The U.S. Postal Service has had a meaningful role in the lives of older Americans for hundreds of years. Through its vast network of letter carriers and post offices, it reliably delivers critical information, medicine, and supplies nationwide. Wellness organizations are also important to the health and independence of this generation as they provide programs to promote financial, physical, and mental health. Yet, wellness organizations are facing financial challenges because organizational funding has remained constant, despite an increase in the population of older Americans. Budget constraints cause service gaps, including limited outreach and understanding about available programs, fewer physical locations to receive in-person supplies and services, and a digital service disconnect due to lack of Internet access or digital literacy.
Paradoxically, the budget constraints can also have a positive effect. Tighter budgets often incentivize wellness organizations to run efficiently and seek synergistic partnerships that leverage the existing resources of outside organizations for a better outcome. The Postal Service could be an ideal partner for wellness organizations working to close service gaps. Building on its core competencies, the Postal Service could coordinate and collaborate with wellness organizations to offer new and far-reaching services to older Americans nationwide. To explore this possibility, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) hosted a discussion forum with representatives from wellness and postal organizations. This paper summarizes the discussion from the event and identifies related opportunities.
Participants came to a consensus that collaborations could help wellness organizations cost-effectively meet their objectives and provide financial benefits for the Postal Service. For example, a postal partnership could maximize a wellness organization’s return on investment by allowing it to reach more individuals by leveraging letter carriers or renting post office space, while avoiding the cost of maintaining and staffing parallel brick-and mortar facility networks. Partnerships could allow wellness organizations to reach more Americans while using fewer resources. When funders — either governmental or private entities — see how much more efficiently and effectively these wellness programs are providing services, they are more likely to further invest in the programs, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved.
The Postal Service would benefit from these partnerships by generating additional revenue from any of four sources: charging individuals a fee for services, partnership fees, rental income, and additional sales through increased foot traffic and improved brand strength. The funding sources could also support the Postal Service in developing the skillsets and core competencies necessary to provide more services and supplies to the homebound and elderly population. Figure 1 identifies the possible wellness services and supplies explained within this paper.