Simple Conditional Mail Merge for Raiser’s Edge / RE NXT Acknowledgement Letters

We Believe that creating Donor Acknowledgement Letters should be simple  

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 was designed to take a data file with any number of merge fields, turn those merge fields into “Tags” that are then added to a folder containing all of your current acknowledgement letters. Previously all donor acknowledgement letter templates were stored within a mailing function in RE NXT Databsae view and could be difficult for a new staff member to find. 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.

After you review the process if you have questions see our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions page) or Contact Us.

HOW IT WORKS

Step One – Letter Template Folder – Initially you will need to replace your current mail merge fields in each letter with the new EasyREmerge, “Tags” but that only happens once, unless you decide to add a new merge field to your letter. Remember EasyREmerge will need to know the location of all your current donor acknowledgement letter templates. Blackbaud created a process for extracting all of your current letters and we have linked to that article in our FAQ page

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. 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.

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

 EasyREmerge Screenshots

Let’s take a look at the process below. There are two main tabs of the EasyREmerge Excel process.

  1. Data Tab

The data tab is refreshed each time donor acknowledgements need to be run. Notice the first column is the letter column, 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.

  • Parameters Tab

The Parameter tab is where you point to your letter folder, data file and output folder.

Each time you have a new data file you will need to choose, “Update Data” button which will update the Data Tab with the data for your latest batch of acknowledgement letters.

If you have added a new merge field in your data file choose “Update {tags}” which will update your list of available Word Document Tags to add to your main Letters in your Letter Template Folder. All of the available Tags show in column B and we added the ability to format that data as text, currency or date. That way you can assign your gift amount data a currency tag.

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. If you are not happy just cancel your subscription. If you are happy then just continue with your annual license.

Weekly Zoom Review of EasyREmerge

We plan to have weekly Zoom meetings where we review the entire process. We plan on recording these meetings and adding them to the website.

Our first open Zoom call is Friday, April 1st at 2:00 PM EDT use our contact form to request an invitation