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Send Email to Groups

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Send emails to campaign members.
  • Send emails from a list view.
  • Summarize the implications of laws governing mass email.

Send Email to Small Groups of Contacts

Sending an email to just one contact is great for major gifts fundraising, working with grant officers, and other situations where you have one or two points of contact, but what about situations where you need to send to a group?

Sometimes you need to send a message to the whole board, your volunteer fundraising committee, or every program participant who attends your Wednesday night job skills class. In those cases, you can use Salesforce campaigns and list views to send messages to small groups of contact or lead records.

What do we mean by small groups? Well, there’s a 5,000-email daily limit on group emails sent through Salesforce. Check the General Email Limits link in Resources for details. (There is no limit on the number of individual emails you send through the Activity panel we covered in the last unit.)

There are options for sending a larger volume of emails, which we discuss in the next unit. Let’s first review how to send to groups through campaigns and list views.

Send Email to Campaign Members

Campaigns are a planned set of communications that move people toward a specific goal, like asking supporters to donate, volunteer, or rally for your cause.

In Salesforce, you track and manage these efforts with the Campaign object. Campaign records collect campaign member records, which connect contacts and leads to a campaign.


If you don’t know much about campaigns, we suggest you complete the Campaign Management with Nonprofit Success Pack badge that is linked in Resources.

So, of course, it’s helpful to send an email to these campaign members and track their responses. Let’s do that now.

  1. Navigate to Campaigns.
  2. Select a campaign from the list view.
  3. Navigate to the Related tab if it isn’t the default view of the record.
  4. In the Campaign Members section, click Show More () and select Send List Email.
    Send List Email action
  5. Enter a Subject and compose a message in the Content section. You can use all of the same features we discussed in the last unit, like quick text, templates, and merge fields.
    A draft email that includes a merge field.
  6. Navigate to the Review tab to preview the message and check that the merge fields populate correctly.
  7. Click Send (or, optionally, you can choose Send Later).

The messages are sent! If a campaign member has a blank or incorrect email address, it only affects that individual. Everyone else gets the message. 

A history of campaign emails is included in the Activity panel on a contact record, just like an individual email—but you can’t immediately check if the email was opened. (You need to set up a report for that information, which we cover later in this unit.)

 A list email in the Activity timeline

Send Email from a List View

If the contacts you need to email aren’t in the same campaign, you can also send a group email from a list view of contacts or leads.

Here’s how.

  1. Navigate to the Contacts or Leads tab. In this example, navigate to Contacts.
  2. Select a list view, or create one for your needs. (Check the Resources section for details on creating a list view.)
  3. Select contacts using the checkboxes next to each.
  4. Click Send List Email in the list view’s quick actions. It might be under Show More ().
    Selected contacts in a list view with the Send List Email button
  5. Enter a Subject and compose a message in the Content section. You can use all of the same features we discussed in the last unit, like quick text, templates, and merge fields.
  6. Navigate to the Review tab to preview the message and check that the merge fields populate correctly.
  7. Click Send (or, optionally, you can choose Send Later).

These emails, too, are tracked in an individual contact or lead’s Activity panel.

Report on Group Email Opens

As we mentioned earlier, the message status of list emails isn’t included in the Activity timeline. 

Only the sender of a list email can retrieve status information, such as if a message bounced and when it was opened—and to do that, they need to create and run a report.

Let’s do that now.

  1. Navigate to Reports.
  2. Click New Report.
  3. Find and select HTML Email Status.
  4. Click Continue.
  5. Add filters and groups to organize the data, if necessary. We suggest grouping by Date Sent.
  6. Click Run.
  7. Click Save to add a title and description if you would like to save the report for later.

With this report, we have a list of every person in the group that received the email and data about their open rates, including the date it was first opened, last opened, and number of times it was opened.

An HTML Email Status Report

Using the HTML Status Report can help you with a couple of things. First, you can make sure everyone in the group receives an email. Second, if someone hasn’t opened a message, you can follow up with the individual privately.

Plus, you can use this report to troubleshoot your sends. For example, if someone is missing from the list, it’s likely that person has an incorrect email address and the message bounced, or they’ve opted-out of email. 

Manage Email Opt Outs

Speaking of email opt-outs, if a stakeholder doesn’t want to receive commercial or promotional emails from your organization, it’s important to track that information on their contact or lead record. 

Depending on the circumstances and the laws of your jurisdiction, event invitations, requests for donations, and newsletters may all be legally considered commercial email, even when sent from a nonprofit.

To opt someone out of email, find their contact or lead record and select the Email Opt Out field.

What happens next depends on whether you are sending an individual or a group email.

If you try to send an individual email to someone who’s opted out, you receive a warning message to remind you that your organization has agreed not to send this person a commercial email. The system allows you to continue, but Salesforce prompts you to agree that the message is not commercial.

The Email Opt Out field

If you include a person who’s opted out of email on a small group message, they won’t receive the email and you won’t receive a warning that they’re not included. Their opt-out status doesn’t impact the message delivery to other recipients in the group.

Consult with a legal expert to help your organization understand the relevant privacy and marketing laws in your region and how the law classifies commercial and noncommercial email given your circumstances. Salesforce can’t give legal advice to its customers, and this section isn’t meant to be taken as legal advice.

Now that you know the basics of sending individual and small group emails, there are a few more tools that can help you be even more efficient with your sends. Continue to the final unit to learn more. 


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