Resolving email delivery issues

There are many reasons why you may be unable to send an email to someone through ChurchSuite. When ChurchSuite's mail handler "Mandrill" (the people behind MailChimp) receive an email error from a recipient email handler, the error details are returned back to ChurchSuite; an 'email errors' notification is also sent to the email author.

To discover the reason for any undeliverable sent emails, head to the Address Book module's Reports section and view the Email Errors report. This will generate a report of any errors that were encountered when sending Address Book email communications. The Children, Calendar, Giving and Bookings modules also each have their own Email Errors report for communications that were authored to the people in those modules.

The email error is also surfaced on the recipient person's profile. Temporary errors - ie soft bounce or reject - will display for 14 days from the last error, with the option to Ignore the message, thus preventing the email error continuing to show on that profile. Choosing to Ignore an error message suppresses the message, it does not resolve the error. Resolving the error can only be done via ChurchSuite support (as described below). Permanent errors - ie spam or hard bounce - are surfaced until either the email address for the contact is updated or the error is resolved via ChurchSuite support (as described below).

When an email error is received, the contact is immediately unsubscribed from general emails and, if appropriate, rota emails. Their email address is left in place, however, so that they are still able to access My ChurchSuite.


This usually arises from a recipient intentionally or inadvertently labelling one of the emails you've sent through ChurchSuite as spam. As a result the email address is blacklisted to prevent you sending them further unwanted emails through ChurchSuite until the blacklisting is removed at the recipient's direct request to ChurchSuite Support. Even if they subsequently mark your domain as a 'safe sender' a blacklisted email address remains blacklisted until we are given authority from the recipient that they do indeed wish to receive your emails once again. 

The purpose of this functionality is to protect people - even if legitimate Address Book contacts - from being spammed by emails from your ChurchSuite account. This protection involves the contact's email address being added to Mandrill's blacklist (Mandrill process all outbound ChurchSuite account emails). Removing an email address from the Mandrill blacklist can only be done by ChurchSuite Support and a request must come to us directly from the contact and from the affected email address they want un-blacklisted (again, this is for their protection).

In the event that a recipient/contact accidentally marks an email as Spam or changes their mind, they will need to contact to be removed from the blacklist. Please be aware that it can take up to 24 hours for the "rejection" status to clear, during which time further emails may be rejected.


Alternatively, your email may have been rejected by the recipient's email server and consequently added to a rejection blacklist. There are two types of bounce explained below:

Hard Bounces

If an email error is labelled as Hard Bounce it almost certainly means that the recipient's email you hold does not exist, likely due to a typing error. When this happens, the email address causing the bounce still remains against the person - so that they can continue to access My ChurchSuite - but the person is unsubscribed from both general and rota emails; and a Changes log entry is added stating why they were unsubscribed, e.g. "Email address does not exist". Additionally, when the person's profile page is viewed, a feedback message is displayed advising of the hard bounce. If the email address for the person is changed, the feedback message will no longer be displayed.

A hard bounce is considered to be a permanent error. A hard bounce arises because the recipient's email handler has returned a hard bounce error message to ChurchSuite's mail handler. Hard Bounces can therefore only be resolved by the recipient (providing you with a correct email address), or by their email provider - not ChurchSuite (which can only be resolved by the recipient contacting their email provider). Please be aware that it can take up to 24 hours for the "rejection" status to clear, during which time further emails may be rejected.

Soft Bounces

If an email is labelled as Soft Bounce it typically means the recipient's email provider is encountering a temporary delivery issue. Soft bounces are handled differently to hard bounces. When an email address soft bounces it will immediately display as a soft bounce in the Email Errors report. If an email address continues to soft bounce in subsequent emails/campaigns the address will eventually be considered a 'hard bounce'. While there are many reasons an email address may soft bounce - below are some common reasons this could happen.

  • Recipient mailbox is full (over quota)
  • Recipient email server is down or temporarily offline
  • Email message is too large for the server to handle

In cases of Soft Bounce the person's email provider will attempt to automatically deliver the email over the course of the next few days. If the issue persists then it will be labelled as 'rejected due to previous errors' and will be hard-bounced back to ChurchSuite's mail handler. If this occurs, and the recipient still wishes to resume receiving emails, then they will need to contact asking for their email to be reinstated.

If a Soft Bounce issue persists speak to the intended recipient to try and work out the problem: often it will be as simple as removing a large history of emails from their mailbox to clear space. 

For more information on mailbox delivery issues check out Mandrill's guidance.

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