Notebook with notepad

Creating Letter Templates

For information on how Letter Templates are used when generating letters, please refer to this article: How Letters Are Created

Organizations will often want multiple letter templates for different purposes. Here are some examples:

  • A standard donor thank you letter that includes a receipt.
  • A specific thank you letter for donations received for a specific program or restricted purpose.
  • A thank you letter without a receipt or with specific receipt language. (IE for in-kind gifts or the purchase of a product or ticket to an event)
  • A thank you letter for those who give gifts in memorial of a deceased loved one.

These templates will generate the same text for every donor, with the elements such as address, donation amount, etc. pre-filled in. So, how do we create new templates? Let’s take an example where we want to create a new, standard donor thank you letter for the new year. First, go to the Letters Page. You can see your existing templates by clicking the Templates tab. Click the Add Template button to create our new template.

On the page that loads, we will want to create a Template Name. We’ll call this letter “Spring 2024 Donor Thank You”. Leave Hidden set to No. (Note: Generally, you use the Hidden option when you wish to retire an old template. We don’t typically want to delete templates, as we want to keep an accurate record of which letter the donors actually received. If you do delete a template, its text will still be saved.)

Letter Types allow you to specify what type of communication this letter represents. This is typically only used when you are sending the letter out as an email rather than printing and mailing. If this letter will not be emailed, you can simply leave this field set as “Does Not Apply”.

The types are:

  • Receipts – A receipt for a donor’s gift already received by the organization.
  • Reminders – A message reminding the donor of a promised pledge payment or membership dues that they may owe. (NOT for reminders of volunteer service.)
  • Volunteer Related Information – Any information related to volunteering, including reminders for time slots that a volunteer already signed up for.
  • Other Relationship Letter – Any other letter that is sent in response to a donor’s actions or requests.

Now we can get into creating the body of the letter. Much like you can make mail merge templates that use an Excel sheet to fill in data such as names, addresses, etc. Under the Merge Fields dropdown, you will find a number of options. Some preset options have been given for you to speed things up. For instance, we can choose the Standard Address Block – Informal to output the donor’s mailing address before our letter:

This will result in the following:

Let’s explore the merge field categories available to us:

  • Standard Blocks – These are the preset items such as receipt text, address blocks, or a signature section.
  • Donor Address Fields – All address fields (city, state, zip, etc.) are included in this section.
  • Donor Info Fields – Other donor profile fields such as names, company, email, and donor since dates are included here.
  • Calculated Fields – Some calculated fields such as Current Year Payments Received are found here.
  • Donation Fields – Information about the donation, such as the specific campaign, donation date, amount, etc.
  • Payment Fields – Payment specific fields, such as reference number, payment date, payment type, etc.
  • System Fields – These include the current date, the organization’s name, and EIN. These values are set on the System Settings tab on the Options page.
  • Images – These are images that are system wide that are set on the Letter Settings tab on the Letters page.
  • Layouts – These are some extra layouts, such as a 3 column table, that can be helpful when inserting images.

Now, with these options available to us, let’s create our new thank you letter. Wherever you need to insert one of these elements, just place your cursor and choose the variable you want from the Merge Fields dropdown. Here’s what we come up with:

Important: Take care to not mangle the merge variables. If the curly brackets are missing, the letter will fail to generate.

Now our template is ready to go!

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