Email Setup

The system can send automatic reminder emails.
I used to allow mass-emails for publicity to generate donations or advertise your event, but I intend to shut down this feature soon. Please use mail-chimp or something like that for that purpose.

Here is how we setup 'transactional' emails to come from the TogetherAuction server.

Unfortunately, I can't use my own email account to send mail on your behalf. Instead, I'll need you to setup/create a mailbox account with your own mail server - something like (or pick an existing one to send from). We'll be using it to send mail only. Most email systems only permit accounts from the same host (the to be marked as "from" that host - so it's OK to send email as "" when logged in to the "" email server, but I can't send that same mail from So that's the reason we have to go to all this effort.

You'll need to find the SMTP email configuration for your email provider - as if you were setting up a new person with Microsoft Outlook Express or some similar mail client to be a church employee. We need the following internal codes to be set: (this is who we authenticate to the mail server as - not necessarily same as mail.from below)
MAIL_PASSWORD=goesWithUserAbove (or maybe - something like that - this comes from your ISP)
MAIL_PORT=587 (the most popular port, but sometimes others are used)
MAIL_SENDERNAME=Auction (The part of the email that prefixes the real address - Auction in this example means it will say from: 'Auction ')
MAIL_SMTP_STARTTLS_ENABLE=true - some providers (gmail and office365) need this, some don't.
MAIL_SSL_ENABLE=true - depends on the port used, typically true. (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.

Also, gmail added a new setting you have to allow if that's your provider - it's called "Allow Less secure apps" - google for it and you'll see how to turn it on for your auction_agent account. It's found in the account settings on the Security tab, Account permissions (not available to accounts with 2-step verification enabled): Also, be sure to enable it on the same account you are using for the MAIL_USER, which may not be your default gmail user.

You may need to forward this to some technical person who administers email - I'd be happy to talk to them.

Once that is all setup, you'll be able to use the system to send out a test 'marketing' email to check that everything is working. Lookup your own member internal id and use that at the top on the 'send now' page. You can ignore all the other email recipient categories that will be going away soon:
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).
You can find your ID 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:;. This address is also shown after "Online at" near the top-right of each statement.

NEW: To help diagnose problems with email config, there is a new internal code which will appear whenever there is a problem with sending emails - it is called EMAIL_SEND_PROBLEM or EMAIL_SETUP_PROBLEM.

A very common problem is an expired password. If the system gets a response containing the phrase 'AUTH' (as in Authentication Failure), it will DISABLE FUTURE ATTEMPTS to send any emails to try to avoid your account getting locked out. That's usually helpful, but it means that even after you have fixed the MAIL_PASSWORD you also need to delete that EMAIL_SEND_PROBLEM setting, and it will start working again.

When picking a password, some experts suggest including punctuation and/or 'special characters'. Unfortunately, the system used to store config values is unable to store some characters without a special 'escape' prefix to them. So it's best to just avoid these characters in ANY internal code setting like MAIL_PASSWORD: