Stamp designer Rex Davenport has an innovative idea for fundraising for disaster support in Puerto Rico: a fundraising stamp.
This isn’t a completely new idea. There is a fundraising stamp for breast cancer research, for example, which has raised more than $85 million for the National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense.The cost of the stamp includes the postage and an additional amount donated to the NIH and the Medical Research Program, so consumers can conveniently make a donation when they buy postage stamps. Stamps of this kind are called “semi-postal” stamps.
Semi-postal stamps are used just like regular postage stamps.
Davenport, a stamp designer with designs for a number of different countries’ stamps under his belt, was moved by the news about Puerto Rico. “The apocalyptic devastation has crippled communications and decimated schools and hospitals hammered by a prolonged economic crisis,” he wrote. “Therefore I have created this Hurricane Maria Emergency Funding postage design in order to relieve the devastating cost and burden that has been placed on the Puerto Rican people.”
His design includes, as the artist explains, “a beautiful flower blooming which represents restoration of the stricken island, and the rebuilding of lives for the People of Puerto.”
Davenport has reached out to Senator Marco Rubio for support as he submits his design to the Postmaster General. There is also a Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, but they generally do not approve semi-postal designs. The breast cancer research stamp was created in 1997 when several individuals persuaded Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) to support the idea. Feinstein and a handful of colleagues were able, with grassroots support behind them, to make the stamp a reality.
Semi-postal stamps are not often issued, but this creative fundraising idea might help Puerto Rico, which has sustained something like $95 billion in damages from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. President Trump has requested $29 billion in aid for Puerto Rico from Congress.