Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why is my annual OA dues renewal letter so late?

Since I took over the voluntary position of adviser to the Membership Committee of Nentico Lodge, I've learned a lot about mailing. Maybe I learned things that I would rather not have known, but I've had to in order to assist getting membership renewals delivered. Since one just arrived today for my son (mine was paid for via the Golden Ticket), I figured it was time to review the steps. Next year we'll do better, I hope.

My training began prior to the LLDC in December 2010, but that was more or less my formal start of the role. We talked about OA LodgeMaster quite a bit, and not so much about the dues process. At that point, I knew we needed to draft a letter, prepare a mailing list, and that was about it. I wasn't thinking about envelopes, postal meters, or much else yet to be revealed.


Harry sent me various forms of the Lodge letterhead, as he has the originals and it didn't make sense for me to scan anything. I thought it would be good to avoid any printing where the masthead or any other boilerplate text is already.


Tony sent me the contact person for the mailing house. In subsequent days, I talked to the person about the process, what format they needed the letter and mailing list in, and other steps that needed to occur. I sent later emails and left voice messages, which stopped being returned. That was strange, but what did I know?


Tyler and I worked on the language of the letter, trying to include updates about recording emails, and fitting everything into place.


Tyler, Harry and others reviewed the draft letter, moving things around to make it work


I met with Eric and Casey to go over the money and resource side of this; Eric said he could set up onlines dues payments. I was a little leery of changing the letter, thinking it was going to go out in a few days, and we had not tested dues collection or reporting.


Tony gave me more instructions on producing the mailing list, and other tips on the process, such as where the envelopes were, or should be. Then it was Christmas, and I stopped working on this until after the New Year.


Bob and Tony and I corresponded about where the dues letters were. I thought we just needed to do a few more things and they would be sent out shortly.


I started working with a new contact from the mailing house, after learning the previous contact was gone late in December. We went over what they had, what they needed, and what I needed to do.


I worked with Joe and Casey on topping off the postage meter, based on the number of letters and the non-profit rate we've always used.


The mailing house found 4 addresses with forwarding instructions in the US system; I found new addresses from ScoutNet. They said changing these would be a re-work charge, so I said never mind.


The mailing house sent images "for approval" of the letter, and the envelope. After reviewing it, I found some fields were not lining up as my document had them


I sent back the revised instructions and the mailing house updated the letter so that data fields were correct.


We sent a mass email to Lodge members, telling them dues renewals would be mailed out soon. Fewer than 100 bounced. The online dues renewal was not quite ready, but we've gotten about 20 as of the end of January.


The online dues renewal was ready. A few folks tried it out.


One set of envelopes was ready for pickup. I drove a set down to the mailing house.


The postal meter funds were ready, but the mailing house needed 1000 more envelopes, as they miscounted their stock.


Big surprise - the mailing house postal clerk said that the letter can't be sent under a non-profit stamp since the content included personal information. After much back and forth, we realized this was strictly true, though it had never been mentioned in the past. They had printed and stuffed the envelopes, but could not mail them. We went through our options, all of which would cost money. There was a lot of shock factor.


Joe suggested we take out the personal parts of the letter, as an option. I didn't like it much, as it would kick back the timetable, but the extra $900 was going to be hard to justify.


The mailing house gave a quote for a revised letter, which was much less than the first class postage would be, so we decided to do that. It meant finding new blank letterhead (over 2,000 sheets), and new envelopes.


We ordered more stationery from Harry.


The mailing house shredded the old letters and we approved the new format. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but my towel was out and waving.


The letterhead arrived at the mailing house.


The carrier envelopes (the outside window envelopes) were delivered to the mailing house.


The return envelopes arrived at the mailing house. This was the last piece of the giant puzzle for 2011.


The dues renewal letters are in the mail...

1 comment:

Tony said...

Thanks for persevering through this irksome task!