About DMARC and Email Deliverability

Why aren’t my emails from my free email account being received?

Email domains have policies in place that determine whether incoming messages should be accepted or rejected. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) is one of these policies. The goal of DMARC is to prevent phishing, spoofing and the delivery of fraudulent email. However, DMARC policies may misclassify legitimate emails as fraudulent and reject them. This has become a concern more recently due to changes by free email providers. This article will address how DMARC policies affect the delivery of your email campaigns and what to do to fix DMARC issues.

DMARC and Free Email Providers

Free email providers such as Google, Yahoo, and AOL announced they will be changing their email policies, effectively preventing free email account users from using third-party systems, like Aplos, to send emails with domains ending in: @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, @aol.com.

Let’s say you use your email address “nonprofitorg@gmail.com” as the “From” email address for an email sent through Aplos (or any other third-party email system). When you send a donation receipt or email campaign to your members, it will look like you sent it from your gmail.com email address, even though it is sent by Aplos. But with Google’s new strict DMARC policy, your subscribers’ email servers will automatically reject anything that looks like it is from gmail, but was really sent from a third-party system.

When will the DMARC Policy start?

The short answer is, it depends. Some providers, like Yahoo and AOL, have had strict DMARC policies in effect for a while. Google announced they will change their DMARC policy to “reject” these emails starting Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Other free platforms will likely introduce similar policies in the future.

In our experience, most mail providers are slow in implementing authentication on the receiving server’s side so changes in DMARC policies may not be immediately apparent. However, to ensure that your emails are received by your subscribers, it is important to be proactive and take action.

How to ensure your email is delivered

The best way to avoid the consequences of DMARC policy is to use an email address with your own custom domain. For example, instead of using nonprofitorg@gmail.com, create an email domain that is specific to your organization like name@mynonprofit.org. If you don’t have an email domain to use, you’ll need to register one.

How to register your custom domain

There are plenty of options available for domain registration services. Here are a few choices.

Setting up your SPF

Once you register your own domain, you can also improve the deliverability of the emails you send from Aplos by updating your SPF (Server Policy Framework) as well. This will match the email’s “From” @domainname.com with the delivering server’s “From” @domainname.com.

If you have an SPF record set for your domain, you must add the following to your SPF record to allow Aplos to send on your behalf.


This text must be placed before the “all” in the SPF record. If you do not have an SPF record for your domain you must create a TXT record with the value:

v=spf1 include:sendgrid.net ~all

About DMARC at Registered Domains

If you are still experiencing a large number of bounces at your domain, or a domain owned by your organization, check your DMARC policy to see if it’s strict or relaxed. It’s possible your DMARC policy is set up to tell receiving servers to reject emails that fail SPF or DKIM authentication.

You may be able to avoid certain delivery problems by updating your DMARC policy to accept emails sent through other servers on behalf of your domain. A relaxed DMARC policy also helps ensure that your subscribers will receive transactional emails such as sign-up or unsubscribe confirmations. The DMARC update process varies by domain service, so contact your email provider or IT department if you need more help to set it up.

More information about DMARC, DKIM and SPF

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