Distribution Essentials

A. Essentials for Distribution

  1. How will parents receive the newsletter?
  2. How do we get parents’ addresses?
  3. How do we create the mailing?
  4. How much will postage cost?
  5. Who will pay for printing (and postage) costs?
  6. How do I create a local partnership for distribution?
  7. Why do so many Extension offices partner with Kiwanis Clubs?
  8. Using the Preparing to Parent Newsletters

You may also be interested in Common Distribution Problems & Solutions


A. Essentials for Distribution

1. How will parents receive the newsletter?

UW-Extension’s parenting newsletters may be delivered by hand as an adjunct to existing programs. For instance, Parenting the First Year and Parenting the Second and Third Years may be handed out at pediatric visits, or through home visitation or childcare programs, at parent resource libraries, or by high school teachers (working with teen parents) and other parent educators. In other words, the newsletters fit flexibly into many types of programs.  With this delivery method the only cost involves making copies of the newsletters.

Another common method of delivery is sending newsletters through the mail. Using mail delivery is especially useful in reaching parents who avoid or may not have the time for face-to-face parenting programs, or do not have Internet access. The majority of Extension offices in Wisconsin, in collaboration with their community partners, mail the newsletter series to parents. The rest of this memo describes how to distribute the newsletters by mail.


2. How do we get parents’ addresses?

Mailing lists may be obtained from the local maternity hospitals, county/state birth records, health departments, or newspaper birth announcements (see note on HIPAA problems under “Common Distribution Problems and Solutions”). The most commonly used source is maternity hospitals


3. How do we create the mailing?

Hospitals often have a technology department that will print a mail label for each birth in the prior month; ask them for 12 copies and label them 1-12 so you will know which issue to mail each month. If that isn’t possible, hospitals or health departments will often provide the address data in an electronic file that can be imported into an Access database for management and label printing (Clark and Oconto Counties do this).

Volunteers from Kiwanis (or other service clubs or partners) often coordinate the preparation of the mailing, so every family receives the correct issue of the newsletter each month. In Oconto County where they use Access database the issue number is actually printed right on the mailing label. Preparation for mailing requires approximately 15 person-hours per hundred newsletters. This means that 7 volunteers, working together, can prepare a mailing of one hundred newsletters in about 2 hours. The newsletters are folded in half, with the back page out (that includes local partner information), and stapled or taped before affixing the mailing labels. If you are including one of the new literacy or temperament insert pages (Parenting Future Readers or Parenting Your Unique Child) with the mailing, the insert can be placed on top of the newsletter before folding and stapling.


4. How much will postage cost?

  • a. Bulk rate:
    • There is an annual fee for bulk rate. To use bulk rate you need to mail a minimum of 200 pieces of presorted mail per mailing (each month). Local postmasters may interpret this rule differently, with some allowing that Parenting the First Year (PFY) and Parenting the Second and Third Years (PSTY) are really part of the same mailing. Others go to the opposite extreme, contending that issue 1 and issue 2 of PFY should be treated as different mailings. With bulk rate, if you have non-profit status, the cost is usually less than if you are a business. If you are using bulk rate, adding one of the inserts in with the newsletters won’t increase the postage costs (although the weight for each bulk mailing must be the same, so every newsletter must receive a 1-sheet insert). Bulk rate allows each mailed piece to go up to 3.3 ounces without being pushed into the next price category. Hospitals usually have a bulk rate permit, so if you are mailing through the hospital your group of partners may only need to pay for the cost of postage. The bulk permit address must, however, match the return address.
  • b. First class postage:
    • First class postage: Each newsletter weighs .9 ounces, so it will go for the current first class postage cost for 1.0 ounce items. Adding one of the inserts adds an additional .2 ounces for a total of 1.1 ounces. This will increase the cost to the next category for first class postage. To keep postage costs from going up, you might consider having the newsletters printed locally on lighter weight paper. If the newsletters are printed on 24 lb. weight paper and the insert on regular 20 lb. paper the total weight stays at 1.0 ounce, or the least expensive category for first class postage.

5. Who will pay for printing (and postage) costs?

In some counties, the county Extension budget covers the cost. But this is unusual. Most commonly, the costs are borne by local partnerships, especially with Kiwanis Clubs (and other service clubs), county and city health departments, and hospitals. In some counties, funding is supplemented by including a “fundraising card” in issue 12 of Parenting the First Year, so that parents may donate to offset the costs of printing and postage. One family who received Parenting the First Year donated $10,000 to help us produce our new series for the prenatal months, Preparing to Parent. Other families have contributed money to help us expand distribution to more families.


6. How do I create a local partnership for distribution?

The most common strategy for distributing the newsletters has been a 3-way partnership between a UW-Extension county office, a local maternity hospital, and local Kiwanis Clubs. Other local partnerships have included city or county health departments, hospital auxiliaries, Home; Community Education Clubs, Lioness Clubs, Optimist International Clubs and private businesses. Deciding who you want to recruit as partners is up to you. You can use this Marketing Flyer to help recruit organizational partners for the Parenting the First Year newsletter project. You may also want to share this summary of key evaluation findings for the newsletters when discussing the project with potential partners.

In some counties, an initial partnership with a Kiwanis Club has led to additional partners, because the Kiwanis members were connected to so many other organizations in the community. If you have one partner, like Kiwanis, ask their help in recruiting additional needed partners.

Extension offices throughout Wisconsin have accomplished distribution in many different ways, creatively responding to local opportunities. Here are examples of how partnerships have worked in two Wisconsin counties

  • a. County A
    • i. Two Kiwanis clubs provide the funds to purchase (print) the newsletters, and volunteers to coordinate monthly mailings.
    • ii. The County Hospital funds the postage cost, and provides staff to print and attach mailing labels. Both the hospital and Kiwanis clubs (along with the Extension office) are featured on the back page of each issue of the newsletter.
  • b. County B
    • i. The Extension Agent chairs a collaboration of 9 organizations, including two hospitals, two Kiwanis Clubs, the Family Health Center, the County Partnership Co., the Children’s Miracle Network, and the County Health Department.
    • ii. Each of these organizations contributes to either the funding or distribution of the newsletters.
    • iii.The Extension Agent chairs a twice-yearly meeting of all the collaborators to coordinate their efforts and plan for the future.

After you approach potential partners you can meet with them to discuss your common goals of serving the needs of new parents. Offer to print their name/logo/referral number on the back page of the newsletters (other local resource information can also be included, such as phone numbers of the local Family Resource Center or the Birth to Three program). You and your partners will come to feel a sense of ownership of the program. Periodic evaluations of the newsletter that demonstrate its effectiveness at promoting competent parenting will encourage continuing support from your community collaborators. See our evaluation website.

After an evaluation of the newsletters is completed you will have a written report with figures and graphics, a series of press releases (you can send to local papers), a sample handout for use at presentations you may give, and a power point presentation of your local evaluation to show to your partners! When your collaborators see your presentations this will keep the partnership energized.

  • a. Emphasize these points when you first approach potential organizational partners:
    • i. The goal of the project (helping parents raise their children better) is shared by all the partner organizations.
    • ii. Research verifies that this project really works, and not many parenting education programs can say that (we are an “evidence based” program).
    • iii. On a per-family basis, this project is really inexpensive, only about $8 to $10 per family per year.
    • iv. All the partners can have their organization’s name and logo printed on the back page of the newsletters (which is the first page seen when mailed), so the project will be identified as belonging to them as much as to Extension.

7. Why do so many Extension offices partner with Kiwanis Clubs?

The Kiwanis international focus is “Young Children: Priority One,” which fits this project perfectly. They are looking for projects like ours, in which they can have faith that their hours of work and financial contributions will really do some good for young children. We began coordinating and then collaborating with the Wisconsin-Upper Peninsula District of Kiwanis over a decade ago, when their District Governor was Norm Everson, a retired 4-H Specialist. Since then, 165 Kiwanis Clubs in this District (and many others across the country) have partnered with county Extension offices on this project. If you approach a local Kiwanis Club, remind them that this is a District-wide project for Kiwanis.


8. Using the Preparing to Parent Newsletters