Simple Conditional Mail Merge for Raiser’s Edge / RE NXT Acknowledgement Letters
We Believe that creating Donor Acknowledgement Letters should be simple
The video below was added in March of 2022 just after Blackbaud removed the Word integration from Mail. You can see all the new features added to EasyREmerge on the second post on our FAQ page named “Latest New Features“
I have worked with Raiser’s Edge since 1997 when I started at Blackbaud in Raiser’s Edge Support, I was the last support group to be trained on supporting RE DOS. In RE DOS there was no Mail Merge Wizard to identify and send a different donor acknowledgement letter based on a, “Letter Code” assigned to a gift. Instead RE DOS clients would rely on a Conditional If, then else statement in Word which pointed to the correct Word document for each letter. The problem with that solution was one it was initially created it was difficult to update, add one space in the wrong location and the entire process would not work. Some organizations are using a complicated if then else statement in Word to replicate the Mail Merge Wizard process that is ending in the Raiser’s Edge. While this may work it will be difficult for future staff members to add and update letters.
Most non-profits we work with have regular staff turnover and using a complex solution to generate different donor acknowledgements can lead to lack of efficiency, additional time and missing the opportunity to not only thank your donors but update them with some current news about your organization.
The Problem and Challenge
Since Raiser’s Edge version 6.x, each gift is typically assigned a letter code. Later when processing donor acknowledgement letters that code will determine which Word template is used for that donor acknowledgement letter. A nonprofit will generally have a general thank you letter, major donor thank you letter, campaign thank you letter, specific event thank you letter and a executive director thank you letter…the number of letters can be lengthy, as adding them and editing them was always easy.
I have trained thousands of people how to code gifts in batch with a letter code then use the, “Mail Merge Wizard” in Raiser’s Edge / Mail / Donor Acknowledgement Letters to produce all of the letters at once, grouped together with the proper text based on the letter code added to the gift.
As of February 28, 2022 the Mail Merge Wizard is no longer available and we decided to create the simplest solution for our past and future clients. The solution keeps 100% of the functionality included in Raiser’s Edge / Mail / Donor Acknowledgement letters and simply uses the export function to create a data file to be fed into EasyREmerge which takes the place of the Mail Merge Wizard.
So instead of clicking Merge you simply click Export. Since we are still using RE NXT Database view to generate the data file you can still generate even the most complex soft credit letters or any other letter as you did before the loss of functionality because EasyREmerge will complete the merge.
An additional problem solved by EasyREmerge is that all of your letters can have different margins, images, headers and footers that was not possible in RE NXT as all letters had to use the same margins. Another win for EasyREmerge! Also bold, italics, and underlining are not an issue.
The Solution – EasyREmerge
EasyREmerge was designed to take a data file from RE NXT Database View / Mail / Donor Acknowledgement Letters and process that data as a conditional mail merge based on a Letter Code with multiple Acknowledgement Templates. With EasyREmerge a single folder is used to store all donor acknowledgement letters making it easy to add a new one or update an existing letter. Your organizations acknowledgement letter templates can be located on a network folder making additions or edits easy.
After you review the process if you have questions see our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions page) or contact us here: Contact Us – EasyREmerge
HOW IT WORKS
Step One – Letter Template Folder – Initially you will need to replace the merge fields in each of your individual acknowledgement letters with the new EasyREmerge, “Tags”. That is a one-time process, unless you decide to add a new letter or insert a new merge field to an existing letter.
***All of your organizations Letter Templates can be stored on a network folder to make updating easier.
Step Two – Output Folder – Specify a folder where today’s donor acknowledgement letters will be produced. Typically a folder is created each month and then a folder for each time donor acknowledgement letters are created during the month.
Step Three – Create an Export in RE NXT Database view of the gifts that need to be acknowledged in Mail / Donor Acknowledgement Letters. Remember all you need to do is click Export instead of Merge as your last step in Mail / Donor Acknowledgement Letters. Save that file and open EasyREmerge.
Step Four – Not required but a useful new feature some of our clients asked for! EasyREmerge creates a single document for each acknowledgement. This maintains margins, images and formatting that can be unique to all templates. But if you want all letters to save to one main combined document you can now specify headers, footers and margins for that document. EasyREmerge can create just your acknowledgements, just the combined merge document or both. (Note in RE 7 and RE NXT before the removal of the conditional merge interface ALL letters pulled the margins and formats using first letter template which was always an issue, EasyREmerge for the win with this enhanced feature!
The only requirement of EasyREmerge is to move the Letter Code to the top of your merge fields in RE NXT / Mail / Donor Acknowledgements and that only needs to be done once. Note there are up and down arrows available for this functionality.
Step Four – Click Generate Letters
Let’s take a look at the process below. There are three main tabs of the EasyREmerge Excel process.
The Main tab is where you start the process. Once the process is initially setup the daily process for creating conditional acknowledgement letters is to 1. Select the location of the data file generated in RE NXT database view/Mail/Donor Acknowledgement Letters then 2. Upload the data 3. Generate the Letters.
On the Main tab you can also see the available acknowledgement templates.
The data tab is refreshed each time donor acknowledgements need to be run with the data created in RE NXT database view Mail / Donor Acknowledgemet Letters. Notice the first column is the letter code that was added during gift entry, remember we specified that as the first column or field of data in RE NXT Database view / Mail / Donor Acknowledgement Letters. The rest of the columns are the merge fields you exported. Great news if you see a mistake, you can always change the data here.
The Tags tab is where you are presented with a unique “Tag” for each value in your RE NXT export from Mail / Donor Acknowledgement Letters. These Tags (as seen in column B) are the merge fields you add to your letter templates.
Adding the tags to all Acknowledgement letters is a one-time process. Any time you have a new Acknowledgement letter you will need to add Tags so that the merge can process.
There is also Tag formatting column which can format your data using one of three date formats, currency, zipcode or plain text.
If you have a new Export with new values for a new letter there is a button “UPDATE (tags)” which creates a new tag for any new values in your data file. This makes adding new letters a simple process.
Sample Letter Template with Merge Fields (Tags)
Merge fields called Tags are added to each letter template. Word Document Tags are generated within the “Tags” tab and become the merge fields within the letter templates as shown below.
Try it for 7 days free
We are so sure this will simplify the conditional donor acknowledgement process for your current and future staff that we allow you to download a full working copy to use for 7 days. During that trial we are happy to join you on a Zoom meeting to make sure everything is working. If you are not happy just cancel your annual subscription. We are happy to answer any questions during the free trial and jump on a Zoom call and share screens as needed. There are not many options so getting EasyREmerge setup is a simple process.