How to: Keep members in touch

There are three basic methods for using this site to keep members in touch with what's happening:

Update notifications

When you raise a new article or news item (or make a change to either one) you get an option to provide a notification message. The message gets sent by email to everyone in related groups (apart from those that don't have email or have expressed a preference not to receive them). The message also contains a link to your new (or changed) item.

Email circulations

The site provides services that allow you to send emails to:

  • All members of a group
  • All members of selected groups (members in multiple groups will get the email only once)
  • All group leaders
  • All members


  • The circulation will automatically exclude those that have expressed a preference not to receive them or who have not provided an email address
  • Available groups include 'administration' groups created to support ad hoc or admin-related groups

This mechanism is the simplest because you don't have to do anything. When you add or change articles, news items or events, that change is included in our newsfeed. Members that use a newsfeed reader will be alerted to your update automatically.

You can find out more about raising update notifications for articles and news items here.

You can find out more about our newsfeed here.

The rest of this article relates to our email services.

The services allow you to send two types of email:

Plain text (including link & image tags)

You can provide a simple message in one or more paragraphs. The text is unformatted, however you can use special tags to include links and images.

To provide a simple link, use:
[link link-address]

For example:
[link] generates:

To link a piece of text, use:
[link link-address text-to-link]

For example:
[link Click me] generates: Click me

To insert an image into your email, use:
[image image-address]

Note, however, most email programs suppress images in emails by default.

Formatted text from an article or news item

You start by creating an article or news item. The item will have a title that becomes the subject for your email. The text of the article becomes the text of your email. The text can be formatted. For example it can include:

  • Headings (we suggest you use 'Heading 2's
  • Bullets
  • Bold, italic and coloured text
  • Superscripts and subscripts

Features that rely on web site code will not, however, work in your email. For example, the following will not work:

  • Folding sections (like this one)
  • Use of "fancybox" to show larger versions of images

You can then refer to the item you created when you send your email. Note that you do not have to publish your item. However, it usually makes sense to publish it so that members without email and members not in your circulation can see what you've sent.

We provide a mechanism that allows you to see how your email will appear before you send it out (see below).

There are several ways to begin sending your email. All these methods require you to have logged in to the members' area:

From a group page

Members or editors of a group can see an 'Email group members' link in the heading of the group's page.

Click the link to see a list of all the groups that you are authorised to email. The group you started with is checked automatically. You can select additional groups if appropriate.

Send to groups from the 'Email services' menu

Under the 'Member services' menu, you see 'Email services'. Under that you see an 'Email members of a selected group or groups' option. Select that to see a list of all the groups you are authorised to email. You can select one or more to be recipients of your email.

Send to group leaders from the 'Email services' menu

Under the 'Member services' menu, you see 'Email services'. Under that you see an 'Email all group leaders' option. Select that to start sending an email to group leaders.

Send to all members from the 'Email services' menu

Under the 'Member services' menu, you see 'Email services'. Under that you see an 'Email all u3a members' option. Select that to start sending an email to all our members.

However you start your email, you see this form (click to see a larger version):

The web site automatically adds your name and email address in the 'From' boxes and defaults to sending a test version of the message to your email address.


  • Add the id of the item to be used to form your email in the 'Message post id' box. The easiest way to find this is to click the 'Update or delete' button at the top of the item you want to send - the id is shown at the foot of the page below the 'Change your item button'
  • Or enter the subject and text of your email

Optionally, specify a different 'From' name and address.

Optionally, add an attachment to your email. Click here to find out more about email attachments.

Click 'Proceed' to start sending a test email. You see a confirmation message like this:

Confirmation page

Note that the message shows you the title of your selected post if you chose that method to provide the content of your email. Click 'Confirm your request' to send the test email and see this message:

Email sent

You can then confirm your email is as intended. Make sure any links in the email work correctly. If there are any problems, click Restart and:

  • Either update the plain text subject and text of your message
  • Or update the item that you are using as the basis for your message

Then send a new test message.

When you are happy your message is ready to be sent, click Restart and repeat the send process but this time select 'Send to members' instead of 'Send to test address' to send your message to your chosen distribution.

When you click 'Send to members' you will see an additional option to 'Request copy'. If you tick this option the web site will send you a copy of the email together with a list of everyone that received it (the list will exclude members that don't have emails or who have opted not to receive that type of email).