We received a letter stating that we are not complying with ACMA spam rules. After investigation I realised there's an issue with people unsubscribing from a group and then being added to the group again from admin. This has happened with many people in my search of June alone.

How to replicate:

  1. User Unsubscribe from Mailing List/Group (footer of their email)
  2. User is unsubscribed from group in the GROUPs tab of their profile
  3. Admin adds user to group at a later date This last step is the issue. They shouldn't be able to be added after they unsubscribe - or admin should at least receive a message to warn them.

I found some info about it here https://forum.civicrm.org/index.php%3Ftopic=6428.0.html however the information is very old and I have since been told this issue was fix already ... However clearly not fixed for us. I was advised to post here for help.

Our current system is using Joomla 3.9.28 with CiviCRM 5.38.0

Here is an example of a user who unsubscribe from "All supporters/contributors" and was then added to the list a few days late. This happened twice for the poor persona and some have unsubscribed even more, so it's no wonder we are getting complaints :(

Action  Log Type   When                 Altered Contact                           Altered By

Added   Group      2021-06-23 15:57:34  ***NAME*** [All supporters/contributors]  ADMIN

Removed Group      2021-06-15 17:08:33  ***NAME*** [All supporters/contributors]

Added   Group      2021-06-11 14:33:31  ***NAME*** [All supporters/contributors]  ADMIN

Removed Group      2021-06-04 18:54:56  ***NAME*** [All supporters/contributors]

Hoping someone can assist?

Many many thanks in advance!

  • per Aidan's comments, any reason you cannot do this using a Smart Group and help admins avoid the idea that 'they add people to mailing lists'?
    – petednz - fuzion
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 20:12

1 Answer 1


Compliance depends on both tools and practices, and the problem here seems to be one of practice: Why are admin users adding contacts back into a group they have unsubscribed from and then mailing them?

Generally admin users are assumed to know what they are doing it and if an admin tells Civi to add a contact to a group then ... it adds them to the group. If you were using the group for reports or targetting potential donors (those who have not contributed) - pretty much any purpose other than mailing - then you'd be upset if you added them to the group but found Civi ignored that because of a mailing preference.

Based on the name of your group 'All supports/contributors' and your description, I'm guessing that you are adding people to this group when they make a donation. If that's not what you are doing then the rest of this may not help! But on that assumption, the problem with the group is that people are added on the basis that they have made a contribution, but it is used on the basis that they have made a contribution AND want to receive your mails.

A few options you could look at:

  1. Ask people if they want to receive contributor mailings when they donate and mail to that list instead. Admins should not manually add people to that list.
  2. If you're working on the basis of a legitimate interest to mail them unless they unsubscribe, then you could create a smart group (eg those with a contribution in the last 12 months) and use that for mail. People can unsubscribe from the smart group and won't be added again based on a new contribution.
  3. If for some reason you still want admin involvement in who is eligible to receive the mails, you could use your current process but create a smart group 'contributor mailings' with the criteria of belonging to the 'All supporters/contributors' group and use that for mail. As in 2) the smart group will let people unsubscribe and your manual process of re-adding them to the 'All supporters/contributors' group (NOT to the 'contributor mailings' group) will not override their choice. Make sure to remove the 'mailing list' flag from the 'All supporters/contributors' group to avoid inadvertently using that group in a mailing.

Note that the first two options avoid the need for manual work by an admin.

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