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 support the alzheimer stamp.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I would love to see an Alzheimer semipostal stamp. I see firsthand what this horrible disease does to a person..my Mom. A postal stamp would be a great idea to raise awareness and provide the funds needed to help find a cure. I support this stamp 100%! #stillmymom, #endalz

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    Please make the alzheimer's stamp to raise funds to fight this horrible disease. I have been caregiving my husband with alzheimer's for years now. He is now bedbound and requires total care. It would be so wonderful to find a cure before more of us meet his fate.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I support the issuance of a semi-postal stamp which would provide additional funds for Dementia/Alzheimer research. Everyone I talk to has been affected by this disease in their family or among friends.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I lost my father to this horrid disease. Now, I am losing my mother as well. Alzheimer's doesn't begin to get the funding it needs. I support this cause completely. Everyone should have a fighting chance. We need a cure.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    What an easy way to raise awareness and funds for ALZ. This devastating disease has affected our family for over 12 years and still so little is known about it. I fully support this initiative!

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I think the stamp is an amazing way to raise awareness on Alzheimer's. Working with individuals with the disease is my career path and passion. Any venue to raise awareness is absolutely needed.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    Beautiful Art Work and definitely I would be a supporter. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    Please help us caregivers and those suffering Alzheimer disease to find a cure. As a caregiver, I know the day to day challenges a person with this condition suffers. Please, it is time to find a cure for this horrible disease. I support the Alzheimer stamp to help fund to find a cure. Anyone could be affected with this disease!

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I support this effort 100%.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    Alzeimers/Dementia is becoming an overwhelming disease during this day & age. People with this disease usually are cared for by family members and it's extremely difficult. I have learned from an Alzeimers Facebook group that support for research and finding a cure is needed very badly.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    Please consider an Alzheimer's stamp to help fund research to find a cure. I'm the daughter of a woman who lived with the disease for seven years after being diagnosed with the disease and vascular dementia. This is a cruel disease with no cure at the present time. We need a cure before the tidal wave of people affected by the disease begins.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    This proposed stamp would help so many people who have dementia and their care partners. There is a stamp for breast cancer, and more people, men and women, are afflicted with this disease. The financial impact is staggering. this would help raise money for research and treatments.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, I support the Semipostal Stamp program today and in the past. Please due issue an Alzheimer's edition, helping to fund the cause to raise general awareness and finding new treatment possibilities, if not a cure. This disease does not just effect the elderly alone, there can be numerous cases each year of Early On Set starting in the 40-50 yr old age group. Help support the cause to find a cure.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I support an Alzheimer's stamp.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I would like a stamp for Dementia/Alzheimer's.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    Keeping our lost family and friends in our memories, while trying to prevent this horrible disease from affecting others (including ourselves), is more than a noble cause. Please support this effort.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I think stamps to raise money are a great idea. But Alzheimer's is only one type of dementia and is well known so the majority of money raised goes to Alzheimer's research. It is important to keep researching Alzheimer's, yes but the lesser known dementias have much farther to go in terms of finding a cure and treatment. My husband is 56 and has frontotemporal dementia. We have an 11 year old son. This disease, as are all forms of dementia, is devastating. Please consider a dementia stamp to bring awareness to all forms of dementia.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I would support semipostal stamps as they can have a subliminal, yet direct impact on a fundraising cause. I would like to see a semipostal for the fight against Alzheimer's, as I have been directly impacted by the devastating disease. I lost my mom in July 2015, and continuing to engage in the fight against the disease is very important to -- and therapeutic for -- me. I'm ready to "go semipostal"!

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    Please approve the stamp for Dementia or Alzheimer's. This has affected my family personally it would be wonderful to see more support out there for this horrific disease thank you for your time

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I am now widowed due to my husband's death from one of the dementias, Frontotemporal Degeneration. Our country and the world, is in desperate need of funding to find a cure for Alzheimers Disease and all the dementias. My husband was a brilliant man, an opera singer, pianist, teacher, composer, spoke 7 languages. He was so very much. This brain disease stole so very much. On behalf of myself and our 2 teenage daughters, I ask you to please choose to allow a semipostal stamp to be produced, that will provide funding to find a cure for Alzheimers Disease. Please.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I support a stamp to help raise money and awareness for alzheimers and dementia research so that a cure may be found.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    It is definitely time to have a stamp to raise funds to find a cure for Alzheimer's and other dementias. These diseases make people lose themselves and affect the entire family. The increase of those affected is putting a burden on the economy and health care system. Please make this stamp happen now!

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I highly support a postage stamp recognizing the importance of research into stamping out this insidious disease.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    My husband just died from thej fatal disease Alzheimer's. Please consider having a semi-postal stamp to generate funds for research to find help and a cure. This is a disease of epidemic proportion. We must fund research for this devastating disease so others don't have to lose their loved ones too.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I would most definitely pay for a semi-postage stamp. I never heard of one until recently and it would mean so much to me and millions more to have one done for The Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia which is inclusive of Alzheimer's. Thank you.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I have purchased "cause" stamps in the past and would do so again. I would love to see a semi postal stamp to support dementia awareness and research. The number of Americans living with dementia is staggering - 5.4M with Alzheimer's alone, projected to rise to 13.8-16M by 2050 - and dementia is, thus far, neither curable nor manageable as a chronic condition. It's also a socially unacceptable condition that leaves too many people who have dementia (as well as their families) isolated when they most need support. Please establish a stamp to support dementia awareness and research! Thank you.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I would support and contribute to a stamp that supports research of Alzheimer's disease.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    On behalf of every person who has died of this disease, including my wife, and to every person who is diagnosed somewhere every 4 seconds, I implore you to create this stamp. The world needs a huge wake up call. Thank you.

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    We need ALZ awareness & funds for dementia!

    Jul 03, 2016
  • anon

    I support the Alzheimer's stamp to help fund research to find a cure for this horrible disease. Too many individuals suffer from it and so do their families. This stamp will also make people more aware of the disease.

    Jul 02, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, I would pay more for a stamp, especially to fund research for Alzheimer's; or to fund financial aid to caregivers to those with Alzheimer's.

    Jul 02, 2016
  • anon

    I support the Alzheimer's association and agree we should have a stamp to help spread awareness and raise funds in order to find a cure

    Jul 02, 2016
  • anon

    My mom is now in mid-stage dementia and unless you you walk in a caregivers shoes you just can't imagine the heartbreak this disease brings watching your love lose the filters that tell them what to do...please make this work in getting this stamp out, this is a disease that is already an epidemic and will only implode as more baby boomers age...thank you for reading this!!!

    Jul 01, 2016
  • anon

    I support the Alzheimer's stamp 1,000 % ! Please create the Alzheimer's stamp to help STOP this CRUEL disease ! Please do it ASAP ... we are all needing your help United States Postal Service , so much time has past and so many families are suffering , HURRY & PLEASE help all the Alzheimer's patients & their Families to STOP this HORRIFIC disease ! Thank you , Sincerely , Kat Wheeler

    Jul 01, 2016
  • anon

    I support this Alzheimer's Stamp to help fund research to find a cure. There is an inadequacy of government funding for this disease, we are so far behind in finding some better options for a person living with dementia. If this Alzheimer's stamp will get more money to where it is needed to help find a cure then we should all support this initiative. There may be a time in your life that you will be touched with a loved one or a friend that will be diagnosis with this disease.

    Jun 30, 2016
  • anon

    I think it is about time that we have a universal dementia stamp (ALZ or other)!

    Jun 30, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's disease was my professional passion and became a personal tragedy when my husband was diagnosed and died. A postage stamp is a terrific idea to raise awareness and raise funds for NIH. The numbers affected by dementia are staggering and increase with each year. I support this effort 100%, and I hope and pray that it will happen to to promote education, research, and respite for caregivers who suffer an incredible burden.

    Jun 30, 2016
  • anon

    18 years my family has been struggling with this disease. I 100% support the Alzheimer's Stamp

    Jun 30, 2016
  • anon

    It is time the world realise the long term issues and cost to all that travel the Dementia/Alzheimer's journey. It is time to support the efforts of this stamp and what it can do to bring awareness and much needed funding. Let's Stamp out this MONSTER disease. I support this stamp.

    Jun 30, 2016
  • anon

    This semipostal stamp if it becomes a reality, will help so many people suffering and caring for Alzheimer's patients.

    Jun 30, 2016
  • anon

    I support a stamp for Alzheimer's disease research and awareness! #ENDALZ

    Jun 29, 2016
  • anon

    I have always bought Breast Cancer stamps. I would like to see one for Alzheimer's.

    Jun 29, 2016
  • anon

    I support a stamp for Alzheimer's Disease research, and to find a cure. I have been caring for my Mom for the past few years, and unless you care or know someone with this devastating disease you can not imagine how it affects not only the patient but the whole family. I have been using the Breast Cancer Stamps since the beginning. Please help find a Cure For Alzheimers.

    Jun 28, 2016
  • anon

    Please help us raise awareness of this devastating disease by creating a stamp to help #stampoutalzheimers! #ENDALZ

    Jun 27, 2016
  • anon

    I'd definitely pay for a stamp in support of Alzheimer's disease (and related dementia), as AZ affects over 5 million people in the US and is a global issue. My mum has early stages of AZ but at age 87 still sparkles and living a good quality of life. I would also not hesitate to pay for a stamp in support of caregivers (over 40 million unpaid family caregivers in the US alone).

    Jun 27, 2016
  • anon

    I DEFINITELY support and would purchase an Alzheimer's semipostal stamp. PLEASE help us raise funds to help find a cure for this terrible disease that claims our loved ones.

    Jun 26, 2016
  • anon

    This is a great idea! I would definitely support something like this. What a perfect way to raise money and awareness about Alzheimer's and Dementia.

    Jun 26, 2016
  • anon

    I like the idea of postal stamps supporting causes. Yes, I would pay more for a stamp that supported something which means a lot to me. I request stamps for Alzheimer's disease. My mom had it, and my grandmother died from it, so if you make stamps for Alz, I will buy them. Thank you, Jennifer Lakhlani

    Jun 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support the Alzheimer's semi postal stamp. We need to step up the research efforts and I will do whatever is necessary to support that!

    Jun 24, 2016

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