December 3, 2007 | Categories Nonprofit Technology

Now on Gmail…

We recently converted our entire email system to Gmail, and I’m glad to report the results are much more satisfying than our ‘new’ voice mail system that is still giving us problems- but I digress.

Gmail offers several advantages over traditional email systems. For one, it’s completely out-sourced. We don’t have to worry about backups, upgrades, or Internet connectivity (other than for our own access). And at only $50/user/year, the solution was at least 3 to 4 times cheaper than our existing system, CC:Mail.

However, like all new technology, there are advantages and disadvantages:


  • Nearly unlimited Email storage per user. I personally keep over 20,000 emails with very large attachments and according to Gmail, I’m at 4% of my capacity. I think there’s plenty of room for growth there.
  • Fast Searching. Because it’s run by Google, Gmail is MUCH faster searching through email. What used to take 5 minutes or more in CC:Mail, now takes seconds.
  • Incredible Address Book. Every single email address that you send to or receive from is captured in the Gmail Address book. It’s very easy to address email, and you can use partial searches for the addressing (such as just typing in first name, or last name, or even the domain name).
  • Conversational Grouping. This new feature (which I haven’t seen in other email systems), groups emails together based on the subject line as one ‘conversation’ of emails. This is EXTREMELY helpful when reviewing your inbox, especially after a few days, because all the responses are grouped together in one group, making it easy to review all the responses before you decide to reply or forward the email.
  • Automatic SPAM detection. Probably my favorite feature, my amount of SPAM still slipping through has been reduced from 20-25 messages a day, to only 3-5. I still have the occasional ‘good’ email be marked as SPAM, but those are easy to retrieve from the SPAM folder.

Some disadvantages:

  • Badly designed Signature Feature. For whatever reason, your signature cannot contain HTML or graphical images, and it always displays at the bottom of the email. This is VERY annoying, because you must copy the signature and move it to the top of the email if you ever reply to an email to make it look correct.
  • Lack of partial searches. Gmail does not support wild card characters for general searches, so you must type in the exact spelling of search words. For example, I was looking for email from a co-worker named Josh, and I found very little search results. I had to actually type in Joshua to find his emails.
  • No Folders. Gmail uses ‘labels’ to sort information. Forgive me if I’m not progressive, but I still liked the ability to organize my email into folders- it makes more sense for me. Having said that, now that the searches are so much easier and powerful, I’ve given up labeling altogether and simply use the search function to find email.
  • Poor Spell Checker. While GMail does include an integrated spell checking program, it only checks the body of the email (and not the subject), and there’s no way to add words and create a custom dictionary. Finally, there isn’t a setting to force spell checking- you have to remember to click a button each time.

All in all I would say that we are very satisfied with Gmail, and the one or two issues we have had are greatly outweighed by the benefits we are receiving.

It’s yet another example of the correct hosting model, similar to DonorPerfect Online, where you get the best of both worlds – an outsourced solution that costs less and has more/better features- it’s perfect.

Written by Amanda Foran
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS