How Do You Check on Church Email Aliases?

“Hey, can you change [something or other] @stcharleschurch.org to point to this other email address?” No problem, I replied in an email, as I logged into our email system to quickly make the change to the email alias and copied the current recipient of that email address.

Except it turns out there was a problem: namely, I got a bounceback from what I thought was the current recipient. How long had this alias been forwarding to a dead account? Why hadn’t the recipient said anything about no longer wanting to be the point of contact?

We often create email aliases for ministries so that they can have an @stcharleschurch.org email address even though the actual message automatically forwards to one or more other email accounts. This approach has several benefits:

  1. Gives the address an “official” look since it includes the church’s domain; it’s potentially more easy to remember than someone’s personal address, assuming the sender already remembers stcharleschurch.org.
  2. Makes site maintenance easier because we have to make only one edit in an email tool if the recipient changes as opposed to updating addresses displayed on multiple pages across the site. This situation can arise if the current recipient changes email providers or if there is a change in recipients.
  3. Allows multiple recipients to receive a message sent to one email address. This is helpful if one committee member is the lead, but others like to in effect be copied on messages. It also helps with vacation coverage.
  4. The parish retains access to the address even if the volunteer recipient leaves or loses interest.

The drawback, as you can see, is monitoring that the aliases continue to be active. This situation prompted me to send messages to all of the other aliases so that I could see which ones generate a “live” response. But I wonder how often I should do this. Is quarterly enough? Are there more effective approach? I’d love to hear from others who have solved this problem.

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