Emailing Church Members

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Hello. My first post :-) We have quite a problem getting emails out to all of our congregants who have addresses. We use Outlook and when we send out a message to a lot of people at once (around 160), the majority of the time (not every time) we hear from people that they never received the message. We've tried dividing the list into two distribution lists, but still have the same problem. Anyone have an idea of another way to send out messages so that EVERYONE gets them? 

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Change from outlook to something else

Participant

The problem is likely on the receiving end and not what app you're using to send—but what you use to send is going to be part of the solution. Internet Service Providers (ISP) or your member's own email clients will block what they interpret as spam. You can educate your users to approve (or whitelist) the email coming from your email address or you could use a more trustworthy address from which to send. Email services like Mailchimp work hard to maintain good relationships with ISPs so email sent from their servers get through. You'll also want to craft your subject lines with care so your members know what's coming their way is legitimate and not something they should mark as spam. As well, if  your list is smaller than 2,000, Mailchimp services are free. 

Participant

Short Answer:  Try a bulk email merge which uses your list of recipients, your email in Microsoft Word, the Mailings (email merge) feature in Microsoft Word, and Outlook to send messages *one-at-a-time*.  Here's a link with some information to get you started.  https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Use-mail-merge-to-send-bulk-ema...

However, I like elements of responses from Jim (12/22/2017) and Dean (12/26/2017) both.  Here's something I am going to try in the New Year.

I have the same goal as you,

0.  to get out email reliably to all my congregants. 

In addition, i have a couple of goals which you may or may not agree with so bear with me for a second.

1.  Any congregant should be able to contact all other congregants via "the email list" without having to go through the office.

2.  Congregants should be able to add or remove themselves from the "the email list"

Our church was using a gmail account ("not using Outlook") that Jim suggests with an address book and putting a bunch of email addresses on the "To:" or "CC:" line, but I think that is falling out of favor.  That solution wasn't guaranteed to reach everyone, and I don't know when or how it started, but I think over time the whitelisting (that Dean mentioned) was happening.

What I am trying in 2018 is setting up the church as a G-Suite (Google) and setting up a mailing list of congregants as a Google Group.  The benefit is that I think we can get to #1 and #2 goals above by having a Private Group where past messages are archived.  Feel free to contact me if you want updates.

We use gmail to send messages.  Having about 125 addresses, we first had problems with hotmail accounts, then all of a sudden gmail sent the messages back generally because we tried and send too many emails at once.  Now we use the google distribution service which after some tweaking works pretty well.  Members first have to accept the invitation to join the distribution list, then a message is moderated, that is checked for appropriateness before approving it to be sent.  Where members have trouble joining, you can force the approval.  A google email address is only needed for the manager who maintains and operates the system. A nice feature is that the person who originates the email is the one who receives the replies, not the manager who approves the message.

We find that asking members to do various things to be sure emails are accepted does not work very well.  Social media is being used almost more than email and so things need to be as simple as possible. We have a policy that emails for activities and matters pertaining to members are accepted, but matters from third parties are denied. We have Sunday bulletins for such information. I guess each church would decide what type of messages to accept or not.

I use MailChimp to send out information to our church friends, as well as Outlook for those folks who aren't interested in opting in to MailChimp.  MailChimp is free on a basic level, and we have found it useful. It allows for some creativity in addition to plain text message.