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Understanding How Blacklists Can Affect Your Nonprofit’s Email Marketing

BlackListAs a nonprofit organization, you likely use email as an inexpensive and effective method of keeping your clients and supporters up-to-date about what you’re doing. You can use an email campaign to educate about your cause or even to solicit donations and volunteers. Unfortunately, there are some hazards that come along with being reliant on this medium of communication. One danger is ending up on the “blacklist.”

When you send out an email, the recipient’s email server will take note of your IP address and compare it to those listed on various “blacklists.” If your IP address has been blacklisted, then your email will be rejected. This means that your potential client or supporter will never see your message. This can affect your bottom line, as well as your reputation.

There are various ways to end up on one or more of the multitude of blacklists out there, but the most common is to send “spam” (unsolicited, unwanted) email messages. The best way to avoid this, of course, is to be sure that you have your supporters’ permission to send them occasional updates. By granting you this permission, the recipient is “opting in” to your email campaign.

The procedure is not foolproof, however. In some cases, your IP address can be hacked, or you can download spy software that sends bogus messages that appear to be coming from you. It is also possible that a recipient will have forgotten he or she gave you permission and will report you to a blacklist. In both of these cases, having that opt-in list to show to the blacklisting organization will likely be helpful in getting your IP address removed.

Getting off of a blacklist is not necessarily an easy process, although it has been simplified in recent years. One of the first steps is discovering that you’ve been blacklisted at all. One indicator may be that you’re getting a lot of bounced back email messages. This isn’t always the case, though, so you may want to go online and use one of tools available to check your IP address.

Different blacklists have different policies for getting your address removed. Sometimes you need to show proof that your system was hacked. Other times, you may simply need to apologize and promise not to commit the offense again.

Other reasons you may end up on a blacklist include having a subject line that sounds “spammy.” Think of all the unwanted emails you’ve gotten and what their subject lines have in common, and then DON’T DO THAT. Keep in mind, too, that something like 60% of spam messages are sent through third-party email servers. Institute strict policies about what your employees can access with their computers, so they don’t inadvertently download malware that sets your server up to do someone else’s dirty work. In the long run, they’ll likely get off scott free, while you spend your valuable time getting off the blacklists.

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