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How to integrate other Email Backends?

I'd like to integrate a 3rd party email service like Sendgrid or Mail Chimp (with Amazon SES) to handle transactional emails for a askbot project. It would be ideal to add support for this with as little source hacking as possible. With newer versions of Django you can specify an Email Backend, but this feature is not available in Django 1.1. Can you recommend the best approach for email service integration? I have not been able to find very much documentation on email sending in general, so any direction you can provide would be helpful. Thank you.