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)

  • anon

    I purchased the breast cancer stamp and I would love to see an Alzheimer's disease stamp as the next cause.

    Aug 31, 2016
  • anon

    We must do everything we can to treat and cure the 5 million+ who have ALZHEIMER's and the millions more who will likely develop it in the next 10-20 years (baby boomers)! Please approve this stamp to allow everyone who would like to voluntarily purchase these stamps to do so to raise additional funds for research. Research is our only hope for prevention and treatments.

    Aug 30, 2016
  • anon

    Please do one for Alzheimer's. This really does have the potential to be the biggest cost for health in this country this century.

    Aug 29, 2016
  • anon

    This stamp is very important. Just think of the money that could be raised to fund research for Alzheimer's. We need a cure for this disease. Is is so devastating. I lost my husband and grandmother to this horrible disease. I have two great aunt's who are suffering from this disease. Please consider the Alzheimer's stamp.

    Aug 21, 2016
  • anon

    Please approve this stamp to allow everyone who would like to voluntarily purchase these stamps to do so to raise additional funds for research. Research is our only hope for prevention and treatments.

    Aug 21, 2016
  • anon

    A stamp to help stamp out Alzheiner's is a great thing. I work up close and personal with people living with ALZ and it's devestating to the person and their loved ones.

    Aug 20, 2016
  • anon

    Glad to know this semi postal stamp is finally getting some attention. It is long overdue and I will definitely buy it.

    Aug 20, 2016
  • anon

    Please create and distribute postage stamp for Alzheimers Support.

    Aug 18, 2016
  • anon

    Please help us find answers to the cruel disease of Alzheimer's by supporting Help Stamp Out AlzheimerÔÇÖs. What a great way to honor the men, women, and families of those impacted by this disease and help support research to find answers. Thank you. Lori Schneider

    Aug 17, 2016
  • anon

    I would like to see a stamp fire animal welfare. I think a lot of people would buy it. It would be a great hit and supply much needed money to help animals in shelters.

    Aug 06, 2016
  • anon

    DEAR USPS, I support an Alzheimer's semi-postal stamp

    Jul 30, 2016
  • anon

    I think it is a good way to bring attension to a cause, and raise money without bothering anyone whose not interested in it ore sending people out on the street. I would happily give more for such a stamp, because I can choose myself when I would buy it. Ps: the Alzheimer's cause is a really good idea.

    Jul 29, 2016
  • anon

    Please dedicate a semi postal stamp for Alzheimer's disease.

    Jul 22, 2016
  • anon

    The Alzheimer's stamp would be a tribute to families who have gone through this dreadful disease with their loved ones like we have. If we can find a way to stop this disease with some of the money from this stamp going to help, then why would we have to even think about it? We need to keep an Alzheimer's cure foremost on everyone's mind and this would be a wonderful way to keep it alive.

    Jul 20, 2016
  • anon

    A stamp for supporting the cure for Alzheimer's. My mom who is 67 YOA is in hospice on her last days of life and I would pay more for a stamp like this if available. Please consider.

    Jul 19, 2016
  • anon

    I just lost my brother to Alzheimers. Please consider this cause for a semipostal stamp....I would gladly pay more!

    Jul 18, 2016
  • anon

    I would pay more for an Alzheimer's stamp. Please support this cause for a semipostal stamp.

    Jul 17, 2016
  • anon

    Yes I would! My husband was diagnosised with Alzheimer's at age 51! We need to find a cure and find it ASAP. Any money raised will help this cause. Thank you.

    Jul 13, 2016
  • anon

    I have never bought them before but I would buy them in support of Alzheimer's Disease.

    Jul 13, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's Diaease is the 6th leading cause of death, and the only one in the toop 10 with no prevention, no treatme t, and no cure. We desperately need this stamo for both awareness and fundraising. Alzheimer's kills more people than breast cancer (which has a stamp) and prostate cancer combined.

    Jul 13, 2016
  • anon

    Please create a semipostal stamp to support the Alzheimer's Association and Alzheimer's research.

    Jul 12, 2016
  • anon

    Please do a stamp for Alzheimer's!

    Jul 12, 2016
  • anon

    Please create a semipostal stamp to support the Alzheimer's Association and Alzheimer's research. It's imperative that we act now, as the number of people with the disease is expected to escalate rapidly as the baby boom generation ages.

    Jul 12, 2016
  • anon

    Please, a semipostal stamp to benefit Alzheimer's Disease!!!

    Jul 12, 2016
  • anon

    Please create a semipostal stamp to support the Alzheimer's Association and Alzheimer's research.

    Jul 12, 2016
  • anon

    Please create a semipostal stamp to support the Alzheimer's Association and Alzheimer's research.

    Jul 12, 2016
  • anon

    Please create a semipostal stamp to support the Alzheimer's Association and Alzheimer's research.

    Jul 11, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's disease is the #6 killer of Americans (and quickly moving to #5) please choose Alzheimer's Disease for your next cause to support. #endalz #alzkills #stillkarla

    Jul 11, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's disease is the #6 killer of Americans (and quickly moving to #5) please choose Alzheimer's Disease for your next cause to support. #endalz #alzkills #stillkarla

    Jul 11, 2016
  • anon

    An Alzheimer's stamp would be amazing. It would be for such a good cause.

    Jul 11, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's !

    Jul 11, 2016
  • anon

    Yes!!!! This is an amazing cause. It is the 6th cause of death more than breast & prostrate cancer combined.

    Jul 11, 2016
  • anon

    There has been work on a project to Stamp Out PTSD for years. Garland Denny started almost a decade ago and he recently recieved support of over 125+ members of Congress. Please checkout our most recent effort at www.VeteransPetition.com

    Jul 11, 2016
  • anon

    My father, grandmother, & great grandmother all died of Alzheimer's. Sadly, my family has the hereditary gene of Alzheimer's. I would love to see a stamp for Alzheimer's! I think doing something like that for such a good cause would say a lot about the USPS!!!

    Jul 07, 2016
  • anon

    Called four western Pennsylvania P.O.s between 1400 and 1500. No one answered at any place. Great performance - very uniform. I have a question: At the current 47 cent first class rate, how much does it cost a recipient to get a BRM letter? I send checks to various charities and wonder if it would be better for me to put a stamp on these envelopes. I've heard that the cost to the addressee is near one dollar per envelope. If that is true, it would be better to use my stamp. Your response is appreciated.

    Jul 07, 2016
  • anon

    I've always heard that when a company or organization sends a self-addressed envelope for your convenience, it does cost the company or organization a lot more but I don't know how much. In my opinion, the organization would save money if you put your own stamp on it. Current cost of 47 cents.

    Jul 19, 2016
  • anon

    I am in favor of an Alzheimer's Semi-Postal Stamp to help generate funds for research. A stamp is so powerful because a stamp gives the public day-to-day exposure to dementia and inspires a compassionate response. A stamp breathes life into a person or people, into an idea or an ideal, and reminds us about how our everyday choices, or our exposure to an image on a stamp can create more Awareness Compassion benefiting all of us. Thank you for your willingness to allow those living with Alzheimers - those who have the disease and their families and caregivers - to be taken out of the shadows of fear and recognized for their humanity, their precious and inviolate place in our lives. Thank you for affirming the work of Compassion they are calling forth not just for those touched by dementia, but for all people...we are all so much more than any one moment can reveal.

    Jul 06, 2016
  • anon

    Please create an Alzheimer's stamp! This is a great cause the USPS could help raise money to Stamp Out Alzheimer's!

    Jul 06, 2016
  • anon

    Yes I have bought semipostal stamps for breast cancer research. Would DEFINITELY purchase for Alzheimer's research!!

    Jul 06, 2016
  • anon

    We have to have an Alzheimer's stamp! More money for research is desperately needed and this would be a great way to raise some of that money.

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    Please come out with a stamp to help raise funds for Alzheimer's. It can't wait! Thank you.

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    Please make a stamp for Alzheimer's disease. People need to know! We need all the help and funds we can get. This disease is worse then breast cancer!! Everyone dies a slow awful death!! Please consider this.

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    As an advocate for the Alzheimer's Association for the past 7 years and caring for my grandmother that I lost battling Dementia. I would appreciate seeing an Alzheimer's stamp. We support other causes like the American Heart Association, lets support the Alzheimer's Association and bring awareness to the 5+ million suffering along with the 47 million with Dementia. What is the heart without the brain? There is no better time than the present to spread awareness that is taking lives every 67 seconds. Let's do this together. - Miss District of Columbia United States 2016

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    I definitely support an Alzheimer's stamp. This disease is so terrible and affects so many families.

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    An "end Alzheimer's" stamp is such a great way to fund research to fight this cruel event in the lives of thousands and their families. Help Stamp out Alzheimer's disease.

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimers should have a stamp. Statistics prove it is increasing and, at this point, there is no cure. My wonderful Mama passed away from this awful disease.

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's is a huge problem Why? 1. You are looking at, at least 2 people(maybe more) the one diagnosed and the caregiver and yes a caregiver is immune to getting ill. 2. Also Long term care is being pushed to the Max. 3. A baby boom population turning 65 from 2011 till 2030 will put a financial burden on a health care system that is already fragile. Why wait until there is a crisis when we can prepare for this now. A postal stamp is needed and needed now. It will help a future generation that has to deal with this. Thank you for all who are thinking of the future. Bakhus

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    We truly need a cure for Alzheimer's Disease. If a postal stamp can help raise funds, then lets do it!

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    I have a 91% risk of getting Alzheimer's disease due to my genetic staus. I have taken this information and now participate in research as a lab rat. I will not be able to contribute if we do not have funding to help find a prevention or cure. Eighty percent of studies fail due to lack of funding! Alzheimer's disease is one of the least funded disease, yet amounts to one of the greatest cost to society. Please consider creating a semi-postal stamp to help millions of victims and help the next generation not have to ever worry about this disease again! Thank you!

    Jul 05, 2016
  • anon

    Please approve an Alzheimer's stamp. I have been a caregiver for 3 family members suffering from this mean disease that pilfers their dignity. Research dollars to find a cure and preventative vaccination are desperately needed!!!

    Jul 05, 2016

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