Acknowledgement Letters

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You can generate, edit, and print PDF development acknowledgment letters in Axiom, merging in fields relevant to the particular donations. The overall process to utilize this feature is:

  1. Configure letter templates — fonts, headers and footers, upload header/footer images, page setup, and of course the actual text of the templates including merge fields — in Axiom.
  2. Find donations that need acknowledgments.
  3. Run the mail merge process via an Action menu item to generate the letter content.
  4. Review the letter templates containing the merged data.
  5. Create the PDF letters that you can then print or send electronically as needed.

Video Overview

Watch this video overview to see how acknowledgement letters work in Axiom. Most of the details in this article are covered in it. The video — which will be updated soon — shows adding letter template via the Add menu on the Development homepage, but the "Add" functionality has been updated: Find it on the Organize menu (+ button) on the "Mail Merge Letter Templates" query. 

Image caption

Configure Acknowledgment Letters

You will set up as many letter templates as you'll need for different types of acknowledgement letters. Once they are set up, running the letters in batch from donations records is quick.

Add a New Letter Template

To add a new letter template, navigate to the Mail Merge Templates query on the Development homepage (for Dev3 users: the Development: Configuration homepage). From here, click on the Organize menu and select "Add Record...". Only the General tab is available (the Mail Merge and Files tabs will be enabled after you add the letter). On the General tab:

  • Category: Leave set to "Acknowledgements" (additional options forthcoming)
  • Description: Give the letter a specific name, e.g., "Donors over $10k to the Annual Fund"
  • Click Add Letter to create the record.

Head to the Mail Merge tab to continue configuration:

  • Template Content: Choose a font family and font size and then  add your letter content to the "Merge Template" field. 
    • Use merge fields that will appear in the query you will use to launch the merge from. See below for more information on adding merge fields.
    • To add multiple line breaks, hit Shift+Enter on your keyboard.
    • If you prefer to edit the HTML directly, click the "Code" button.
      Edit HTML
  • Header and Footer: You can upload a header and footer image file if you'd like.
    • See below for directions on uploading and associating files.
    • Specify top and bottom margins. It is measured from the top or bottom of the image (respectively) to the end of the page.

Adding Merge Fields to the Template

Add merge fields to the letter template using the syntax:

  • {query:Field Name}

Use the field name that you find in the query design, including spaces, but they are not case sensitive. If you rename a field, use the field name you specify. In the above screenshot, note that the merge field used in the letter template is "Total Pledge," not "Pledge Amount," the original name of the field.

Tip: You can rename the fields in a query to whatever you want. Choose names that make sense in the context of a the letter you are merging them into. If you keep two windows open, as in the above screenshots, you can even copy and paste the field names directly into the letter template.

Uploading Files for Header and Footer Images

You can upload files to be used as header and footer images in your acknowledgment letter templates. The uploading process is separate from selecting the specific images to use as the header or footer. To upload images:

  1. On the Mail Merge tab, click Open File Uploader... 
  2. Select the file or drag and drop it (100 MB size limit).
  3. Rename the file (optional), select "Letter" from the drop-down, and specify a note (optional).
  4. Click Upload & Save.
  5. When the status says "Complete," close the page. (You can also upload additional files, e.g., you could upload a header and footer image in the same window).

When you have closed the file upload page, select the appropriate images for the header and footer:

  1. Click the magnifying glass.
  2. Select the file that you already uploaded and click Select Header/Footer Image File.

Access and download existing uploaded files via the Files tab.

Find Existing Letters

To find existing letters, navigate to: Development homepage > Configuration section > Mail Merge Letters.

Find Donations That Need Acknowledgement Letters

There are two queries on the Development homepage for finding and reviewing donations in need of acknowledgement:

  • Donations that need acknowledgement letters: looks for donations that have no acknowledgement letter or thank-you letter created and are not marked as not requiring a letter
  • Donations that need acknowledgement letter review: looks for donations that have a letter created

Best practice tip: Create and save your own queries based on these to generate your own letters. More on this approach below.

Run Mail Merge

You need to use the Run Mail Merge Action menu item to generate the letter content, i.e., take the letter template, merge the data, and populate the "Acknowledgement Letter Content" field for each donation.

Run the Donations that need acknowledgement letters query. This query is designed as a starting point for your workflow in generating acknowledgement letters.

  • It has many — or possibly all — the fields you will need for all of the acknowledgement letters such as different salutations, receipt date and amount, etc.
  • If you use fields in any acknowledgment letter templates that are not included in the query, you need to add them in the design view before creating the acknowledgment letter content.

Best practice recommendation:
  • Create a shared development workspace.
  • Create queries that have all the fields you need and save them to it.
  • Pin the workspace to the Development homepage for quick access.

In the query, double check:

  • The correct acknowledgement letter is selected for each donation. Adjust as needed in the query result or click into the Acknowledgment tab of the donation detail screen. Note that the query excludes donations with "No Letter Required" indicated.
  • All fields referenced in the mail merge template are present and visible in this query. You can add fields in the query design as needed. For instance, if you use a salutation as a merge field in a letter template and that field is not in the query, the merge field will not work, so you should add it to the query before running this procedure.

Select Run Mail Merge from the Action menu in the query result. In the following window, the fields are pre-populated:

  • Record ID: Donation ID
  • Batch Update "Letter Created Date" Field: If checked, this adds today's date to this field which will drop the letters off of this query.
  • Merge Template: the only option is "Acknowledgement Letter Template."

Click Generate Letters. The letter content is populated based on the letter templates.

What if you need to make a change after you have run the merge? You can always re-run the mail merge which overwrites the letter content. You can also update letter content manually (see next section).

Reviewing and Finalizing Letters

A number of review workflows are possible once the mail merge content is generated via the "Run Mail Merge" Action item. The Donations That Need Acknowledgement Letter Review query on the  Development homepage is available to help you review. You may want to save a version of the query with the exact field you find most helpful.

  1. This field was not included in the query, so the merge field is still there. Double check:
    • Is the field included in the query? If it's not, add it to the design or use a different field.
    • Is the field misspelled or something wrong in the merge field format?
    • You can simply manually enter the information. This can be a helpful quick fix but won't work for large batches. You can fix the template and re-run the mail merge, which will replace the letter contents.
  2.  This field was successfully merged into the letter content, but note that a space should probably be inserted in the template between the colon and the merge field. These sorts of minor edits only come to the surface in the review process. See next section for tips.

Review in Axiom via the Query Result

You can edit the letter content directly from the query result. This can be an expedient method of reviewing brief acknowledgement letters.

  1. Expand the row height (bottom left + button) as needed to see all or most of each letter's contents.
  2. You can edit the letter contents directly by simply clicking into the field. Edit letter contents as needed.
  3. Click Update when done with edits.

Tip: If you find yourself editing  a lot of letters, click Update every few letters to make sure your work is saved as you go. If your internet connection hiccups after the 50th letter edit, you could lose your work and be very sad.

Review in Axiom via Donation Detail Screens

You can drill into the donation records to review letters on the detail screens. Directly from the query you used to run the mail merge:

  1. Click the Donation ID of the first donation record.
  2. On donation record, click the Acknowledgement tab.
  3. Review the details of the acknowledgement letter, making updates if needed directly. Click Update.
  4. Click the Next Record button at the top of the screen to move to the next record.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for all donations.

Review PDF Letters

The final step of the acknowledgement letter workflow is, of course, to create the PDF document. But you can incorporate that into the review process as well. See the following section on how to batch print the letters.

Batch Print the Letters

Once all the letters have been reviewed, it's time to generate the PDFs. To do this, simply run the Batch Print Letters Action menu item from the query you used to review the donations.

  • Record ID: Select "Donation ID."
  • Batch Update "Letter Printed" Field: Updates the printing date to "today."
  • Letter Category: Select "Acknowledgements."
  • Click Batch Print Letters.

At the next screen, choose between:

  • Download PDF: Downloads the direct PDF file with each letter on a new page.
  • Download ZIP: Downloads a ZIP file with each letter in its own PDF document.