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

    It's a start, at least! I've been after my local store manager to stop wasting what is obviously still good food by dumping it in the dumpster. He's now agreeing with me, and promises "they're working on it" See, my big mouth can be effectual.

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    It's a start, at least! I've been after my local store manager to stop wasting what is obviously still good food by dumping it in the dumpster. He's now agreeing with me, and promises "they're working on it" See, my big mouth can be effectual.

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    I serve as President and CEO at the Alliance for Aging Research, www.agingresearch.org, and we would be very supportive of an Alzheimer's disease-focused stamp. We would be happy to help the USPS promote it, and encourage folks to purchase it. This would be a wonderfully meaningful effort for patients and their family caregivers.

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    People know about and fear Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's is so stigmatized that people are afraid to get a diagnosis. We need to have a broader understanding of the trajectory of the disease and how today's patients and families can cope. Society needs to support these patients and families in the community, recognizing that many family caregivers of people with Alzheimer's feel isolated. A stamp would increase everyone's awareness of the disease and the toll it is taking on both the patient and the family caregiver.

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    Millions of Americans have Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and as the size of the US population over 65 increases, so do the numbers of families impacted by our nation's most costly disease. I strongly support the issuance of a semi postal to support Alzheimer's research for the health of future generations. Please support an Alzheimer's semi-postal stamp. We can't wait anymore. The time is now!

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    I highly recommend Congress pass legislation to issue a semi postal stamp for Alzheimer's research and that they allow more than one semipostal stamp to be sold at the same time.

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    Please issue an Alzheimer's stamp

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    Please issue a semi postal stamp to support the fight against Alzheimer's disease. Please. The USPS is in the unique position to make an historic impact on the lives of millions and millions of patients and families affected by this most cruel and devastating disease. Please help us to STAMP OUT ALZHEIMER'S!

    May 19, 2016
  • anon

    I would support an Alzheimer's stamp!

    May 19, 2016
  • anon

    I wholeheartedly support semi postal stamps, it's a brilliant idea, and I've purchased them before. Having lost my father January 31 this year to Alzheimer's/dementia, this is the stamp I would like to see next. If it was up to me and feasible, I'd make all stamps semi postal and have several sold at a time. Let the people choose. Off the top of my head: brain tumors (lost my brother), prostate cancer, autism, lung cancer, food for families, etc. Thank you for all that you do, especially your grand efforts last Saturday, Stamp Out Hunger, which I participate in every year.

    May 19, 2016
  • anon

    Having lost two aunts to Alzheimer's, I know from personal knowledge how devastating Alzheimer's is to families. Families need tremendous support over, in most cases, many long and grueling years. Any financial support for research is important to all affected by Alzheimer's. I am retired from the National Institutes of Health and am well-aware of the importance funding can have on research. This semi-postal stamp will increase this every important research. Not enough money has been budgeted by the government to help in this cause and this stamp will help to assist in this research.

    May 19, 2016
  • anon

    I would certainly pay more for stamps if the proceeds went to Alzheimer's research. Alzheimer's is the cruelest disease out there and severely underfunded. It has a 100% mortality rate; there are no survivors. There are few things worse than to look into the eyes of someone you love more than anything else in the world, someone you've spent your entire life making memories with, and they see you as a complete stranger. It's not only devastating to the people who have it, it's equally as bad to the families and caretakers of those afflicted. It's time to put an end to this horrific disease.

    May 19, 2016
  • anon

    It strikes me that the idea that a semipostal stamp could be created and issued to help fight a disease that seems destined to grow more menacing as the baby-boomers age is nothing short of brilliant. There is no shortage of deserving causes, but Alzheimers has perhaps the broadest spectrum of potential victims, and any amount of money raised for medical research is the only solution for discovering a cure. I will be first in line to buy these stamps.

    May 19, 2016
  • anon

    This is such an urgent matter - Alzheimer's Disease is going to skyrocket in the next 10 years. Please, please.....let's get both increased funding and awareness by approving an Alzheimer's stamp! It couldn't be more timely or more appropriate. Thank you.

    May 19, 2016
  • anon

    Please support the Alzheimer's semi postal stamp to benefit Alzheimer's research. Alzheimer's is the third living cause of death and it has no treatment, prevention or cure. I am one of the 5.4 million Americans who is suffering from this horrible disease. This disease has a impact of all lives throught our lifetime.

    May 19, 2016
  • anon

    I am in favor of an Alzheimer's Semipostal; this is one of the most devastating diseases that affects so many Americans, and this stamp would help with awareness. Thank you, Jane Adams.

    May 19, 2016
  • anon

    Please consider issuing a Alzheimers/dementia awareness stamp. It is strongly needed as there is no effective, treatment and cure. It is only set to get worse. WE NEED MORE AWARENESS NOW!!! Thanks for listening!

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    I fully support and respectfully request a stamp to support Alzheimer research. Thank you for considering this important cause.

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    Please consider taking on the Stamp Out Alzheimer's stamp program to help raise money to find a cure. I've lost a grandmother, my father and currently caring for my mom. We need to do something about this now! Please help.

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    Raising Alzheimer's awareness is the first step in raising funds. Too many people still think Alzheimer's disease is a part of normal aging. It is not. It is a disease that affects over 5 million Americans and is growing in epidemic proportions. Every 67 seconds another person is diagnosed. Funds for research are desperately needed. A semipostal stamp for Alzheimer's disease will not only raise funds, but also increase awareness of a disease that needs to come out of the shadows.

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    Director of Stamp Services, Please consider offering a new stamp, one dedicated to Alzheimer's (Semipostal). Thank you, Mary Schiermann

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    I support use of semi postal and encourage USPS to issue an Alzheimer's semi postal stamp to benefit Alzheimer's research. Alzheimer's is the only leading cause of death with NO treatment, prevention or cure. 5.4 million Americans suffer with the disease. 44 million Americans are their caregivers. Thank you.

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    I can't imagine any cause with a greater sense of urgency than the fight against Alzheimer's. Have the stamp would help to immediately help fund a disease that has no cure and no treatment. Someone is diagnosed with this about every 60 seconds. Please help in funding to crack the code on a disease that is reshaping our world, physically, emotionally and financially.

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    This is so very important, because it could raise additional funds for Alzheimer's research. Look at what the cancer stamp raised. If anyone who has had someone in there family rather it be grandparent or parent, and spouse has seen the devastation of this disease and the cost to families. I lost my husband and grandmother within in 7 months apart. I have a great aunt and another great aunt who was just diagnosed with dementia.

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    My grandmother suffered with dementia at the end of her life and I now work to help and eventually stop others from the same fate. It cannot be done without funding research and the semipostal stamps have been great for other causes. I would fully support a stamp to help fund Alzheimer's research.

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    We need a cure for Alzheimer's! This is an absolutely horrible disease which steals your mind, body and soul! In memory of my Mom and sooo many others who have been robbed of their lives.

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    Please help funding for awareness and research with an Alzheimers stamp. Devastating disease.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Dear Postmaster, I am writing to ask you for your consideration to again issue the "Alzheimer's Stamp". This is cause that affects thousands of families and to find a cure millions are needed. This stamp has a personal significance for my family as it was issued the year my Mother, past away from this dreaded disease. Thank-you. Elissa C. Matlewski

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Please take action ASAP to make a semi-postal stamp to benefit Alzheimer's research. I would buy such a stamp because this disease is increasing widely and practically every family is or has been affected by it.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    I would love it to have an Alzheimer's stamp as I would support it because I have dealt one on one with the disease.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Yes I would. MY mom is suffering from Dementia with Alheimers.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Storyteller, waffle maker, fisherman, family historian, giver of wise counsel and warm hugs, spiritual inspiration, philanthropic civic leader, gin rummy player, golf enthusiast, Norwegian heritage student and patriarch. Our family lost all of those things when Alzheimer's robbed us of my grandfather 4 years ago. For my family, his diagnosis was a death sentence. We watched hopelessly and helplessly as this cruel disease consumed more and more of who he was. We had no hope for a cure for him. But it doesn't have to be that way for the other 15 million families currently supporting a loved one impacted by Alzheimer's. Researchers believe they are closer than ever to a cure, but remain short of the funds needed to advance their work despite the recent congressional increase. The chasm that exists in dollars allocated by the government and raised by non-profits could decrease greatly if families like mine were given a choice to by postage that supports something so painfully personal to us and millions like us. We need your help to have this choice. Please act now to let Alzheimer's families everywhere know that they matter to you, that this epidemic needs to end and answer our prayers by permitting an Alzheimer's semi-postal stamp. Help us change the future, change the outcome for families that will one day have a chance to survive Alzheimer's. This is a defining moment in history and a chance for the United States Postal Service to serve as a worldwide example as leaders in the fight to end this global epidemic.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, I would very much like to see a semipostal stamp supporting Alzheimer's research. Additional funding is critical in moving toward finding a cure.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Yes I support the Alzheimer's stamp to support research.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Now is the time for a Alzeimer's stamp. Public awareness is most important.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Please consider making a stamp whose sale will help fund Alzheimer's research. The cost of Alzheimer's disease is astronomical and, alone, Alzheimer's disease is capable of bankrupting our medical systems. This doesn't even take into account the untold suffering, both financial and psychological, of patients and their families. The funding for Alzheimer's research has not kept pace with the growing epidemic of patients. With our aging population, it is essential that we find effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Let's work together to conquer Alzheimer's.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    Please make a stamp to stamp out Alzheimer's disease. No one is immune.

    May 17, 2016
  • anon

    The majority of the stamps that I buy go toward helping causes. I would like a stamp that helps the cause of finding a cure for Alzheimer's.

    May 10, 2016
  • anon

    Please issue a semi postal stamp that will have proceeds go to Alzheimers research. This is a devastating disease and I would gladly pay more for a stamp that would help us fight the disease.

    May 10, 2016
  • anon

    Please help us fight alzheimer's disease

    Apr 20, 2016
  • anon

    I absolutely love the concept of the Alzheimer's Stamp. I have lost my Grandmother, my Father and I'm currently caring for my mom who has Vascular dementia and is now on Hospice. The money raised from this project could help save endless lives and assist millions of struggling families care for their loved ones deal with this horrible disease.

    Apr 20, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's Disease needs more funds! Please use this stamp method to help with awareness and research funds.

    Apr 19, 2016
  • anon

    Please consider a semipostal stamp. I just lost my Mom to Alzheimer's ... It's an ugly disease! The money is so needed!!

    Apr 18, 2016
  • anon

    I would purchase an Alzheimer's research stamp. My father passed away in January from the disease after a 10 year battle.

    Apr 18, 2016
  • anon

    Please approve the AlzheimerÔÇÖs stamp! This disease will toich everyone in some way. We need as much funding as possible to go toward this cause. This stamp will continue ro raise awareness.

    Apr 18, 2016
  • anon

    I would pay more for postage stamps if the difference was used to support Alzheimer's research.

    Apr 14, 2016
  • anon

    Please consider a semi postal that will benefit dementia research. This disease impacts all of us. I would happily pay more for a stamp for the chance to raise additional monies and awareness. You can take this small step and make a huge difference in the world. Please approve this stamp. Warmly, Deborah Shouse author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver's Journey

    Apr 12, 2016
  • anon

    Please support the Alzheimer's Semi-Postal stamp. The disease is devastating both emotionally, physically, and financially.

    Apr 09, 2016
  • anon

    Yes, I would help by paying extra for stamps if the extra funds were going to a reputable charity.

    Apr 09, 2016

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  • 1 day 12 hours ago
    YES All Postal Carriers should wear an approved Uniform, that will identify them. But, only window clerks, city carriers and maintenance employees are getting an allotment to buy uniforms. Rural...
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