Emailing Donors with Optional Attachments

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Emailing Donors with Optional Attachments

The menu option Letters Email Donors can be used to send an email to all donors with email addresses, optionally including the same PDF file as an attachment. That optional attachment might be a newsletter, or perhaps a fundraising document.


Note: Prior to Release 4.37 of DONATION, this menu option was split into two: Letters Email Everyone that allowed you to send an email with no attachment, and Letters Email Newsletters that allowed you to send an email with an attachment. Now the one menu option Email Donors handles either process.


Of course, when we say "donors", they do not have to have actually donated any money - they just have to be on the Donor List in the program.


While the options described here allow you to email a fixed PDF attachment to donors as an attachment, with no merging, or just a plain email with no attachment, there may be cases when one of the other methods for emailing to donors from DONATION (Emailing Receipts, Letters or Statements, or Using Mass Email Services) would be more appropriate. Please see Using Mass Email Services for a full discussions of the pros and cons of each method.


Before you can use Letters Email Donors, you need to configure email sending from the program, via the Maintenance Email Sending Configuration menu option.


When you use the Letters Email Donors menu option, the following window will come up:




If you have sent emails with an attachment with this window before, the last-used PDF attachment filename will appear in section (2) when the window appears. If that does not happen, or the filename that appears is not the file for the current attachment that you want to send out, you can either type the desired filename into that field, or click the Browse button to select the desired file. If you don't want an attachment sent with this email, just delete anything in that field.


Normally this window sends the emails, with the optional attachment, to all donors who have email addresses. However, there is an option to filter (select) them based on the contents of various donor fields, if you check the checkbox in section (1) of the window. See below for details.


Another option that affects what happens in these windows is the "Email receipts, letters and statements only to yourself, for testing" checkbox in the Maintenance Receipt Options window. Although that option doesn't explicitly mention other emailing, it does apply here as well. If it is checked, when you go to email in these windows, it will only send one, to your email address as set in the Maintenance Email Sending Configuration window (though the "To" name will be the name of the first donor). A message box will explain that fact when you click Email in this window.


When you are ready to start sending the emails, click the Email button. As explained in the section below, if you checked the checkbox in section (1), you will first be shown the donors who will receive the emails, and then if you also click Email in that window, the emailing will start.


Before the emailing starts, the following window comes up to confirm the Subject line and Body of the email that will be sent to the donors, with any attachment that you specified shown as the Automatic Attachment:




If you did not specify an attachment, "n/a" (for "not applicable") will appear in the Automatic Attachment field. You cannot use the Optional Attachment field in this case (it is available when emailing receipts and mail-merge letters).


The From Name and Email address in this window will be your name and email address, as configured in Maintenance Email Sending Configuration. The signature block at the end of the Body will be based on what you have entered in Maintenance Organization Info. However, you can edit the Subject line and Body to be however you want them to be. The Body is normally just plain text, so you cannot include fonts or images, but see below for an exception. Your edits to the Subject and Body will be saved for the next time you email with this menu option. Please note that once they have been saved once, even if you change the organization info in Maintenance Organization Info, the signature block in the Body will not change - you will have to also change it there, the next time you send emails.


In terms of what is memorized for the Subject and Body for the next use, the program actually memorizes and re-uses one pair of those values for emails you send with no attachment, and a different pair for emails you send with an attachment.


The "Insert Field" drop-down list above the Body contains most donor data fields. Selecting a field from that list then clicking the Insert button inserts that merge field at the current cursor position in the Body. If you insert fields in that way, each email body will be personalized using that donor's data for the inserted fields. Probably the field you would most likely insert would be «Name», the donor's full name (or business name, if there is one). For details on all of the available merge fields, see Mail Merge Fields - the available ones are the Common Donor and Organization Information fields, and also the specific Donor Information fields.


Although the Insert button only inserts fields directly into the text Body of the email, you can actually cut or copy and paste them from there into the Subject line for the email, and that will also cause the donor's data to be merged into that Subject line.


You can actually send the Body of the email as HTML, if you are very familiar with it, by having "<html>" (without the quotes) as the very first thing in the Body, and ending it with "</html>". Of course, other appropriate changes have to be made to make it valid HTML that will display well, and you need to be cautious with what HTML elements you use, because not all email programs and devices display complex HTML well. See below for more details.


After clicking OK in that window, the program will start to send the emails to each donor with an email address (or each one left after any filtering you did).


As it works, the name of the person to whom the current email is being sent will be displayed, above the Email button on the main email sending window. When the emails have all been sent, you will receive a message saying how many were sent. While the emailing is going on, the Close button changes itself to say Cancel - clicking that button stops the emailing after the one that it was currently working on when you clicked it.


As always, you can click Help in this window to see this Help page, and you can click Close or press ESC in this window to close the window. You are returned back to this window when the emailing is finished, after which you will need to close the window.


Note: Because the emailing is done by an email sending component that is part of DONATION, with no connection to any email program that you use normally (such as Outlook), there is no record of which emails were sent to which donors in the Sent Mail folder of your email program. To get a blind copy of each email that is sent, you can check the "Bcc: to yourself" checkbox in the Maintenance Receipt Options window.



Filtering or Reviewing Information Before Emailing


In section (1) of this menu option's window, you can check a checkbox labelled "I want to filter the donors before emailing them". If you check this, you will be shown the selected information for all donors in a window similar to DONATION's reports viewing window, after you click on Email. From that window, you can click the Filter button if you wish, and enter filter criteria to determine which of the donors the emails should be sent to. See the section on Filtering Reports for more information on how to use this.


Using this checkbox option and window can also be helpful just to see the names and email addresses that the emails will be sent to, before you send them, even if you have no need to filter it further.


Click Email in that window when you are satisfied with the data, or Cancel if you decide you don't want to send the emails for the displayed donors.


One example of when you might use filtering is if you use the Donor Category 1 field to classify donors as Members or other statuses, and want to send the emails only to your members.


If so, in the window for emailing newsletters or emailing everyone, after specifying the desired newsletter file if necessary, check the checkbox for filtering, then click Email. In the window showing the selected donors, click Filter. In the Filter window, enter the following as the options:










Click OK in that Filter window, and the data will be redisplayed, but only including the matching donors. Click Email in that viewing window, and the emailing will be done, but including only those donors who had that value ("Member") in their Category 1 field.


Warning about being classified as a SPAMmer!


If you have very large numbers of donors with email addresses that you send emails or newsletters to, it is possible that either your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the ISPs of the recipients of your emails will classify you as a spammer, when you send lots of emails very quickly as the program can do. This is a general problem with sending large numbers of mass emails, and is very hard to work around.


It is impossible to give a specific number of emails at which this might start being a problem. In our experience sending emails to the users of the DONATION program, we started observing the problem when we had a few thousand users. But we would guess that the problem could start when you email quickly to as few as a hundred donors.


There is unfortunately no simple way to get around this problem. (We get around it by using a commercial mass email sending service, that works closely with all ISPs to ensure that their emails are not classed as SPAM. But you couldn't use an email-sending service to send a previously prepared PDF newsletter to each donor - they generally do not allow attachments.) So, if you do have very large numbers of donors with email addresses, you may want to think carefully about whether or not to use this feature for sending emails or newsletters from within DONATION.


One thing that might help would be to send the emails in smaller batches, and only do a certain number per day. You would do that with filtering, as described above. We cannot in any way guarantee that this will prevent you from being classified as a spammer, but it makes sense that it might help.


It's also possible that your ISP will restrict you to sending a certain number of emails per day, or a certain number within a given period of time (like an hour), even though they aren't classifying you as a spammer for trying to exceed that.


If you do have large numbers of donors with email addresses, one thing you could do is to talk to your ISP about their sending limits for emails, or email with attachments if you are doing newsletters. Ask what quantities per day or hour you need to limit yourself to, to prevent your ISP classifying you as a spammer, and adjust your email sending accordingly.


Using HTML in the Body


As mentioned above, you can actually send the body of the email as HTML, if you are very familiar with it, by having "<html>" (without the quotes) as the very first thing in the body, and ending it with "</html>". Of course, other appropriate changes have to be made to make it valid HTML that will display well, and you need to be cautious with what HTML elements you use, because not all email programs and devices display complex HTML well.


As soon as you prefix the body text with "<html>", a button appears saying Show HTML in Browser, right above the editing area for the body. Clicking that will display the body in your default web browser (such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome), so you can see how it looks. However, complex HTML may look fine in your web browser may not come out well in all email programs.


See the Help topic HTML in Emails to Donors for some very simple examples and instruction.


Handling halts in the emailing


If your Internet Service Provider, through which you are sending the emails, immediately reports back to the email software used by DONATION that one of the email addresses you are sending to is invalid, you might get an error message causing the process to halt. The message will tell you who the last person was that received the email successfully. You will want to fix the bad email address (if possible) and resume sending later at the same or following email.


So the first thing you do is exit the emailing window, and fix that email address on DONATION's main window, or remove the email address. Then restart the emailing, and use a Filter to eliminate the names that it was previously successful for.


Because the sort order in the displayed donors is by the "Name" field, which is the business name if there is one, or otherwise the first name then last name), it would be quite easy to devise a filter to resume at the desired person. (See Filtering Reports for details.) For instance, to resume at "Dan Cooperstock", use the filter:







Greater Than or Equal To

Dan Cooperstock


Click OK in the Filter window to display just those donors that satisfy the Filter condition, then click Email in that data viewing window to do the emailing.


Allowing for and Handling Unsubscribes


Depending on your local laws, and perhaps on the contents of the text part of your email and the PDF file you are attaching, your emailing may be covered by anti-SPAM legislation. Even if not, out of courtesy you should probably make it clear to your users how to unsubscribe from receiving your email newsletter mailings.


Because the emailing is being done by this program that is installed on your computer, rather than a web-based service, there is really no clear way to automate the handling of unsubscribes. That's why the default text body of the email, as shown in the window above, includes a sentence about unsubscribing by replying to the email with the Subject line "Unsubscribe". Of course, you can change that however you wish, or remove it if you do not feel it is necessary or appropriate.


If you do leave something like that in (or if email recipients contact you anyways to ask to be unsubscribed from your mailings) you will need to determine how to handle it. If the person hasn't donated anything, and the only reason they were entered as a "donor" in DONATION was to get them onto the mailing list, one option would be just to delete their donor record. But more likely you will want to somehow mark up their donor record, perhaps with a selection in one of the two donor category fields, or with a code in one of the six renameable Other Info fields (set up on the Maintenance ⇒ Main Window Options window), Then when you do further mass emails, you can use the capability to Filter the donors before sending, to exclude those donors who have unsubscribed, based on how you coded them. See Filtering Reports for details.


Mailing to Donors with No Email Address


You will probably want to also mail a printed newsletter to your donors that don't have an email address, by regular postal mail. To make that easier, you can print mailing labels or envelopes for them, with Reports Donor Mailing Labels or Reports Donor Envelopes, being sure to check the checkbox for "Skip donors with email addresses" on the window that comes up prompting for whether to send them to all donors or only donors with donations within a specified date range.

This topic was last edited on Feb 17, 2023