Original Article: http://www.idealware.org/articles/fgt_email_newsletter_tools.php
Online Mass Emailing Tools
One of the most common ways to send bulk emails is to use an online service set up for precisely such a function. Hosted email tools typically allow you to manage your list, create emails and view reports through a Web-based interface. Most will allow you to send formatted emails; some provide tools to let you easily format them. You can generally integrate them into your Web site so you can take subscriptions online, and the tools will automatically manage unsubscribe requests and delete email addresses that are no longer valid. Reports allow you to see useful details such as how many recipients opened a particular email, how many clicked on a link, and how many forwarded a message.
Nonprofit Specific Deals
There’s little difference between the typical needs of a nonprofit and those of a business when it comes to sending emails. However, three robust services provide special discountsfor nonprofits, making them a very attractive choice —if they’ll meet your needs.
VerticalResponse is a reliable, sophisticated and popular online service that allows 501(c)(3) nonprofits to send up to 10,000 emails per month for free. It’s strong in deliverability—ensuring your emails go into your subscribers’ inboxes rather than their Spam filters—segmentation and Web integration, and has a number of options that make it easier to integrate with constituent databases (especially Salesforce). However, the interface can be complex at times, and the built in graphic-designed templates aren’t as polished as some other tools. After the 10,000 free emails, it gets a bit expensive. If you’re sending more than 15,000 emails a month or so, compare prices to other options. VerticalResponse has been offering their free nonprofit program for about two years now, and appears quite committed to it.
EmailNow by Network for Good, powered by Emma
EmailNow is a very attractive choice if you send more than 15,000 emails per month. As of last year, they scrapped their old platform, and instead cut a deal with another service, Emma, to provide a reliable and sophisticated service at nonprofit rates. Emma is tailored to those who want to send good looking, formatted emails without knowledge of HTML coding, and provides great standard templates—or, they’ll design a custom one for you for $199. EmailNow’s feature set generally matches Vertical Response’s, with strong Web integration and segmentation. Network for Good also provides strong, nonprofit-friendly support. It's $29.95 per month for up to 20,000 emails, with a $49 setup fee. But it's only $2 for every 1,000 emails after your first 20,000 -- making it a great deal for those with big lists. The service is available to 501c3s, c4s, and c6s only.
MailChimp offers a wide range of features at competitive rates, and offers a significant discount for nonprofits. Their services are completely free if you store less than 500 subscribers and send less than 3000 emails per month. It's then $25 per month for nonprofits to store up to 2500 subscribers; they offer a number of tiers up through about $200 (with the nonprofit discount) to store up to 50,000 subscribers. Alternatively, you can simply pay by the email, at about $0.02 - $0.03 per email depending on volume. The interface is easy to use, support is responsive and they provide a friendly Web interface to modify a default HTML template, which has been tested with a large number of email clients. The service also offers an "Email Inspector" which lets you see how your email will look in more than 50 different email clients, and an API which you can use to send emails through MailChimp from other programs (for instance, Drupal offers a MailChimp module).
Other Online Options
Dozens, if not hundreds, of bulk emailing services cater to both businesses and nonprofits. If you’re not a tax-exempt nonprofit, or you have quite specific needs, here are some more services that our contributors recommended.
A commonly used tool in both the business and nonprofit worlds, ConstantContact provides solid templates, segmenting and reporting features. The pricing scheme is friendly to small lists, at $15 per month for under 500 subscribers, $30 per month for under 2,500, and so on, to $150 per month for up to 25,000 subscribers. However, several people mentioned trouble with Spam filters when using ConstantContact. Constant Contact recently improved their developer tools (http://developer.constantcontact.com/), which means that it's now possible to manage your list and send emails through other programs (for instance, Drupal offers a ConstantContact module).
CampaignMonitor is directed at those who have access to someone familiar with HTML for emails, and want to create their own template. They don't provide any template options that can be easily used without HTML skills, but offers good custom fields and reporting functionality as well as solid deliverability. At $5 per email campaign, plus $0.01 per email, the service is very affordable for small lists, but probably overpriced for large ones.
In addition to its well-known free service, Topica offers a solid paid option. The tool offers sophisticated Web site integration, lots of custom fields and powerful list-segmentation tools, as well as the standard newsletter template and report functions. It’s $50 per month for up to 5,000 subscribers (ask about an additional nonprofit discount), but goes up quickly from there—the next level is $250 per month for up to 25,000 subscribers.
WhatCounts offers premium broadcast emailing. It's worth considering if you have a large list and are serious about investing in your email communications—it starts at $600 per month for up to 50,000 emails. Emails are sent from an IP address dedicated to your organization, which eliminates the problems of being blacklisted for other people’s emails, and WhatCounts offers several different Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, to allow you to integrate your email list with other constituent databases.
At the premium end of the market, you will find that systems include eMarketing suites, other modules like events and surveys, pre-built integrations with leading CRM and Association Management and donor systems, and intensive consulting support. A couple options in this category include MagnetMail and BlueHornet.