Using Mass Email Services



Using Mass Email Services

There are four possible ways to send mass emails to your donors. None of these ways are available with the free Lite version of DONATION, because one of its limitations is that it does not allow you to record email address for donors.


The first way to send mass emails is done through the program, as explained under Emailing Receipts, Letters and Statements. That has the advantage of allowing you to merge virtually any information in the program into those letters.


Another way, if you just want to send the same PDF newsletter to all donors with email address, is to use the Letters Email Newsletters menu option. This is a simple way to email reasonable numbers of previously prepared PDF documents (such as newsletters) to all or some donors, with no merging of information.


Similar to that is the Letters Email Everyone menu option. It allows you to send just a simple email with no attachment to all or some donors.


However, for large numbers of donors (many hundreds, or particularly if you have thousands of donors) doing mass emails from your own computer can run into dangers of your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the ISPs of your recipients classing you as a spammer, and not allowing your emails to go through.


For emails with little or no merging required, like newsletters, another option, which significantly decreases the danger of being classed as a spammer, is to use a mass mailing service such as Constant Contact, Vertical Response, MailChimp, or Campaign Monitor (which is the one that we here at Software4Nonprofits currently use for our mass emailing).


Unlike the Letters Email Newsletters menu option, those services generally do not allow you to attach PDF files to the emails they send. The emails you sent through them will generally be designed in HTML (though text-only emails are usually also supported). The design of the HTML for the emails can be done by you outside of the service, though they often also have facilities for designing emails based on templates that they (or you) create, without having to know much or any HTML.


To use such a mass mailing service like Constant Contact, you need to upload email addresses, and whatever other information you want the service to be able to merge into your emails, from DONATION into that service. You do that by selecting the desired fields in the Reports ⇒ Custom Report window, running the report, then using the Save As button to save it to a file format that you can import into the service (probably tab-separated Text).


Be sure when choosing your fields in the Custom Reports window to only select one row of data per donor - if you include things like donation detail fields, you will get more than one row of data per donor, which will not work, because the mass mailing services will only accept one row for each email address.


Of course, it is your responsibility to figure out how to best use a mass mailing service, and to choose the right one for your organization. We cannot help you with that, only with exporting the data for use in the service.


One thing to keep in mind is that if you keep uploading exported lists of donors to the mass emailing service, unless you delete the list in that service before each upload, any donors you have deleted in DONATION will still exist in the service. So when you delete donors from DONATION, you may have to go online to the service to also delete them there as well, to make sure they do not keep receiving your mailings.


An advantage of not deleting your list before each upload of donor information from DONATION is that the services generally keep track of which emails have been sent to whom, and when possible they also tell you who has opened each email. If you delete the list, you lose that past information.