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 would love to have a stamp that would raise funds for research and assistance for caregivers of Alzheimer's disease!!!!!!!

    Jun 24, 2016
  • anon

    Absolutely! Time to raise funds for Alzheimer's and other dementia. I totally support having a stamp that would raise funds for research and assistance for caregivers! YES! #ENDALZ

    Jun 23, 2016
  • anon

    I support raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer's and Dementia. It's a disease that takes our loved ones twice. First living with the disease and second when their time on earth is over.

    Jun 22, 2016
  • anon

    I have bought semipostal stamps in the past and would definitely support an Alzheimer's stamp. Alzheimer's disease receives far less federal funding that many other diseases, such as breast cancer, so it is time to raise awareness and increase research funds for this devastating disease.

    Jun 21, 2016
  • anon

    A stamp to promote awareness and raise funds for Alzheimer's and dementia research. 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's with more to come. This disease affects all of us. More must be done to find a cure. A stamp could help.

    Jun 21, 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 21, 2016
  • anon

    I support an Alzheimer's semi-postal stamp. Watching a man who took care of everyone and everything slowly and completely lose all function was heartbreaking.

    Jun 20, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, I endorse the approval of this stamp that people can purchase voluntarily. The extra dollars raised will be used to add to the research dollars the NIH can use for Alzheimer's research. It is something our nation needs NOW to find ways to prevent and stop this disease.

    Jun 18, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 17, 2016
  • anon

    I absolutely support this. My grandmother-in-law suffers with Alzheimer's and I watch every day as she is confused and agitated. It is heartbreaking for myself and my family. Please do whatever you can to support research!

    Jun 16, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 16, 2016
  • anon

    I'm 55 years old and the 4th Generation of my family to have Alzheimer's Disease. I didn't know my Great-Grandmother but I did watch as Alzheimer's claimed the life of my Grandfather, my Mother, and my wife's Grandmother. Now my family is watching Alzheimer's claim me. Making a stamp available to the public would be a big step towards raising more awareness about Alzheimer's Disease. The statistics show the number of people in the U.S. that have this disease but what it doesn't show is the ever-growing number of individuals like me who are under the age of 65. Being that the Baby-Boomer Generation is aging means more of us are being diagnosed with the disease. Unfortunately, these numbers do not take into account the number of people who are not diagnosed or misdiagnosed. So please, help us Advocate for Alzheimer's by approving an Alzheimer's postage stamp and help the future generations of people with Alzheimer's. Thank You!

    Jun 16, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 16, 2016
  • anon

    Dear USPS, for those of us living with Alzheimer's (I'm 55) who are losing our memories and everything else that goes with having this disease, we are asking for your help in raising awareness. Everytime someone will use this stamp will be a reminder that we STILL have no cure nor any other way of slowing down the disease. The stamp will also represent the ones who were taken from us. Maybe it will be the reason people help to make that change. How amazing would it be when you could discontinue the stamp because they found a cure! PLEASE, PLEASE, help us make this happen!!!!!! It may be too late for me, but hopefully not for the next generation.

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

    I support a semi postal stamp to benefit Alzheimer's research. And, as a stamp collector, I will be proud to use the stamp as well as include it in my collection. Alzheimer's is a forever disease. How appropriate for a forever stamp to play a role in its defeat!

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

    I would love to see a series of stamps honoring the many sufferers of Alzheimer's with a link so that others can share their memories..Sure i would pay extra..and so would so many others. .

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

    I support an Alzheimer's semi -postal stamp.

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

    I fully support a semi postage stamp to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimers Disease

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

    I support a stamp for Alzheimer's Disease research!

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

    I support an Alzheimer's stamp

    Jun 14, 2016
  • anon

    Dear USPS, I support a semipostal stamp for Alzheimer's Disease! Millie Anderson

    Jun 14, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 14, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 14, 2016
  • anon

    What a great opportunity to increase awareness of this disease and to support research in finding a cure sometime soon, we should all hope. Yes, I do support an Alzheimer's stamp.

    Jun 14, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, I would support an Alzheimer's stamp.

    Jun 13, 2016
  • anon

    We need more awareness....this disease kills and there is no cure!! Funding is crucial to find a cure!

    Jun 09, 2016
  • anon

    I'd love to see an Alzheimer's stamp! #ENDALZ

    Jun 09, 2016
  • anon

    Understanding the horrendous nature of Alzheimer's and other dementia, I would support this endeavour to raise funds and increase awareness. With the many types of dementia and the incredible burden of caregiving, it would be easy to conceive of a series. Please support this great initiative!

    Jun 09, 2016
  • anon

    Yes! and Yes again! I am a former caregiver to my mother that still lives with Alzheimer's Disease. However, awareness is raised, it is very important to the entire country. The expense that the country has through Medicaid because those with it have to self pay until their resources run out, if they are fortunate to have any. The families of those with the disease do not understand the commitment and sacrifice by the caregiver and the impact that caregiving has on their lives, to say nothing of their finances!

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

    Yes I would support a Alzheimer stamp my sister just died in April with Dementia terrible disease.

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

    I would pay extra for a stamp that would support research for Alzheimer's Disease. I am a facilitator for a support group of caregivers. They constantly mention how they would be happy if they could find a cure for this disease. Anything that would help the research , I am all in.

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

    I would pay extra for a stamp that would support research for Alzheimer's Disease.

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

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

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, I would support an Alzheimer's stamp, and pay more for if funds went to the NIH.

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

    I would definitely be willing to pay more for an ALzheimer's Stamp. This would be a fantastic way to raise awareness and funds for dementia. Please support this cause. It effects so many families and our communities at large. It is our societal duty to improve the lives of those in need. Dementia is not going away any time soon and this would be a great way for people to support the cause while doing their everyday business.

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

    I would love a stamp supporting Alzheimer's research as long as the money is going to NIH. Please make the design uplifting and positive and have persons with Alzheimer's disease give their input on any such stamp. There are many who are able to express their views on what the stamp should convey. This stamp is certainly needed and all of us who have/had loved ones who have gone down this road would greatly appreciate it.

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

    I am 100% behind the Alzheimer's stamp. I have been begging for this stamp for 15 years. Alzheimer's Alzheimer's is the only leading cause of death that has no cure and no effective treatment. I will definitely be using only Alzheimer's stamps if they were available! Watching my grandmother and mom die from this disease it is imperative that we do more. An Alzheimer's stamp is a great way to not only raise funds but also raise awareness. Please help me put an Alzheimer's stamp on my next envelope!

    Jun 06, 2016
  • anon

    I feel a stamp raising funds to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease is an incredibly smart idea. It will keep the disease at the forefront for millions of people while adding much needed monies into research. My husband was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer's the week he turned 55. Seven years later we are still waiting for the funds needed to find a cure. It is too late for my husband but let's do something that will eradicate this horrible disease for future generations.

    Jun 06, 2016
  • anon

    I support issuing an Alzheimer's stamp. The money raised will help fund finding a cure to this terrible disease that hijacks lives and robs those effected of a meaningful life. I have been taking care of my father who was brilliant since 2009, and has been ravaged by this disease.

    Jun 06, 2016
  • anon

    We DESPERATELY need a cure for Alzheimers. Please help us raise money for Alzheimers research.

    Jun 06, 2016
  • anon

    I have bought and supported the breast cancer stamp. As a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's Disease I am aware of the issues surrounding this disease. To issue a stamp in support of Alzheimer's would not only help to provide funds for research but would also promote awareness to many people. I totally am in support of this stamp.

    Jun 06, 2016
  • anon

    I will support this good idea, DEPENDING on the image: does it perpetuate negative stereotypes, is it despairing, or is it hopeful, honouring, compassionate, respectful like the breast cancer image. Do those living with Alzheimer's approve of the image? Does it recognize the enduring spirit (like anyone living with a neuro-degenerative disease) - and its capacity for endless love and connection?

    Jun 06, 2016
  • anon

    I support an Alzheimer's stamp. My mom has Alzheimer's 17 years, she's now 75 Please help find a cure. Alzheimer's is cruel and we have nothing to slow the progression, or cure it. I miss my mom. Alzheimer's took her from our family. I don't want anyone to ever know what Alzheimer's does to a loved one. We are desperate for a cure.

    Jun 05, 2016
  • anon

    Please endorse the alzheimers stamp. My beloved husband lost his battle April 30, 2015. He was 57 years old. Let's find a cure for the horrible disease that robs the mind of such wonderful people. Let's cure this for our children and grandchildren. Remember 6th leading cause of death. And has less money funded than any other disease. His name was Alton Cole and he was the love of my life.

    Jun 03, 2016

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