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How does your club manage your mailing list?


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I'm researching a problem that I'm sure all clubs and non-profits have: Looking for a membership management tool that is low cost (or free) to manage the club mailing list, and our annual show attendee list.


Our club has two distinct, and slightly different needs:


1. Manage the membership list for sending our newsletters and other emails to the dues-paying members of the club.

2. Collect and build a "customer list" of vendor contacts and attendees for our annual show.


Currently we have a solution for #1, but not for #2. We don't want a combined list, as we don't want to send internal club business emails to our "customer" list.

Right now, all we have is a collection of emails the club officers have collected over the past few years, but no central repository that any of us can access.

Yes, we could just build out a spreadsheet and keep them there, but that puts the burden on one person to collect and manage the list.


I have googled the topic, and found that there are a variety of online services that offer email management for non-profit organizations. Many offer free service for a list up to X members, with a sliding cost above that. But those solutions seem to be oriented more as a membership tool than a customer tool. So I figured that before I go and try to our half a dozen free or lost cost solutions, I'd ask here....


I'm sure this a problem other clubs must have already solved.....?

Edited by rcboater
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For #1 something like Mailchimp is good.. for most clubs they won't hit the # of email addresses or # of emails limit.


For #2, I'm not sure as you probably want to store more information than just name and email address. I would look at some of the church membership management packages. I've not found many CRM (Customer Relationship Management) packages that work for small, non-profit organizations. I found a list at http://blog.capterra.com/free-and-open-source-crm/ but I've not looked into most of these.


I've looked at CiviCRM and SugarCRM for IPMS/USA but these are pretty complicated systems and probably would be too much for a club.



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I just use a simple Excel spreadsheet for that info.


For the club mailing list, I have everyone in my e-mail address book then created a group list so to contact everyone in the club I hit only 1 address instead of everyone separately.


For the vendor list, again I use a simple Excel spreadsheet with all of the pertanent info.


PM me if you want a sample of the vendor listing.



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For #1, we use an Excel spreadsheet. There are some formulas in the background that create a long text string of everyone's email address that can be cut-and-pasted into an email. I find this easier than managing a mailing list for a particular piece of software that the next secretary may not use.


I can't speak for #2 since that is handled by someone else.


However, we also have a #3, which is 'members plus other people in the region that we want to advertise our show to.' This is handled using Constant Contact. I can't provide an opinion on it since I don't manage that list.


We also have a Yahoo Groups list, which is free and pretty easy to manage, but everyone seems to have forgotten about it and no one knows who the administrator is. Keep good records!



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One reason why I would not use a spreadsheet to track customers and such is that there is no simple, reliable method to track changes to the customer information. i.e. what was their old email address or physical address. Yes, you could use the track changes feature in Excel, but it does not always work and I don't think it can be used to assess changes across the entire dataset - how many customers have moved, where have they moved, etc.


Having a system that keeps track of revisions via a simple database setup also provides a history of the organization... which can be useful when the membership wants to know certain information....



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If you have a Mac, the Address Book software (which comes with every Apple computer) will let you create Groups of related email addresses. Then, using the Mac's Mail program (which comes with every Apple computer), you can easily send a message to every address in a Group with a couple of mouse clicks. This is how I managed email when I was President of IPMS-North Central Texas. I had one Group of addresses of club members, another Group with addresses of vendors. Addresses can be exported to Excel if necessary using a free application called "AddressBook2CSV Exporter."


There is probably an equivalent way to do this on a Windoze PeeCee.

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Great input so far.... some comments:


- I looked at Constant Contact, but they seem expensive at $20 a month. Is there a less expensive non-profit option they don't really advertise?


- I can build out a list in my email, but then it is tied to my address and my computer, and is hard for others in the club to use. My last neighborhood had a list using that method-- we had a recurring problem where people would use the list by hitting "reply to all", but from an old message, that didn't have all the latest updates. Most people would get most of the news, but no one got all....


- I've looked at MailChimp-- I was hoping some people would weigh in with their experience........


Thanks for the responses so far!

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  • 2 years later...

Re-visiting this topic to see if anyone has more recent experiences to share.

My RC boat club is using the mailing list service that is included as part of the package provided by our ISP.  The webmaster (me) created a list of members and a club membership email address.  It is set to only allow emails from members.  Any club member can send an email to members@clubname.org, and it is automatically forwarded to all members of the list. 

In theory this is great, but in practice it is unreliable at times.  The problem is that the low cost web hosting providers have thousands of customers, including the occasional spammers.   This can cause the one or more of the big ISPs to block all mail coming from the hosters’ Email servers, so for example sometimes all our members with @comcast.net emails suddenly aren’t getting club emails.  It typically clears in a couple of days, but is still annoying....

With the above experience in mind, I am reluctant to move our IPMS club’s larger list  to a solution like that, so we are still using the “one officer keeps a master list- so the other club officers send him their messages to be forwarded to all” approach.  This isn’t very efficient, especially when the list keeper is on vacation...

So I’m still looking for a better solution.

Is anyone using the file share options available on Google Drive, for example?   






Edited by rcboater
Fixed typos, Improved clarity
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