The system can send automatic Reminder Emails
as well as mass-emails for publicity to generate donations or advertise your event. This requires some setup.
Unfortunately, I can't use my TogetherAuction email server to send mail on your behalf. Instead, I'll need you to setup/create a mailbox account with your own mail server - something like firstname.lastname@example.org. (or pick an existing one to send from). We'll be using it to send mail only. I've found most email systems only permit accounts from the same host to be marked as "from" that host - it does allow for some minor variation such as anyOtherName@samehostbut it's considered 'forgery' to set the sender as being from another host as I've been trying to do. So that means you'll need to share with me the email configuration for that new account - as if you were setting up a new person with Microsoft Outlook Express or some similar mail client to be a church employee. I need the following items:
email@example.com'' (this is who we authenticate to the mail server as - not necessarily same as mail.from below)
mail.host=''mail.yourhost.org'' (or maybe smtp.yourhost.org - something like that - this comes from your ISP)
mail.port=''587'' (just a guess)
mail.smtp.auth=''true'' (whatever your ISP says to use goes here or we can try it each way)
mail.senderName=''Auction'' (The part of the email that prefixes the real address - Auction in this example: ''Auction
firstname.lastname@example.org'' (aka reply-to address)
That last one is especially important so when folks reply, that's who the mail will go to - we use a mailing list for that so that we all see such replies, usually asking for some kind of help from auction team.
Finally, one thing we just learned recently is that many email systems require their passwords to contain 'special' characters. But, our system doesn't handle certain characters properly - these include ! # = : and possibly some others. * and @ are ok to use though, so I suggest using one of those instead.
Once that is setup, you'll be able to use the system to send out 'marketing' emails to ask for more donations or let people know about the catalog deadlines, or whatever you'd like.
I'd love to be able to just setup one gmail account for the system to use - technically it's possible, but it's considered 'email forgery' and would just get ignored as spam if we did that, so we need to be legit and use a real account on your own system if we want the emails to get thru reliably and the reply feature to work.
So we just need some kind of email help from yourhost.org - the simplest way I can explain is to pretend a new church employee wants to be ''email@example.com'' - if we set that account up, it should work. Then, it's just a matter of how to configure an email client to read and send mail as auction_agent. That's the port and smtp host stuff. So the together auction software acts like an email client program (like outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird). You may need to forward this to some technical person who administers yourhost.org email - I'd be happy to talk to them.
Also, some notes in posts about IX Hosting have lead me to believe there is an option in your control panel called something like "Mail Info" that might be useful to know - especially whether you have the "basic" / "pro" / or "business class" of service which might impact your emails per day limits. (It would be nice not to have to break up your emails into groups of 25). I just added a throttle feature to slow it down to 10 per second for you automatically.
Also, I'm sure we'll get this figured out, but I wanted to point out that newsletter email sent using an email-list isn't quite what we are doing here - in our case it's different because the email contents are customized per individual (each person gets Dear %name% and their own statement link) so we can't use a mail list in that case.
Until you've been thru at least one auction, you'll have to un-check the box checked by default which says
Limit to members with current purchases or current donations (This year's participants only)
The reason I put this in was after we got several complaints from long-ago one-time participants who hadn't been to the auction in several years objecting to a 'thanks for coming' email I sent out. So this is meant to protect you from that mistake. You still have to be pretty careful wording any communication intended for such a broad audience.
Update: I've added these other useful email recipient categories:
Limit to members with some current or past activity (Skip non-participants)
Limit to members with past donations but no current auction donations (Potential repeat donors)
Limit to event donors with sales added following the auction (May need a new statement to show recently added guests)
As you check these boxes, it will update the number of recipients that match near the send button. You also get a nice progress bar so you can watch them get sent out. Finally, there is a batch feature for those who might be using a system that limits the amount of emails you can send at one time. It's zero-based, so the first email is zero. If you want a batch size of 100 and you have 250 to send, you would use 0 to start the first batch, then 100, then 200, leaving batch size at 100 each time. Pretty straightforward.
You can (and definitely should) send yourself a test email first before you hit the entire list by entering in the first memberId field the internal member ID of a single test member (such as yourself). Mine is #1 because I entered myself first before importing your database :) You can find yours by opening your statement page, then look at the address bar - your internal ID is the typically 2 or 3 digit number following the /id in the statement address, for example xxx if the address is: http://togetherauction.com/.../statement/id/xxxotherstuffMightFollow;. This address is also shown after "Online at" near the top-right of each statement.
I've set you up with a copy of our Thank You letter that you might want to use as a starting point.
Notice it's got
.... and then ...around each paragraph. Follow that convention and you should be fine.
You can send it to yourself to see what it will look like.
I put some nicer help text on the email sending page and changed the defaults to limit it to one email so you can't as easily accidentally send something out to everyone before you are ready. Also, I suggest you copy your email text into a full-size word processor to edit and spell-check, and then back when you are done.
Also, may I suggest you include a link to the auction website on your own main website and in each email you send out.
Folks looking at their statement online will find it anyway, (so you'll want to edit those notices before you send out the links I think) but you might as well take some credit for it with some introduction, right?
You can follow our lead by looking at our main church website's auction info page here: http://firstuucolumbus.org/our-community/auction