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What tools do you use to send out your email newsletter?

What tools do you use to send out your email newsletter?

  • Does your nonprofit send out an email newsletter? How long have you been sending it out, and how do you think it has affected your organization? How frequently do you send it out, and how much time do you devote to it? Have there been any challenges in creating or producing it? What would you tell other nonprofits who were about to start their own newsletter?

    For those interested in learning more about the art of the nonprofit newsletter, see TechSoup's article What Should Go in Your Newsletter. Share your thoughts and questions here.

    Idealware will also be hosting an online seminar on this very topic on November 1 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
    senior editor, TechSoup
  • We have been quite pleased by our use of IntelliContact to maintain our bulk email lists. They have a very strict privacy and no spam policy that caught our attention. We wanted to avoid any risk of having our members' email addresses (and our own) being harvested for spam. And we wanted a service that avoided any cumbersome sign up process for our members.

    Their rates are reasonable and tiered depending on the number of emails sent per month and they offer a discounted, nonprofit rate. Their service is exceptional and personal. (We receive no benefit in promoting them to the TechSoup community! : )

    Here's the web link
  • We have been quite pleased by our use of IntelliContact to maintain our bulk email lists

    A testimonial from their webpage: "I like the ease of use. I create the newsletter in FrontPage and transfer the code, and I am all set to go."

    One word about HMTL newsletters: YUCK!
  • I have been using WorldCast from Fairlogic It is free for non-profits, maintains the mailing list, can import mailing lists, or html newsletters or can be used to create an html. I can send out 1000 individual emails in a few minutes. Has a few minor glitchs, but it is FREE.
  • We use our own custom PHP solution that makes it real easy to manage our subscribers and various email list templates. Visitors can sign up or unsubscribe right from our website. Best of all, it's all free!
  • > One word about HMTL newsletters: YUCK!

    Yep, could not agree more... and another few words about HTML newsletters: If you intend to fund-raise via a newsletter, don't ever use HTML - most large corporates and other potential business donors/sponsors block HTML newsletters at their mail gateways - chances are your HTML newsletter will never reach your target audience.

    Plain-text is best!

    Cheers, Don
  • > One word about HMTL newsletters: YUCK!

    As a newsletter editor, I was a hold out for plaintext. BUT when I was finally talked into switching over to using an html format, the open and response rates increased significantly. There is just more interest in the newsletter now from readers. We primarily are mailing to non-profit organizations, not large corporations, so that may affect things.

    I started by using PHP and did not like it. It was not intuitive for me at all and there was no tech support. I had no luck at the forums getting info.

    It had been recommended by someone who had a lot of computer savvy, so for someone with a strong background in computer tech, that might be great. I've known people who swear by php and it is free.

    I use Constant Contact and really like it. I've found it to be a very intuitive interface, with short learning curve, good tech support, and easy to read stats.

    Best wishes,

    Sasha Daucus
    Volunteer TechSoup Moderator

  • I have been very pleased with for both form processing and integrated email campaign management.
    -------------------------- Paul Hebblethwaite --------------------------
  • I send out a newsletter about twice a month to about a thousand readers.

    I create my newsletter in Word. Word is very flexible, I can easily format the newsletter, easily add graphics and hyperlinks. The creative process of content is 95% of the work. The overhead of using Word itself is negligible, although sometimes I adjust column widths if the graphics are differently sized.

    My mailing list is our Access Membership database. I've used on-line list management firms before, and it was always a chore to keep the in-house membership list current with the on-line list. This way, there is only one list.

    We have three relevent fields in the database - DONOTCONTACT, for people who have requested to be not contacted, NO_EMAIL for people who have only requested that we not email them, and BAD_EMAIL for people whose email address is wrong.

    The query we use as the basis of our MailMerge excludes address with any of those fields checked.

    I then use the MailMerge feature of Word to send out the emails. It takes about and hour and a half to send out 1000 emails.

    There are usually five to fifteen replies in each mailing. Some of them are Earthlink's spam filter, that have to be managed personally. The rest are replies from serviers. I open the Access database and check those users. I have a form that opens automatically, and makes it easy to check the appropriate box.

    When someone wants to subscribe, I just add them to my Membership database.

    It's very easy, and takes much less time than requesting and downloading the reports from third-party list managers.

    I don't have to worry about a third-party list manager getting bought out, and having MY database as part of their assets to boost their sales price, and I know that my subscribers' information is both current and protected.
  • We send a personalized monthly newsletter to our members, plus periodic updates about password changes, training classes, etc. Our list contains about 1000 email addresses.

    I've been trying out Groundspring as an alternative to using Outlook/Word mail merge. Although I love the reports, I have been unimpressed with their tech support. I realize they do not support HTML, but even when trying to get help with a very simple plain text mailing, the "tech support" person was unable to understand my question, let alone provide a solution.

    Sigh... Maybe we'll try Intellicontact or one of the others mentioned here next. Any other suggestions/referrals are more than welcome!

  • OK, so I am going to pile on to this topic, b/c it's one that has been asked in this forum over the years. Which tool is totally free to nonprofits, easy to use and administer and doesn't require a heavy-duty system to run? Any recommendations?

    Susan Tenby, Parernships, Online Community and Social Media Director, Caravan Studios, a division of

  • We've had pretty good luck with groundspring, although the actual work to put together the email works better if we create the emails with Dreamweaver first. Sadly, means that I'm the only person with HTML experience and therefore the only one who puts together our emails.

    Ideally, it would be great to have a program that more staff could use and that didn't require such heavy formatting. I know it seems that some folks prefer plain text emails, but how many of us really read those?

    -Adam Tenner
    Executive Director
    Metro TeenAIDS
  • Adam,

    And I thought I was the only Executive Director that did the HTML too. Its quite a challenge. Like me, you probably do the web site too. IT expertise is expensive, so small non-profits have to wing it.

    We use Groundspring and have found it satisfactory and the price is right. Most of the alternatives are way too expensive.

    Groundspring has the advantage of maintaining an opt-out list so we never inadvertently send that group another email.

    Bill Newton
    Executive Director
    FL Consumer Action Network
  • We use Groundspring too, but only because it's cheap. It's quite inflexible, and very difficult to handle unsubscribes because the constituent ID is not able to be loaded in the background, so when an email bounces, we have to manually look it up in our database.
  • We use GraphicMail to send out a quarterly newsletter, and while it's free up to 10,000 sends, I find the editor VERY clunky, especially when trying to give it the look & feel of our website!