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Automating Postal Messages

I have the pleasure of being the Master of my lodge again this year (it's been about 15 years) and I wanted to do something different to attempt to reengage the members. I took the time over the weekend to create a mailer to our members (and to members who have demitted offering an open hand if they wish to repetition) outlining what we are doing this year & providing an overview of upcoming meeting agendas. Additionally, I created a birthday card that will go to each current member at the beginning of their birth month. I did this through the use of a bulk mailing company called stannp.com and I wanted to share how I did it with you.



By combining your exported member list from the INGL Database with a system like stannp.com, a digitally savvy user can pre-program birthday cards to be mailed out at the beginning of each month, or provide a postcard to current members with reminders of upcoming activities. The user experience is fairly simple, but it does require a bit of patience - either way, it should be well within the scope of a person with moderate to strong computer skills.


A website user interface showing multiple items pending mailing.
Dashboard showing the list of pending "snail mail" campaigns from stannp.com.

Steps to setup automated mailings:

1. Get permission from your lodge - while setting up the account does not have a fee, sending the materials does

2. Download your lodge's membership list from the Lodge Portal ( to export the member list from the INGL Database).

3. Open the exported Excel file and create a new column called "birthmonth" in a new column by extracting just the month from the member's birthdate field. The likely formula is "=MONTH(A2)" and then pull the formula down for all rows.

4. Save the changes and close the file in Excel.

5. Create an account on us.stannp.com (Note: This is not a recommendation for this service - it is one of several similar services, it is simply the one the author was using at the time this post was created.)


6. Upload your member list into the tool by selecting "Mailing List" and then Recipient Groups.



7. Select "Create a New Group" (the yellow button at the left of the screen) and "Create a new Blank Group."


8. Click on the placeholder name in the list to update the group name to something where you will know what segment you are mailing to. In this example you will see I clicked on "Group 6" and renamed it "Test Mailing List."




9. Click on the "View Recipients" button at the end of the row to enter the segment


10. On the next screen click "Add Recipients" then select "Import recipients"

11. Either click on the database icon (stack of platters) and select your updated Excel file or drag and drop it into the field to begin your inport.


12. This step takes some time, but it is important that you do it right.

For each column in the Spreadsheet, you have to map it to a field in the stannp.com database or create a custom field.

You only need to import: -First Name

-Last Name

-Address 1

-Address 2

-City

-State

-Zipcode

-Country

-Birthmonth (custom)


All Other Columns should be mapped to "Skip this column"

This looks as follows:








13. After mapping the fields, scroll to the bottom of the page:

-Select "Existing Group"

-Select your new group from the dropdown

-For check for Duplicates, select "If firstname initial plus last name and address matches"

-For what shall we do... select "Update nay matching duplicates with the newest data imported"

-Set the default country to the correct response

14. Press "Import Data." It will take a couple of minutes to upload the data.


15. Now it's time to create your mailer. You can follow the instructions on stannps.com to learn how to create an asset from scratch - or simply work your way through the process by navigating to "Send Mail" and then selecting "Bulk Campaigns."



16. As you work through the design, be sure to go into "Settings" and select the address format from the drop-down that looks like the below format in the pink hashed box. Additionally, be sure to add your return address.

NOTE: It is a great idea to use the small down-chevron next to "Save and Finish" to save your work as a template so you can use it again in the future without remaking it. This is crucial for birthday cards which require you to make 12 individual bulk campaigns, one for each month.


17. After you have completed the design, click "Save and Finish" to begin the association of your Mailing List to your piece. On the Select Data form, pick the data group that you are mailing to by clicking the yellow "Select" button at the end of the row.

18. On the next page, pick if you wish to send to everyone on your list or only to addresses that the system can verify. Sending to unverified mailboxes is more expensive.




19. This is not a necessary step if you are mailing your entire group.


If you are doing birthday cards, use the "Add Filters" accordion box to show the full add filters options. Here you can target the mailing to specific segments of your list. For birthdays, we will use the "birthmonth" field and set the campaign to "Matches" and then the numerical value for the mailing year.


Reminder - If you are sending birthday cards one month at a time, you will need to create 12 different campaigns and stagger the send date.


20. After you have selected and filtered your group, click the yellow "Save Selection" button to move to the proofing step.

21. The next screen has the proofing for your piece. It will show one or two pieces - be sure to look at the address and make sure everything is right. Once you approve, your only opportunity is to recreate the mailing to fix something.




22. When all is good, click "Approve Campaign" and move to the scheduling screen. On this screen, you will select a dispatch date (one of the green dates) and it will estimate a future delivery date (shown as the grey "hose" square.) It will also provide you an overview of the cost.


23. You are about done - Click "Checkout" and complete the purchase process.

Great Job!

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I would like to generate a file, preferably CSV format, with member names and MM dates, so that I can send cards for Masonic anniversaries. The "active membership roster" includes degree dates. But it is not arranged in a format that allows degree dates to easily be extracted or placed in columns for import into a program/app for automating anniversary card mailings.

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Very useful and handy instructions!


After reading reviews and asking friends for input, I gave https://www.simplytoimpress.com a try. (Recommended by https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter). It was very easy to upload the Lodge's mailing addresses. The price was reasonable, and the turnaround time was quick. I sent holiday cards to all of our members.


I also tried postable.com. But I was unable to upload the Lodge's mailing list (despite contacting postable's customer service), and eventually gave up.


I should be able to use the "Birthday Listing" report in the Lodge Portal to send birthday cards with simplytoimpress. It will not be as straightforward to send cards on Masonic anniversaries. But that will be my next project.


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