Send Email to Individual Constituents

Learning Objectives

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

  • Send emails to individuals via Nonprofit Success Pack.
  • See the email history of a contact in Salesforce.
  • Use templates and quick text to write email.
  • Send emails on behalf of someone else.

When the team at our fictional nonprofit, No More Homelessness (NMH), needs to reach out to constituents, they head directly to their email. It’s a familiar and straightforward way to contact anyone for any reason: to send an invitation, reach out to a client or donor, check in with a volunteer, or follow up when someone expresses interest in the organization. 

But while email might be fast and easy, it’s not any more transparent than a phone call or snail mail. With private email, there’s no history of a conversation outside of a personal inbox. No one can verify if a message has been sent, received, or replied to—except the person that sent it. Without access to everyone’s sent email, it’s easy to send duplicate messages, or too many or too few emails. No one wants that.

Especially not the NMH team. Every day, when team members log in to Salesforce, it's not uncommon for them to find that email comprises the majority of their daily tasks. What's more, before team members settle in to composing and sending messages, they want to know if anyone else at NMH has recently been in touch with these contacts. The last thing they want to do is overwhelm their constituents—donors, volunteers, board members, clients, even their fellow teammates—with too many emails or send a request that is out of alignment with another department's message. But what a chore! Having to talk, chat, or send a message to everyone on staff to get the full communication history on a constituent or client. Why can’t they just see that information in Salesforce? Well, they can. Let’s check in with NMH’s awesome Salesforce admin, Gorav, to learn how. 

Like Email, But Better

Anytime the staff at NMH have a question about Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), they check in with Gorav to see if they can make changes in NPSP to accommodate their needs. In the case of making private email more transparent and accessible to the entire team, Gorav is happy to share that yes, in fact, there is a solution, and (bonus!), like nearly everything in Salesforce, there’s more than one way to do it. They could integrate Outlook or Gmail with Salesforce, find a third-party app that manages the integration, or customize their existing Salesforce instance. 

After some discussion, the team decides on that last option: customize the technology to send messages directly from Salesforce. They already have what they need to make it work, and they can always revisit the more-involved alternatives later. 

For this to work, Gorav first needs to make sure that enhanced email is turned on within the NMH Salesforce settings (which is accessible only to admins). Enhanced email should be on by default (unless your team is using email-to-case features of Service Cloud), but it never hurts to check with your admin and confirm. 

Now that Gorav’s confirmed that enhanced email is on, the team can be sure that all staff will see the communication history with a constituent or client. 

It doesn’t matter who sends the message, everyone will be able to see the subject line, when it was sent, if it was received, and when it was opened. 

Great, well that was easy enough (at least Gorav makes it seem that way!). But wait, Gorav wants to be clear about a few things. This will only capture messages sent from Salesforce moving forward—no history or anything from private email. And although sending an email is standard procedure these days, there are some Salesforce-specific features that many standalone email services don’t have.

Salesforce Email Features

The email compose window appears in the activities component, which can be anywhere on the page, depending on how the awesome Salesforce admin at your organization set up the page layouts. 

The activity component on the No More Homelessness page layout for a contact record

The activity component should have an Email tab where you can compose messages and find the following features. If you’re missing any, talk to your admin. They can turn on and customize any of them. 

A map to the email features found within the page layout, including quick text, templates, merge fields, organization-wide email addresses, and preferred email addresses

Quick text (1)

Save and insert phrases or messages in emails, chats, events, tasks, and elsewhere. It’s like copy and paste without the copying. 

Email templates (2)

Create reusable message templates that can include file attachments and pull data from records. You can keep your templates private or share them with others. 

Merge fields (3)

Insert data into an email directly from a record without having to type it in yourself, eliminating human errors when composing and personalizing every email in a batch. For example, if you use the merge field Recipient Average Gift on an email with many recipients, each person will see their own average gift in the message.

Organization-wide email addresses (4)

Send messages from a generic address or from the public face of your organization. A common example is something like or or the email address of a communications manager.

Preferred email address (5)

For contacts who have more than one email address, allow the NPSP preferred email address to automatically populate the To field when composing a new message. 

Let’s see how the NMH team puts all of these options to good use. 

Send Email from a Contact Record

Michael Aviran, NMH's Communications Intern, and Aniyah Thompson, NMH's Development Director, are hard at work collaborating on a cross-functional initiative. The development and communications teams are working together to develop advocacy training workshops designed to give volunteers information and resources on becoming mission multipliers in the community. After completing the workshop, NMH asks volunteers to organize advocacy events about the homelessness crisis in the region and how NMH supports those affected. Both teams see the initiative as an opportunity to not only educate prospective constituents but also to compel those with the means to consider becoming an NMH donor. Let's follow along to see how each of them approaches sending an email to constituents.

On the communications and engagement side, Michael wants to send a private message to Charlie Gibbons, a long-time NMH supporter, major donor, and special event volunteer to share some personal encouragement. Well, not that personal. Michael already prepared a template for encouraging volunteers. He’s going to use that as the base for his message to Charlie and tweak it. Charlie recently attended the NMH advocacy training workshop. And, despite his demonstrated dedication, he needs a motivation boost to get started on organizing his advocacy event. He’s already getting the standard resource and support emails NMH sends out (automatically, thanks to the NMH engagement plans—see the resources section to find out more). 

On the development side, Aniyah has identified a few donor prospects through the volunteer-organized advocacy events that have already taken place. She wants to follow up with them, inviting them to NMH’s next fundraising event—a dinner featuring a guest lecturer and expert on economic inequality and its impact on society. Like Michael, Aniyah has created a template for the event announcement and invitation but wants to personalize it. 

Here’s how Aniyah and Michael connect with these constituents: 

1. Log in to Salesforce.

2. Enter a contact’s name in the global search and select their contact record. Michael’s looking for Charlie Gibbons. And, in Aniyah’s case, her newly identified donor prospects information was entered in after they attended the advocacy events.

3. In the activities component, click Email.

4. Click Compose.

The Email tab and Compose button on the activity component

5. Write the message manually or click the template icon to create or insert a template. Optional: Add recipients, connect the message to more object records, attach files, change the message font styles, and click the merge icon to insert record fields directly into the message using the merge icon. If there are any merge fields in your message, do not touch the curly brackets { } or anything in between them. That information populates automatically from the contact record.

6. Click Send.

After clicking send, the message automatically appears in the Activity timeline on each constituents' record. Michael and Aniyah (and anyone on staff) can see the subject lines, when staff sent the messages if they bounced, and when recipients opened them. If they click the subject line, they can see the entire email.

It looks like Charlie got it right away. Looking at the Activity timeline, Michael sees that Charlie has already opened the email. 

Information about a sent email, like the date and subject line, appears in the activity timeline.

Quick Text for Fast Follow-ups

Well, this is good news: Both Michael and Aniyah's emails seem to have done the trick! A week after Michael sent his encouraging message, Charlie scheduled his very first community group meeting, and several people RSVP’d yes to the event! And all but one of Aniyah's donor prospects have accepted her fundraising event invitation. Both Aniyah and Michael want to send quick follow-up messages—Michael delivering a quick congrats and Aniyah expressing her gratitude and excitement for these new prospects to attend their first NMH fundraising event. 

Michael and Aniyah open up the email compose window, but rather than typing directly into the window or adding a template, they click the quick text icon. Because it’s the first time each of them is entering quick text, they can click Create Quick Text

Compose quick text icon and button

Completing and saving the form, Michael and Aniyah navigate back to the contact record and the email compose window, click the quick text icon again, and each select the text they have created to insert it into the message.

Quick text icon and menu selection to insert messages

Now both Michael and Aniyah have these messages ready to reuse for any volunteer when they hit a milestone or for new donor prospects attending their first NMH fundraising event. And, to add existing quick text, Michael and Aniyah can click the quick text icon, select a message from the list, add a personal flourish, click send, and let the Internet do the rest. 

Send Email as Someone Else

Both Cristina Jasic, the Communications & Advocacy Director at NMH (and Michael’s manager), and Anthony Hall, NMH’s program manager, have been testing out these email features and are impressed. This is going to make it so much easier for staff to eliminate redundant messaging and over-communication. Fewer, more-precise emails will undoubtedly make their constituents happier, too. 

This is great, but didn’t Gorav also set up a way to send a message as someone else? Cristina wants to send a congratulatory message to an important partner on a recent success, and Anthony wants to send a message commending and encouraging a client on their recent graduation from NMH’s transitional housing program. It might have a greater impact if both of these messages come from the Executive Director, Kim Friedman. But Kim is super busy, so is there some way Cristina and Anthony can take care of it? 

Why, yes, there is! With Kim’s permission, Gorav sets up her email address as an organization-wide address. This allows other people to send messages as Kim—but only if they have the right permissions. (You wouldn’t want everybody to send messages as the ED!) Gorav restricted access to people with specific profile permissions, which means only Cristina and Michael have the permissions. 

To send a message as Kim, they select her address from the dropdown menu in the From field when composing a message. 

Dropdown option to select preferred email address to send as someone else

Sending messages from Salesforce is convenient, and the transparency it offers has saved everyone a lot of time. But Michael, Aniyah, and other members of the NMH team often need to send messages to small groups of people, not individual messages. Can Salesforce handle that? It sure can. 

Move on to the next unit to see how to send messages to small groups directly from NPSP.


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