Where Are You @ with Email?

Posted on June 30, 2016

Church Email Addresses Protect Your Parish and Boost Communication

While new communication channels keep popping up through social media platforms, messaging apps, and the like, for most of us, email, the “old standby,” is still our primary communication tool. In fact, many of these other channels end up sending notifications to our email addresses! So when it comes to making sure that your church is equipped with the communication tools needed for ministry, a top-notch email system is pretty important.

Where does your parish stand when it comes to email? In our interactions with churches, we’ve seen that many allow staff to use personal email accounts for work-related communications instead of having email addresses set up at custom church domains. For example, the church secretary sends emails from sunnyday123@aol.com instead of from nancy@stmary-madison.org.

If your parish staff are using personal accounts instead of professional church-branded email addresses, you might be surprised to learn some of the disadvantages of relying on personal emails and benefits of setting up church email addresses at a custom domain.

Say No to Personal Emails

We all like what we’re familiar with. We know (or at least with think we know) how to navigate our personal email system. So why make everyone on staff learn a new email interface when they’re no doubt already using email in their personal life?

Personal email addresses are often unprofessional and cause confusion.

When a member gets an email from miami-beach-baby@sampledomain.com, he has no idea whom it’s from and will probably not open it. It may be from the church music director, but the member doesn’t know that before he’s already deleted the email. Now if that same member got an email from athomas@ctkparish.org, he would make the connection to the church and the music director and probably open the email.

Having staff email addresses at your custom church domain makes your parish and your staff recognizable and appear professional. You are trained, highly competent staff, after all, and so you should have email addresses that portray this!

Personal emails pose some risks for your church.

How are emails stored? If a member has an outstanding need (or complaint), and the interactions between member and staff took place via email, how do you follow up? How do you ensure when someone leaves their job that their church-related emails are redirected to the proper person? If staff use personal email accounts, the answer to all these question is you simply don’t know.

Advantages of Having Church Email Addresses

There may be a few headaches (and resistant staff members) when it comes to getting onboard with a new email system, but we think you’ll find that the benefits make it worthwhile! Here are just a few of the advantages:

  • Make yourself recognizable in the inbox — It’s important that the people your staff email recognize who they are and that they’re communicating on behalf of your church. This is much more possible when using professional emails at a custom domain.
  • Reduce SPAM issues — Email addresses from some domains used for personal accounts may be more likely to get caught in SPAM filters than the custom domain you set up.
  • Increase email vigilance — Staff members who are a bit too relaxed about checking their personal email accounts can be expected to be more vigilant with an email account used strictly for work.
  • Help staff with email questions — When everybody accesses their email using different applications or service provider URLs, it can be tough to support any issues they may have. Using a custom domain lets you narrow down all those separate platforms and standardize church email tools, making it much easier to help staff.
  • Stay connected after staff turnover — A church domain email is within your control to be forwarded, auto-replied, and closed when the time is right.
  • Benefit from email transparency — Keeping church emails within the church’s control will help you better serve members and maintain compliance with state laws for nonprofits, IRS regulations, and internal policies regarding serving your members, especially minors and vulnerable adults.
    Set up department aliases — When setting up emails at your custom domain, you can also set up aliases that will help those trying to get in touch with you. (e.g.: website@grace-church.org, youth@grace-church.org, etc.)

The Technical Stuff—It’s Not Too Hard!

Good news! It’s neither difficult nor expensive to set up email addresses at your custom church domain. If you already have a church website, you’ll want to use your existing domain for your email addresses too. (So if your website is “grace-church.org” your email addresses will be “username@grace-church.org”.) Using your website domain is a good idea because you already own it and it’s intuitive for those who are familiar with your website.

The first thing you should do is check with your webmaster and see if whoever hosts your website also offers email services (many do). If that’s not an option for your church, contact another email provider that will allow you to use your custom domain. For affordable options, check out Google Apps, Rackspace, and FastMail. There are other email providers who’ll let you use your custom domain, but checking out these three will get you on the right track!)

For these email services, you’ll typically pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee depending on the number of email addresses, data storage, and other bells and whistles you choose. Depending on what you’re looking for, you should be able to find what you need at an affordable price point.

So if you haven’t explored investing in professional email addresses for your parish staff, take a look at your options! We think you’ll find it helpful and worthwhile to have control over what your staff email addresses look like and get your whole team on the same email system.