Question: How does your org. send email newsletters?


I'm looking for a more professional way for my organization to send out emails. Currently when we send out mass emails, we send them from our individual addresses and put our members' emails in the 'BCC' (or even the 'To') field. Once I used an Outlook plugin called "send personally," which sends individual emails to everyone in the "To" field.

Comment from Ben Sheldon on July 6, 2007 - 4:52pm

At the VISTA Project we use a Mailman newsletter list. It's the standard... which doesn't necessarily mean it's that powerful or pretty, but it has basic features like individual emails and configurable From and Reply-To. It's also nice because we can set up a form on the website where people can automatically sign up. It came with our commercial hosting service.

It is important though how you manage your mailing list. Depending on the services your nonprofit offers, it may fall under the CAN-SPAM Act. Here is a decent article on determining if the CAN-SPAM Act applies to you.

Comment from Josh King on July 9, 2007 - 12:17pm

I definitely vote for Mailman. At my organization we use it to manage hundreds of email lists, and there's nothing more powerful and featureful around (the only competitive mailing list package I've come across is Sympa, which is needlessly cumbersome and complex). Ideally, you would have an MTA like postfix setup on your mail server to run email to Mailman. I'm by no means as expert as I could be on email systems, but let me know if there's any advice I could offer. If hosting your own solution isn't an option, I don't know enough about the commercial or web-based solutions to offer an opinion.

Background Checks


Does anyoneknow how one goes about doing a background check?

We had a guy come in to volunteer a while ago, and he seemed okay. but until that point we hadn't had anyone come with us that the MoLLIE supervisor didn't know. Everyone had already worked with MoLLIE before. And for some reason, Jeanne and I thought the same thing at the same time after he left, 'what do we really now about this guy?'

It was surprising to me that in 5 years, the idea of doing background checks on people had not occured to those running a program that works regularly with children. That's like a no brainer, right? There's laws about this sort of thing, right? Well, from now on we are going to do checks on employees and volunteers, we just have to figure out how.

Comment from Andrea Collopy on October 17, 2006 - 4:27pm

Generally people have to go to a "background check company" and get fingerprinted. The fingerprinting aspect is crucial to find out if the person has any recorded criminal offenses, especially if it involves children. Simply looking someone up online does not tell you much. Check with local organizations, especially those that work with youth (maybe the YMCA?), and see who they use to do background checks. Either let them know who you are or pretend to be a volunteer and find out where you would have to go to get a background check. Hope this helps a little!

Comment from Corey Funderburk on October 17, 2006 - 5:32pm

I ran into the same sort of questions as we are helping with a mentoring program here. The volunteers are doing some work with the YMCA who requires them to be fingerprinted (they call it "livescan") and also receive a TB test. I guess for the fingerprinting you would need to find a local place in your area, the Y here does it on their own I believe. I did some research for the TB tests and found out that the county does offer free and/or low costs TB screenings, so your city might as well. As far as a real "background" check, such as criminal history and what-not, I believe that the state or city website has a lot of that information or else they give information to websites like SafetyNet and Meagan's Law. Hope that helps at least a little!

Comment from Laura Hanley on October 17, 2006 - 5:41pm


 I'm actually in the process of going through the whole background check process for the YMCA (for the same program that Corey mentioned in her comment).  I haven't actually physically gone in yet, so I can't tell you exactly how it's done, but my next step is to go in for  "Live Scan Service," which will include fingerprinting.  The Y here uses Identix Identification Services to conduct their background checks.  You may want to check out their website to see what sort of information they have there, although I can't make any promises as to how useful it may be as I haven't visited it myself.  Their website is  Good luck and hope it helps!

Comment from Richard T. Anderson on October 18, 2006 - 8:40am

Thanks all for your helpful comments. I hope I can be so helpful in the future.



Comment from Laura Mieczkowski on October 18, 2006 - 2:09pm

I just went throught the same process. Go to the DCFS website for the state you are working in and they will tell you what you need, as well as give suggestions of places you can try. I've also found other organizations that work with children in your area, with whom your NPO might be friendly with generally give good advice.

Good luck,