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)

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  • anon

    I'd like to see a stamp to support Alzheimer's as well. My father is 53, and was diagnosed 3 years ago two weeks after retiring from a 30 year career as a decorated police officer. Alzheimer's does not discriminate and developing a stamp for this cause would help raise awareness and appropriate funding to STOP this disease.

    Jun 02, 2016
  • anon

    My husband is only 68 years and has had early onset Alzheimer's as best we can diagnose for almost 20 years. Way too young. We need a cure. Funds for research and communication of knowledge that we do have NOW today so we can have a quality of life for those Afflicted and the caregivers. Please please Stamp Out Alzheimer today. Approve this stamp now

    Jun 02, 2016
  • anon

    Just loss my mom to Alzheimer's. The only disease with no prevention, no cure ,no help and no hope with no survivors. we need to get the word out there alzheimer's is deadly .

    Jun 02, 2016
  • anon

    Alzheimer's is a global epidemic, with millions of Americans affected annually. Position the United States as a leader in raising awareness, research, and support funding. A postage stamp is a simple but important step in that direction. There are many fine products on the market that support our loved ones who contract Alzheimer's Disease. However, the solution is in prevention and cure - not just palliative support. We have that covered. David L. Wiederrich CEO and Co-Founder KalendarKards.com

    Jun 01, 2016
  • anon

    Would like to see a stamp for Alzeimers research. I think the semipostal stamps are a great idea and way to support a cause.

    May 31, 2016
  • anon

    How many more families have to suffer the demise of a loved one before we collectively say 'enough is enough'. PLEASE show the world you support Alzheimer research. Joanne Koenig Coste, author Learning to Speak Alzheimer's

    May 29, 2016
  • anon

    Please consider a stamp supporting Alzheimer's and Dementia. Thank you

    May 28, 2016
  • anon

    I would support a stamp for Alzheimer's.

    May 27, 2016
  • anon

    I support the postal stamp for Alzheimer's

    May 26, 2016
  • anon

    I support the alzheimers stamps

    May 26, 2016
  • anon

    I would definitely support the semi-postal stamp for Alzheimer's Research.

    May 26, 2016
  • anon

    Congress, please approve a semipostal stamp to help fund Alzheimer's research.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support a stamp for Alzheimers.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    Please issue the alzheimers stamp , I will pay extra to support the cause.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support a semipostal stamp for Alzheimer's Disease research.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    Would like to see a stamp supporting Alzheimer's research.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    Please help with funding Alzheimer's research with a postage stamp! My 57 -year old sister has had Early Onset for seven years and our dad has had it for years and is now 83. We need a cure !!!

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    Please support Alzheimer's with a stamp. An unbelievable amount of people are affected and millions more will be in the future.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I am in full support of a semi postal stamp for Alzheimers. I am watching my mother waste away from this horrible disease. Please help millions through this effort.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    For my mom and my Uncle whom ALZ took and all the talents it devoured when it came for them. there can not be a cure without research and I hope and pray that a cure comes soon.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support a postal stamp for Alzheimer's Disease.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I wholeheartedly support and would purchase semipostal stamps supporting Alzheimer's research and awareness.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    Get the stamp going..so I can go buy some!

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support a stamp for Alzheimers. My father has had it for almost 9 years.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support an Alzheimer's semi-postal stamp.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I totally support an Alzheimer's semi postal stamp!

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support a semi postal stamp for Alzheimer's research.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support the Alzheimers semi postal stamp. We need to eradicate this horrible disease!

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support Alzheimer's semi postal stamp

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    Yes without a doubt...I support a semi postal stamp for Alzheimer's research. My mom and three of her siblings have passed....all of them from Alzheimer's.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    Please help millions by creating a semi-postal Alzheimer's stamp. Thank you.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support a semi-postal Alzheimer's stamp. It will help millions of people living with dementia and it will help their care partners, family, and friends. Warmly, Deborah

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support semi-postal stamp for Alzheimer's. Please...for the future of her grandchildren.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support a stamp for Altzhimers research/awareness...many of our generation get this disease and what it costs in heart break as well as cost of care is horrible.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support an Alzheimer's semi-postal stamp

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support an Alzheimer's semi-postal stamp

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support a stamp for Alzheimer's disease.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support a stamp for Alzheimer's disease.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support alzheimers semopostal stamp!

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    My mom Alzheimer's was for 17 years, she is now 75 years old. There is no hope for cure for mom. There is hope for her grandchildren. We just need the funding to find a cure. We have the greatest scientists, the greatest technology and research, we just need funding. I want mom's grandchildren to know there is a cure in their generation. I support A semi postal stamp for Alzheimer's disease!

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I would like to see an Alzheimer/dementia stamp. Please consider a stamp to help with research for this devastating disease.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    I support the Akzheimers postage stamp!

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    Would you please create a semi-postal stamp for Alzheimer's research? My grandfather died of it. Many of my family have suffered seminar problems. I'm next in line. Thank you.

    May 24, 2016
  • anon

    Please issue an Alzheimer's awareness stamp.

    May 24, 2016
  • anon

    We need a dementia semipostal stamp. I've written to Senator Warren with a proposed concept, but no response as yet.

    May 23, 2016
  • anon

    I would pay extra for an Àlzheimers stamp.

    May 23, 2016
  • anon

    very much in favor of a postal stamp calling attention to Alzheimer's Disease--as the Baby Boomers age, it's going to affect millions more!

    May 23, 2016
  • anon

    Please consider a stamp to help stamp out the 6 leading cause of death, Alzheimer's.Thanks.

    May 21, 2016
  • anon

    I whole-heartedly agree with the idea of a U.S. Postal stamp supporting Alzheimer's - way past due! Any and all help we can get to fight this disease is another step in the right direction toward a cure!

    May 20, 2016
  • anon

    As we all approach being older, it is becoming more obvious that much research needs to be done on finding the causes and cures for the dementia diseases, especially Alzheimer's Disease. I encourage the USPS to create a Alzheimer's Disease Semipostal Stamp to raise awareness and funds for dementia research. Thank you!

    May 20, 2016

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