In order to engage with your leads, you first need to set up your mail server. We've chosen to integrate with AWS (Amazon Web Services), because of their reliability and their pricing.

How much does the mail server cost?

  • Setting up an AWS mail server is free, and there are no fixed monthly costs.

  • Every month you can send 62,000 emails for free.

  • After that, it costs $0.10 for every 1,000 emails that you send.

So, if you have 50,000 donors and leads, and you send two newsletters per month (100,000 total emails), you'd get the first 62,000 emails for free, and the next 38,000 would cost $3.80.

Note that through Techsoup, registered non-profit organizations can receive a $2,000 AWS credit (at a cost of $175). That credit would be enough to send over 20,000,000 emails a year!

How to set up your AWS account

  1. Sign up for an AWS account with your business email address.

  2. Select "business account" and enter your business details.

  3. Enter your credit card, and then your mobile number.

  4. Under "support plan" select "Basic support - Free"

You should then receive an email from Amazon, confirming your AWS account is set-up.

Now, sign in as a "root user" to your new AWS account. This should bring you into the Management Console. On the top right corner of the page you'll see a US state (here we see "N. Virginia").

In the event that you see anything other than N. Virginia, please click on the State and change the selection to "US East (N. Virginia) us-east-1. If you already see N. Virginia, skip to the next step.

Next, on the left side of the page, under Identity Management, click "email addresses"

Now you're going to enter the email addresses from which you're sending emails. This could be a generic address like [email protected] or someone's email address. Note that when sending a newsletter, you can define the Sender Name and the Reply-to email address. When you're ready, click "Verify a New Email Address", and then enter the email that you want to verify.

Amazon will then send an email to this email address, with a link in the email that you should click on. Once you've done so, you should be taken to a screen that says:

If you want to send from multiple email addresses, you can perform the verification again, or you can verify an entire domain like (and so send from any email address of that domain), following the instructions that AWS provides.

Moving your account from Sandbox mode to Production mode

Since this is a new account, it's initially limited to 200 emails per day. In order to remove this restriction and activate this as a full account, follow these instructions:

  1. On the side panel, under "Email Sending" select "Sending Statistics"

  2. Click "Edit your account details"

3. This screen should pop-up:

  • For "Enable Production Access" - Select "Yes"

  • For "Mail type" - Select "Marketing"

  • For Website URL - Enter your organization's website

  • For Use case description, enter the following:

    I plan to use SES to communicate with donors and with supporters of our organization. Donors joined our mailing list by making donations to our organization, and opted in to receiving email communications. Others subscribed to our newsletters or signed our petitions.

    If an email bounces, we have technological systems in place to automatically remove that email address. Similarly, a subscriber can opt out from our communications at any time by clicking on the "unsubscribe" link in our emails, or by contacting us directly. If there are complaints, we will deal with them diligently and promptly.

  • Then, agree to the terms and click the Submit for Review button.

Sometimes, Amazon may send you an (almost instant) email stating that they are "unable to grant your request at this time because we do not have enough information about your use case". This is a bug on Amazon's part. Just reply to the email with the same answer (above) that you submitted through the web form.

Generally within a day or two, your production access will be granted, and you'll receive a quota of 50,000 messages per day, at a send rate of 14 messages per second (meaning that it will take 1 hour to send 50,000 emails). If you'd like to increase your daily quota and sending rate, follow these instructions:

Increasing your sending limits

To request an increase on your Amazon SES sending quotas, simply open the Service Quotas console. In the navigation pane, choose AWS services. Then search for "SES". Choose a quota that you wish to increase (either Sending Quota or Sending Rate), click "Request quota increase", enter the number that you wish to increase to, and then click "Request". For help, see our video below:

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