We highly encourage our partners to install DKIM records on their domain, and though not strictly necessary, SPF records as well. If you're not sure what any of these things mean, scroll down -- we explain it for you!
How to set up DKIM records
- Get your own domain name, if you don’t have one already. We use Namecheap, but there’s many others -- HostGator, GoDaddy, and Dreamhost just to name a few.
- Once you get your own domain, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you use for your reply-to.
- We will send your domain to SendGrid (which delivers our emails). SendGrid will give us your public key. We give the public key to you.
- You add the public key (CNAME records) to your DNS records. If you’re not sure how to do that, look at the end of this document -- there’s links to help documents for many different domain-hosting websites.
- Email us when you’ve added our records to your DNS records. We will verify that you did this correctly.
- Use that domain in all of your reply-tos
How to set up SPF records
Though it’s not strictly necessary, it’s good practice to install an SPF record on the domain you send emails from. Click here for more on SPF records. An SPF record for using our system would look like this:
v=spf1 include:sendgrid.net ~all
However, if you have other services you send with, you may have additional SPF includes as well. Click here for more about the format.
If you're not sure what any of this means, dive in!
What do all these acronyms mean?
Domain -- A domain name is your website’s name. It’s the address where people can access your website. Ours is actionnetwork.org
DNS -- Domain Name System. It’s like a phonebook for the internet. It contains all the domains across the internet.
SPF -- Sender Policy Framework. SPF defines which IP addresses can send emails from your domain. It let’s the owner of the domain specify which servers can send mail from their domain.
DKIM -- DomainKeys Identified Mail. It links your domain to the emails you send, which allows your organization to take responsibility for a message that can be verified by mailbox providers. It’s pretty complicated, but it basically prevents the “bad guys” from impersonating you as an email sender by letting the recipient’s server check if the sender was really you or not. This means your emails are more likely to get delivered (and not go to spam).
Who should set up DKIM records?
Everyone, whether or not you have a tech background. In order to install DKIM records and ensure your email will make it into inboxes, you’ll need to get your own domain, which can be $10-20 a year. We know this is not ideal for smaller community organizations, but this is a small price to pay for long-term deliverability.
How does DKIM work?
DKIM works by attaching an encrypted digital signature to the header of every email. The digital signature is created by your “private key.” The private key is unique to your domain and is in the header of your emails.The encrypted digital signature is like a watermark -- and don’t worry, you can’t see it, only the computer can.
When you set up your DKIM records, Action Network gives you a public key to add to your DNS records. The private key and public key are like brothers and share DNA. The public key matches the private key, and lets the server know that the email is from you.
When servers receive the email, they decrypt the private key and match it to the public key you put in your DNS records. The server then knows the email came from you, and let’s the email get delivered. Your deliverability goes up, and everyone is happy.
How does this work with Action Network?
We send your emails, and SendGrid delivers them. Normally, the email comes from our domain. But with DKIM, it comes from your domain.
When we validate your DKIM record, we verify it through our email deliverer (SendGrid). Your recipients’ servers will check with SendGrid to make sure the emails are actually coming from you.
How does SPF work?
When you add an SPF record on your DNS, it tells the DNS what IP addresses can send on your behalf -- basically, what IP addresses your emails cam come from.
How do I do this on my domain-hosting website?
We’ve put together a list of DNS providers with links to their documentation: