SharePoint is returning a "Coercion warning: user or group does not have a valid e-mail address." when I attempt to target a SharePoint Group with users inside it via a SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow.

Here are the steps I have performed:

  1. Setup a "Person or Group" column with the following settings:
    • Require that this column contains information: Yes
    • Enforce unique values: No
    • Allow multiple selections: No
    • Allow selection of: People and Groups
    • Choose from: All Users
    • Show field: Name (with Presence)
  2. Created a SharePoint Group containing the following settings and with members who all have proper email addresses that are each in the format: [email protected]
    • Who can view the membership of the group? Everyone
    • Who can edit the membership of the group? Group Owner
    • Allow requests to join/leave this group? No
    • Auto-accept requests? No
    • Send membership requests to the following e-mail address: (empty)
    • Access given to the entire site and the list: READ

I've attempted to target the column in designer by "Email Addresses, Semicolon Delimited" and "As String". This falls in line with what Microsoft has listed in their instructions but it just isn't working.

Important The columns in which you store addresses for workflow e-mail messages can be either Single line of text, Multiple lines of text, or Person or Group type columns. If you use a Person or Group column, only one entry can be made in each field that the workflow will reference for e-mail addresses. When creating the column, be sure to select No under Allow multiple selections. If you want to use this type of column to specify multiple recipients, you can create a SharePoint group that includes the people that you want the workflow to address the e-mail to, and then specify the group in the field. When creating the column, be sure to select People and Groups under Allow selection of. Find a link to more information about creating lists and adding columns in the See Also section.

Note When creating SharePoint groups, make sure that each group has at least Read permissions for the site, and that in the Group Settings area of the New Group Page, under Who can view the membership of the group, Everyone is selected.

However, I am getting the aforementioned error and the variable that gets returned is always empty if I attempt to log this to workflow history and see what is going on. What is really frustrating here is if I add single users instead of using a SharePoint group it works fine. Also, in a separate List on the same site with the same permissions/settings/etc. it works fine.

I did see a KB article (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2679159) that details the problem but we are not using an Association List like they describe. I did attempt to switch to "Login Names, Semicolon Delimited" but that did not work either. The workflow actually locks up when I do that. Nothing strange about our login names either as they are the typical DOMAIN\username setup.

Really at a loss here and the company really needs this workflow working. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

  • Some additional information. I moved that part of the workflow from the Task Process part of the Approval workflow over as a next step once the approval workflow is completed (Step 2 where Step 1 is "Start approval..."). If I leave the variable to return "As String" I actually get something back now. It comes back exactly as 1080;#MY_GROUP_NAME but if I switch to return as separated emails it is empty again. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 19:42

3 Answers 3


I was finally able to get this to work properly by moving all of my notification logic out of the overall task process for the approval portion of the workflow. Meaning the area where you can "Change the completion conditions for this task process", "Change the behavior of a single task", or "Change the behavior of the overall task process".

Once I moved this into its own Step under the Step containing the Approval start, that was half of the key. I was then able to start getting the group back. I switched it to return as the Login Names separated by semi-colon.

After that, emails started coming through fine. I firmly believe SharePoint struggles to get the groups if the logic for pulling the group variable is in that part of the workflow. I'm also a little baffled I had to use Login names instead of the email addresses or As String but, it's working now.

Thanks everyone.


Did you try to send the email to the group by selecting the group name from the people picker, without formatting the returned result, I mean don't return the emails and separating with ;, just directly point to the group. It worked when I was working with SPD 2007, I am sure it should work the same way.

  • As I stated above, "I've attempted to target the column in designer by "Email Addresses, Semicolon Delimited" and "As String"." Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 15:43
  • Also I should state that I don't modify anything at the People Picker level either. I attempted both using "Check Names" and the "Browse" address book without removing any semicolons or what not from the field after it gets populated. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 15:44
  • Did you make sure all users in that group have valid email addresses? Did you try with only one user in that group? Also can you try with another group to see what would happen?
    – user19105
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 16:14
  • "...members who all have proper email addresses that are each in the format: [email protected]" and yes I did try with another group and another group with different users. No dice. It works if you put a single user in though instead of a group. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 17:56
  • Is this group created in SharePoint then filled with users? Or is it mapped to AD Group?
    – user19105
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 18:46

Does it happen no matter which group you select? And, you state that:

Also, in a separate List on the same site with the same permissions/settings/etc. it works fine.

So, you're saying that you've made 1 workflow where it works and 1 where it doesn't and they're doing the exact same thing? That sounds like a bug and one of those instances where either it's not doing the "exact same thing" or somehow there's a corruption in your workflow.

  • Yes, the issue occurs regardless of group entered. I have a workflow and list that have exactly the same settings (which I painstakingly confirmed both the workflows and lists by going through each setting side-by-side). I am actually about to go down the corrupted workflow route by attempting this on a third list. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 17:59

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