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DMARC: The From Address on your Powermail just got more important

Does your organization ever send PowerMail using a From address at one of the major email providers, like Yahoo! or AOL? You might have done this because you wanted your email to appear to come from your Board president, or perhaps you just always use your Yahoo! address because your organization doesn’t provide a branded email address for staff.

Unfortunately, thedatabank recently learned of a change in the way some of the major email providers are trying to protect their users from fake, spammy or malicious emails arriving in their inboxes. This new methodology is called DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance).  You can get more technical information about DMARC at its official website: dmarc.org.

 

What is DMARC?

DMARC is a new way that mass market email providers (like AOL and Gmail) can ensure that when you send a message, you're not "spoofing" their domain name, i.e., that your message from a Yahoo email address is really being sent from within Yahoo's email program. In a technical sense, when thedatabank sends your message, we ALWAYS spoof the domain name in order to make it appear that the message came from your email service, rather than thedatabank. This is a common practice for all bulk email senders because regardless of the email address in the From line, you’re sending your email through our email servers.

 

So, what does this mean to my organization?

Currently, if you send an email via PowerMail and enter a yahoo.com or aol.com address on the From line, your message may not be delivered. It certainly won't be delivered to other Yahoo or AOL addresses, but it will also be rejected at other ISPs that check DMARC. For instance, if your PowerMail is from jane@yahoo.com and is sent to john@gmail.com, John will not receive the message, because Gmail checks DMARC, DMARC says the message didn't really come from Yahoo, and Yahoo's DMARC instructions say not to accept the email. This also means that those people will be marked with a Bounce in your databank -- the individual email providers determine whether the person gets a Hard or Soft Bounce. A Hard Bounce means the person’s email address will immediately be marked “Bad”. We know that Gmail and Comcast will soon be doing this and assume other large internet service providers will start doing this too.

 

What can I do to make sure my emails get through?

You should ALWAYS send email from your Databank account using a domain name that you own (e.g. ournonprofitsname.org). If you’re already doing this, you’re set -- there is nothing more you need to do. Any email sent through your databank with a From Address of a major email provider, like yahoo.com, etc. is likely to cause problems. If you do not have an email address associated with your domain name, you should work with your web hosting company to get at least one email address set up.

It is still okay to reference any email address within your communications -- you can still tell people to RSVP to or email you back at a Gmail or Yahoo email address. You just should stop using those addresses in the From line of your databank originating emails.

If your organization wants to take email deliverability one step further, consider working with your internet or web provider (whoever is hosting your domain name) to add a Sender Policy Framework record to your domain information. (More information on SPF can be found at: http://www.openspf.org/.) If you set up SPF on your domain record (or if you already have an SPF record setup), plan to include thedatabank’s server information in that record. For information on what to include, send us a Support Request!

thedatabank will continue to monitor this new technology but, for now, it seems that the best line of defense is to only send messages from a domain you own. Please send us a Support Request if you have any questions about DMARC and how it impacts your ability to get email to your members!

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