Sending an email to ask for a contribution

I’d like to send an unsolicited email to a couple of businessses in my community asking them if they’d like to contribute something about their business for a community blog. Is there any legal/legitmate way to do this? If I add the unsubscribe verbage at the end of the email, does that make this one-time email legal?

Being that it’s a one-time email, it seems strange to ask them if they’d like to unsubscribe, since they aren’t being subscribed. I look forward to being enlightened, thanks.

If you really only intended to send a couple of these, I can’t see it being a big problem. It’s not as if you will be doing a bulk mailing to thousands of names picked at random.

But, to be on the safe side, I suggest you observe the following points:

  1. Keep the whole message short.

  2. Personalise it - not just by manually adding a salutation, but by making it clear in some way that the message is intended specifically for the person or firm to whom it is addressed.

  3. Most important: Include the following text, or something similar:

     [COLOR=#0000cd]If this offer is of no interest to you, please ignore this message. I will not trouble you again.[/COLOR]

I think the above form of words is much more useful than an unsubscribe message (which, in any case, would be inappropriate, because it would suggest that the recipient is “subscribed” to something, which is the opposite of what you are trying to convey).

Now, having said all that, keep in mind that practices and customs vary from country to country and from place to place. But, in most cases, if you follow the above points, it’s unlikely you’ll have any problems.


Thanks for your reply.
No, I’m not planning on “doing a bulk mailing to thousands of names picked at random”, however, it may take 200 emails (maybe send a fraction of that each day) to find five people to contribute (in the usa). The message is short, the message is personalized, I’m not trying to sell them anything, but actually ask them to do something for me, essentally. Would using a mail delivery service be a good idea? I’m not sure how those work.

Well, sending 200 emails is a lot different from sending emails “to a couple of businessses”, as per your original question. You see, all it’s all a matter of scale. Clearly, two emails are OK; 2,000 are definitely not. 200 is border-line. Personally, I would be cautious about doing that, but maybe I’m being over-careful.

The fact that you are not directly selling anything doesn’t make a difference.

Using a mail delivery service is not a good idea, in my opinion. It makes the whole thing less personal, and you give up a certain amount of control. In particular, the service wil probably require you to link to their automated unsubscribe system. As I explained earlier, that’s bad because you don’t want to give the impression that the recipient is subscribed to anything.