WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Postal Service announced a rule change Thursday to permit nonprofit organizations to have professional fund-raisers handle their mailings.

Use of the lower postage rates allowed for nonprofit groups had been limited to mail sent by those organizations themselves.

Under the change, effective Nov. 13, professional fund-raising businesses will be allowed to mail at the lower rates when they are sending mail for qualified charities.

The aim of the change is to assist smaller charities that don't have the resources to do their own fund raising, allowing them to hire a company to handle that for them.

When the rule was first proposed, concern was raised in Congress that unscrupulous fund-raisers could take advantage of small charities, taking over their fund-raising campaigns and then passing along only a fraction of the income.

The final rule includes a provision that the charity can insist that the fund-raising company provide it a list of donors and the amount given.

The nonprofit arm of the Direct Marketing Association welcomed the new rule, saying it will allow small nonprofits to increase their pool of donors.

But Beth Colella, policy and program assistant at the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, said her organization was ``a little disappointed'' in the final rule because charities can waive their right to get a list of donors, raising the possibility they could be abused.

The new rule covers only solicitations for donations, not offers to sell products or services.