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

    A disease that is effecting us all and costs the health care system the most is Dementia such as Alzheimers.

    Apr 09, 2016
  • anon

    YES! YES! YES! Of course we would pay more for a stamp to help fund Alzheimer's research. Small price to pay.

    Apr 09, 2016
  • anon

    YES, I would pay more for postage stamps if the extra money benefited funding for diseases such as Alzheimer's!

    Apr 08, 2016
  • anon

    By all means, YES!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE an Alzheimer's Disease!! PLEASE! We've been waiting say too long for this opportunity!

    Apr 08, 2016
  • anon

    Please implement the stamp to support Alzheimer's dementia research!

    Apr 08, 2016
  • anon

    I would definitely be willing to pay more for certain causes. I have friends who are supporting an Alzheimer's research stamp and believe this is more than worthy. I'm not sure people realize how much impact this disease already has on the majority of Americans...and sadly, unless a cure is found....it's only going to get worse. Please offer to stamp to consumers. Thank you.

    Apr 08, 2016
  • anon

    I am definitely for a semipostal stamp to benefit Alzheimer Research. We need to find better treatments or a cure NOW! Alzheimer Disease affects everyone in the family. Please approve an Alzheimer semipostal stamp. Lives are depending upon it.

    Mar 28, 2016
  • anon

    I urge the USPS to issue a semipostal stamp for the benefit of Alzheimer's Research. Please, let's do for this worthy cause what we have done for Breast Cancer research. Every 67 second somebody in the USA develops Alzheimers. The disease never rests. Money earned through the sale of a semipostal for Alzheimer's would provide critical help for an underfunded research program, AND it would be great PR for the USPS!

    Mar 25, 2016
  • anon

    I've never bought one,but definitely purchase an Alzheimer's semipostal stamps to help raised awareness for the devastating disease.My personal interest is because my father is currently living with Alzheimer's /Dementia and as his caregiver I can tell you that it's overwhelming to realized that your father doesn't remember you."DOESN'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE TO HIM."so please make a stamps to support Alzheimer's research find a cure.

    Mar 16, 2016
  • anon

    I have not purchased this type of Stamp but I would if there was one for Alzheimer's. Please consider this very worthy cause

    Mar 09, 2016
  • anon

    Now is the time for a semipostal stamp to benefit Alzheimer's research. My mom passed away from this dreaded disease more than a dozen years ago and we still have no cure. But we must continue to fund research that can end Alzheimer's. Thank you.

    Mar 09, 2016
  • anon

    We need an Alzheimer's Awareness stamp. My dad recently passed away from this terrible disease that has no cure. Thank you.

    Mar 09, 2016
  • anon

    I support the idea of a semipostal stamp and would very much like to see one made to support Alzheimer's research. Not enough is known for this devastating disease and we need to see a cure be found!

    Mar 08, 2016
  • anon

    I would buy and promote a Alzheimer's semi-postal stamp.

    Mar 08, 2016
  • anon

    We need to help raise awareness & money for ALZ research - early onset ALZ is affecting people in their 30s and even younger!

    Mar 08, 2016
  • anon

    I would pay more and recommend to friends an Alzheimer's semi-postal stamp. While we don't use stamps as much as we used to, the funding that is potentially available through a stamp for Alzheimer's when used by millions is significant and meaningful. I watched my mom die from Alzheimer's Disease as well as two of her sisters, my aunts. It was painful to everyone involved from friends to family to caregivers, the silent victims of AD. As our society ages, the time is now to fully fund all research programs so that future generations will never go thru what my family did.

    Mar 07, 2016
  • anon

    The only way out of this ugly disease called Alzheimer's is to find a cure. But finding funding for research has been an extreme hurdle to leap! Creating a semi-postal stamp is a wonderful way to raise monies with little to no cost to the government. Why is this taking so long to get this done? I've watch my Great Grandmother, Grandmother, 2 great uncles and my father all suffer and die from this disease. And now I may be the next family victim. I have a genetic status that puts me at a 91% risk of getting Alzheimer's. I want to live long enough to make a difference but that won't happen if we can't fine a cure. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, create a semi-postal stamp STAT!

    Mar 06, 2016
  • anon

    I would like to add to the excellent comments below in support of an Alzheimer's semipostal stamp. As with so many others, this disease has literally 'surrounded' my close family & friends for decades, including witnessing both parents succumb a decade apart. It's also worth noting that because of concerted, nationwide advocacy on this issue, multiple pieces of legislation were put forth in support by key members of congress in both parties, both chambers & several congressional sessions, an uncommon occurrence these days---& notable nod to the 'will of the people' to get this done ! Anecdotal feedback from thousands of advocates indicates that they would indeed make this their primary means of postage, both in solidarity, and to allow those under the most dire financial duress (often from 24/7 personal care costs) a tangible way to still contribute towards meaningful research. The USPS would be doing a service to the entire nation by issuing this stamp.

    Mar 06, 2016
  • anon

    YES! I don't even buy regular stamps any longer, but I would buy these and gift them to friends and family who still use the Postal Service. Heck, I'd buy them and start a collection. I would collect them until a cure was found for Alzheimer's. If it were not found in my lifetime, I would have a younger relative take over for me. Please do this. Every little bit helps, every dime, every penny!!!

    Feb 28, 2016
  • anon

    Please make a stamp for Alzheimer's. There is no cure...no treatment...no prevention...please help us stamp out Alzheimer's!!

    Feb 27, 2016
  • anon

    Having lost my dear mother to Alzheimer's much, much too soon, I am a passionate supporter of introducing a semipostal stamp to raise funds for this insidious disease. Alzheimer's is the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. Many people don't realize that women over the age of 65 are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's as they are of developing breast cancer. With another American developing the disease every 67 seconds, it's absolutely critical that we increase funding for research. Put simply, if we remain on the current trajectory, Alzheimer's will bankrupt Medicare as the cost of the disease is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2050. Please do the right thing and introduce an Alzheimer's semipostal to help boost funding for crucial research! #HelpStampOutAlzhemers

    Feb 25, 2016
  • anon

    I highly support the concept of the semi-postal stamp and think that there should be one issued immediately to help raise funds for Alzheimer's research as this is already a huge problem that is growing into the major health crisis facing our country.

    Feb 24, 2016
  • anon

    AlzheimerÔÇÖs has earned its place on a semipostal stamp because of the sheer volume of our citizens who have families afflicted with this incurable disease. The aggressiveness of this disease has raised broad national appeal because 5.3 million Americans are currently living with AlzheimerÔÇÖs, and another 15.3 million individuals as caregivers. It is in our nationÔÇÖs public interest that we find a way to slow or cure this dreaded disease and further the human welfare of our nation. Therefore, I respectfully ask that the Postal ServiceÔÇÖs discretionary Semipostal Stamp Program be reauthorized and that the entire 10-year period be granted to an AlzheimerÔÇÖs Disease Research Semipostal stamp. I'm ready and willing to support this worthy cause and hope you will too. Let's Help Stamp Out AlzheimerÔÇÖs.

    Feb 24, 2016
  • anon

    I am a BIG supporter of semipostal stamps and have been purchasing and using the Breast Cancer semipostal since it was released in 1998. Since 2010 I have been pursuing the issuance of an Alzheimer's Disease Research semipostal via legislation. I have a Facebook advocacy page called Help Stamp OUT AlzheimerÔÇÖs devoted to these efforts. IÔÇÖm aware of the notice in the Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 14 / Friday, January 22, 2016 / Proposed Rules on the Semipostal Stamp Program an provided a response. I am in favor of removing certain restrictions on the commencement date for the Postal ServiceÔÇÖs discretionary Semipostal Stamp Program, and clarify how many semipostal stamps issued under that program may be on sale at any one time. IÔÇÖm extremely grateful that this proposed rule, if adopted, will reestablish the semipostal stamp program which was established under the Semipostal Authorization Act in 2000. The program was temporarily suspended with the passage of legislation that established the 9/11 Heroes Stamp, the Domestic Violence Semipostal Stamp and the reauthorization of the Breast Cancer Semipostal Stamp, following the tragic events of 9/11. The USPS never issued a semipostal under their discretionary Semipostal Stamp Program due to the continuous reauthorization of the Breast Cancer Stamp by Congress. On August 30, 2001, in accordance with the RFP issued by the USPS under that program, fellow AlzheimerÔÇÖs advocate Katherine (Kathy) Siggins of Mt. Airy, Maryland submitted her proposal in support of an AlzheimerÔÇÖs semipostal stamp. I believe her proposal is still pending. Like Kathy, I am one of countless Americans who have lost loved ones to AlzheimerÔÇÖs disease - first my dad, and then my husband. I was a caregiver for 18 years. AlzheimerÔÇÖs 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. It has earned its place on a semipostal stamp because of the sheer volume of our citizens who have families afflicted with this incurable disease. The aggressiveness of this disease has raised broad national appeal because 5.3 million Americans are currently living with AlzheimerÔÇÖs, and another 15.3 million individuals serve their loved ones as unpaid caregivers. Without an effective means to slow or prevent this always fatal disease, by 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with AlzheimerÔÇÖs disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million ÔÇö a 40 percent increase from the 5.3 million age 65 and older currently affected. They and their families will suffer immeasurably. It is in our nationÔÇÖs public interest that we find a way to slow or cure AlzheimerÔÇÖs and further the human welfare of our nation. With a problem of such magnitude we must use every means available to move us swiftly towards a cure. The Alzheimer's 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. Therefore, I respectfully ask that the Postal ServiceÔÇÖs discretionary Semipostal Stamp Program be reauthorized and that the entire 10-year period be granted to an AlzheimerÔÇÖs Disease Research Semipostal stamp. The public is ready and willing to support this worthy cause which will Help Stamp Out AlzheimerÔÇÖs. It is now time for an AlzheimerÔÇÖs Disease Semipostal Stamp. I urge you to take action and provide hope where so little hope exists.

    Feb 24, 2016
  • anon

    Ms. Everman, Thank you for posting this comment and for your passion and commitment to the Alzheimer's cause! When I sent my post I did not know the army of supporters I would be joining. As a fairly new member of the Alzheimer's caregiver club (I am approaching a year since my mother's diagnosis) I learned very quickly this disease is the worst one known. It takes everything from the afflicted person and so much more out of those who lovingly care for them. Despite it all, we continue to do it; many times without additional financial support. I also learned each one of my closest friends is or had also experienced this journey. I would not have known had I not shared my story. I learned we "suffer in silence". It is time to break this silence and bring the conversation out in the open so that more can be done to prevent the disease and also educate others about the disease before it strikes. I believe the stamp would help. With all the great information you provided in your post, I will join your cause and urge my elected officials, family and friends to support this stamp. We will get it done! Blessings to you and to the millions of caregivers around the world battling this Alzheimer's journey!

    May 17, 2017
  • anon

    Semipostals are very successful in countries were the extra money is actually used for the beneficial cause advertised on the stamp. In the USA however this doesnÔÇÖt seem to be the case. E.g. as of August 2015, the breast cancer stamp raised over $80.9 million for breast cancer research. 56.69 million of the net amount were given to the National Institutes of Health (NIoH) and 24.27 million to the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defence (DoD). Have you seen any positive reports or breast cancer research publishings from either the NIoH or the DoD? I certainly havenÔÇÖt! Consequently I can only assume that the NIoH is using the money for other matters where they lack funding and only the simplest of minds will believe that the DoD is doing breast cancer research. That is a darned cheek, if you will pardon my saying so.

    Feb 02, 2016

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