Creating a Group Email
A group email address is important for several reasons. It gives your group a way to publicize contact information without publicizing an individual’s specific information. Your group will gain credibility as an autonomous entity, and it's often easier to remember than an individual's email address. It also acts as a permanent way to contact the group through leadership transitions and other changes.
Many groups simply use the current president's email address as a group email address. While this does provide a way to contact the group, we strongly recommend against it (apart from a temporary measure during group startup). First of all, your leadership is going to change and modifying your group’s primary email every year or two will get annoying. Second, it creates the appearance that leader has a higher level of power or importance, and may actually give said leader a disproportionate influence over the group and its public face. Third, it becomes a catalyst if a leader becomes injured or ill, gets busy with schoolwork, grows disillusioned with the group and drops out, or has any other conflicts. People trying to contact the group won’t be able to get through, and your group will seem unprofessional.
Group emails apply to both high school and college affiliates. Using a group email is a great idea for a younger club because it gives interested parties a way to directly contact your leadership. Secular Student Alliance and CFI can maintain contact with all of your group’s leadership, versus just one officer. When it comes to communicating with large national organizations, or even smaller local organizations, such an email address can make a huge difference in gaining and maintaining resources. It is also a great idea for an older, more established organization because it makes it easy for new members to contact you. Additionally, a group email gives your group a public face for off-campus parties who might be interested in your events, including media or school officials.
Quite simply, we strongly recommend a separate, autonomous group email address. Ideally, this address can be accessed or received by several individuals, so the responsibility can be shared among several officers and your group has several resources in case of problems. You can do this either by having your group email address forward to multiple officers (this is how the SSA email addresses work) or by giving the inbox login credentials to multiple officers. Both systems have some pros and cons. A forward is a little easier to manage, but you might end up with multiple people responding to incoming messages. Create a system of who responds to what in order to minimize this problem (i.e. VP responds to member inquiries, President to school officials, etc). Sharing email passwords can run the risk of being accessed little too widely and allowing unintended access of the group account. Changing the password every year can minimize this issue.
There are several options for your group to choose from in looking to set up such an email address. See below for details on the positives and negatives of each one:
Single-user account on Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft Live, etc.
Example Address: SSAHogwarts@gmail.com
Pros: easy to create and manage; some addresses can be forwarded to multiple recipients; a Gmail account also gives you access to Google Docs which can be useful for your group
Cons: Outgoing leaders must be sure to give the login information to the incoming leaders or else the account will become unusable
University email accounts
Pros: Easy to obtain (if available); allows the transfer of the email address to the incoming officers without action on the part of the old officers
Cons: Not all universities offer their student groups this resource
SSA email forwarding
Pros: Once requested, we here at the SSA manage the service for your
group;, easy to redirect it to new officers
Cons: Your group must let us know about new officers so we know to redirect it or else your group will cease to get email
Pros: If your group already has a Facebook group, you can easily create an email address for that group; email address is accessible by all admins in the group
Cons: Current admins of the group must be sure to make new officers admins so that they can manage the email account, the group must have a Facebook group in order to have access to this resource
Pros: This is a nice alternative to Facebook groups with a much better ability to edit and change the page; a GroupSpaces group also gives you access to a mailing list that is easy to manage (which none of these other services offer)
Cons: It is a new service so many people may not be familiar with it