would if it was to support finding a cure for Alzheimer's. I just recently lost my papaw, my best friend that battIed the horrible Alzheimer's disease to almost 15 years.

    Sep 23, 2016
  • anon

    Please, please issue a semipostal stamp in support of Alzheimer's Disease research. This condition affects so many people, and that number will only continue to rise as the population ages. This is a cause that deserves help from every front.

    Sep 11, 2016
  • anon

    I would love to see a stamp for congenital heart disease. It is the #1 birth defect in our country; 1 in 100 babies are born with this and a stamp would help raise awareness!

    Sep 10, 2016
  • anon

    I've bought both the Breast Cancer & Altzheimers Stamps. They raise awareness, bring in some money and are therefore a great public Service! They are well worth the extra cost!

    Sep 08, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's aware stamps! These would be the only stamps I would purchase. Yes I purchase breadt cancer ones on occasion.

    Sep 07, 2016
  • anon

    My husband has Alzheimer's I can very truly support the stamp

    Sep 07, 2016

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