SPF Records & How to Find Out If Your Emails Are Authenticated

May 14, 2021

Deliverability has become a major concern for nonprofits sending out emails. While you can see when emails bounce easily in most platforms, knowing how many end up in spam folders or are rejected by filters is more of a mystery. 

That's why it's important that you have email authentication if you use a third party mass communication platform like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, Kindful or a module within your CRM database. It helps protect you and your recipients from spam, spoofing, and phishing and makes it easier for you to get your emails to your supporters.

There are multiple levels of authentication, but we are going to just focus on one today - the SPF record.

An SPF record or "Sender Policy Framework" is a form of email authentication that validates that a message has been sent by an authorized email server. In other words, if [email protected] sends an email through Constant Contact, the SPF record on her website domain shows Constant Contact has her permission to send that email.

Now, we'd suggest leaving setting up an SPF record to whoever manages your IT. They will be more familiar with how to place the text file needed to set up an SPF record.

But before you do that, you might want to check if your domain already has the correct SPF record allowing your email marketing platform to send emails on your behalf. It's relatively easy to do.

The first step is to find the SPF record for your specific email provider, which is as simple as a Google search. Just search for your email provider's name and the term SPF and you should get a help desk article with the SPF record.

Then check on whether your domain has that SPF record using one of the many SPF lookup tools online like Mimecast or MXToolBox. You'll be asked to put in your domain (i.e., website) name and click the button. It should bring back the code on your domains DNS with the SPF record code.