email distribution list management for a pack of scouts
September 6, 2016 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Hi everyone, I have been asked to come up with a good solution for managing e-mail distribution lists for a Cub Scouts Pack. Here are the requirements 1. MUST: have the ability to have various addresses like scoutmaster@xyz.com, denleaders@xyz.com, pinewoodderbychair@xyz.com, allscouts@xyz.com, etc... 2. MUST: Cheap or Free. Doesn't *have* to be free, but should be inexpensive. 3. NICE TO HAVE: Self Management Capability where people can a. unsubscribe, or b. update e-mail addresses and physical addresses c. reset forgotten passwords by themselves. I have Googled and even searched here, but none of them meet my requirements, especially #1 above. Your help is much appreciated!
posted by apark to Technology (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you have your own domain? If so Google Apps + specifically Groups will do 1+2, maybe even 3.

Okay, maybe not as cheap as I remember.
posted by so fucking future at 9:06 AM on September 6, 2016


Is your local council set up at as nonprofit organization? If you have access to the EIN, you might be able to use Google for Nonprofits. It's pretty much Google Apps for free with some limitations.

I was able to do this for our local school PTA using their setup system, if it can match up your EIN with your address and some other details (such as verifying you control the DNS records for the org) it's literally automatic. Not sure if Scouting qualifies as a similar org but why the heck shouldn't it? It's worth a shot.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:07 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Amason's AWS SES offering has a free tier that may work. It may be a smidge more setup intensive as it base is business users but should work reliably. (send me a message if you need help setting up)
posted by sammyo at 9:16 AM on September 6, 2016


MailChimp has a free tier that should be plenty for a scout pack.
posted by flabdablet at 9:19 AM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seconding MailChimp.
posted by OrangeDisk at 9:21 AM on September 6, 2016


It seems like you might need a combination of a custom domain + email provider (to handle the "scoutmaster@xyz.com" type addresses) AND a mailing list service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact.

From what I understand of Google Apps, it should be able to do the domain/email addresses for free/cheap. Then Mailchimp's free package can handle letting people subscribe to the list "allscouts" or other lists.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:23 AM on September 6, 2016


Something else to consider is ScoutTrack, we use this to run my son's BSA troop.

It's $45/year and does all kinds of stuff to help manage various scouting organizations, including email management.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:24 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


As much as they are not like... pretty, is there a reason you can't just use yahoo groups for this?

You set up aliases like:
apark_cubscouts_scoutmaster@yahoogroups.com
apark_cubscouts_denleaders@yahoogroups.com

Then you can decide how people join this list (open to join, moderated, etc), and emails sent to those aliases just go to everyone on the distribution list. email/password management is entirely up to the individual people, and unsubscribe is no big deal.
posted by brainmouse at 9:29 AM on September 6, 2016


I set up Gmail addresses for Cubmaster and a few other roles, and then set each account to auto-forward to the current officeholder. When someone leaves, all the old messages are saved there (if the new person wants to go reading), and you can just swap out the address that's forwarded to.

To get a list populated for every parent & Scout, that's trickier -- but the suggestions above are pretty good.

(Some years ago I was with a pack that used another tool for Cub Scout advancement & membership, and it had sweet mailing abilities. But it wasn't free, and it very much wasn't self-service. There's also ScoutBook, which BSA bought about a year ago, but I think it's still an advancement tool and doesn't do communications well.)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:36 AM on September 6, 2016


I don't know if $99/year counts as cheap, but that is what myPack costs for a full-service solution. Email (including the aliases you want), weekly emails with upcoming events, self-service contact updates (email and phone), calendar of events by den with self-service RSVPs, basically everything you need. It's set up so the leader can delegate functionality, such as sending emails from the pack, or editing calendar events, in a granular way. The web design is hideous (and as far as I can tell is not customizable), but it's highly functional. Pretty much the only thing it doesn't have is advancement, but you want Scoutbook for that anyway.
posted by wnissen at 11:27 AM on September 6, 2016


I'm pretty sure Zoho (free) can do these things, though the UI was a bit confusing the last time I used it.
posted by panic at 3:55 PM on September 6, 2016


Also, Shutterfly actually has a free group service.. I run a soccer team off it. You can have members, an admin, calendar, reminders,, event attendance, and more. Plus, it's free and people can upload their photos (ah, there's the hook! Buy your photos through Shutterfly!) But I've been happy with it.

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posted by rich at 4:16 PM on September 6, 2016


As a new Cub Scout leader I recently went through all the free options and they... just are not worth what you get IMHO.

Agree with wnissen above that myPack from SOAR is a great value at $99/year. Two killer features: easy email list management (a member of Den 1 simply sends a message to den1@mypack.us and bam! everyone gets it, and everyone can simply reply to reply-all), and the ability to sync electronic, private pack calendars to an iOS or Android smart-phone or tablet.

Extremely well-thought out, I'm not a fan of the web design either but the custom theme works for me, and most importantly is easy for everyone to use and keep up-to-date without a lot of fuss.
posted by scooterdog at 6:58 PM on September 6, 2016


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