Newsletter Subscription Lists - Amy's Opinion

Should You Include All of Your Contacts on Your Newsletter Distribution Lists? Amy's Opinion.....

There is a law in the US that regulates email called the Can-Spam.  You can read all about this on a number of different sites across the internet.  If you have any questions concerning the law, my attorneys would advise me to tell you to consult your attorneys!  Here is what the FCC says...

"The CAN-SPAM Act defines commercial messages as those that primarily advertise or promote a commercial product or service. The FCC’s ban does not cover “transactional or relationship” messages -- that is, notices to facilitate a transaction you have already agreed to -- for example, messages that provide information about your existing account or warranty information about a product you’ve purchased. The FCC’s ban also does not cover non-commercial messages, such as messages about candidates for public office..."

Relationship Emails....

". those that pertain to subscription, membership, loan, account or other kinds of ongoing relationships;"

Parent Engagement

Parent organizations do many things. Plan programs and events. Recruit and schedule volunteers. Sell spirit wear, uniforms, school supplies, and much more. All of these are important. But your biggest value to your parents is to help parents be engaged. Boosting parent engagement leads to parent involvement which many studies have proven is the key factor to driving student success.  Parent engagement is not the same as parent volunteers.  Parent engagement happens when parents are involved with the education of their students. Improving parent engagement starts with communication. 

Parents need to know about:

  • events at schools
  • upcoming registration information
  • programs for student or parents
  • how to get involved
  • how to support their children and parent organization

A parent organization's number job and goal should be to provide communication that helps drive parent engagement. This is accomplished through your all of your media channels and one of them is your newsletter.

Parents Are Voluntarily Signing Up

Parents do not need to give you a second email for their spouse.  And they are not required to sign up with your parent organization for their kids to go to school.  So, their account creation and information provided is voluntary. I think you have a good case that you can include all of them in your email communication without having to get their permission.  BUT, you do need to provide a way for them to opt-out. So as long as your email communication that is publicity related (versus transactional or urgent messages) includes the option for them to quit receiving the email, in my opinion you do not need a separate form asking for their permission to send them a newsletter.

In my opinion, the parents have chosen to sign-up with your PTA or PTO or Booster Club to receive information and you are providing information related to the education of their children.  Emails from your parent organization to parents who signed up to be members or contact can receive emails regarding their membership or subscription.  You are not promoting a commercial product or service.  I do not have any concerns about you sending out emails without including an extra step. I do think it is important to include the following:

Best Practice Guidelines

  • Include a way to opt out of receiving future updates  (included with Membership Toolkit templates)
  • Include your physical address on the email (included with Membership Toolkit templates)
  • Honor opt outs
  • Subject lines need to reflect the content
  • The email address that sends the email needs to be a returnable email address. (this is a requirement under Can-Spam.)

This commentary is the opinion of Amy. So use it for what it's worth!