Emailing Receipts, Letters and Statements

<< Click to Display Table of Contents >>


Emailing Receipts, Letters and Statements

You can email the built-in or mail-merged receipts to those donors for whom you have entered an email address in the Donor Details area. You can also email statements, and any letters created with the Letters menu options.


Note: These options are not available with the free Lite version of the program.


Before you can do any of this, you need to configure email sending from the program, via the Maintenance Email Sending Configuration menu option.


While the options described here allow you to email generated receipts, letters and statements to donors as an attachment, there may be cases when one of the other methods for emailing to donors from DONATION (the Letters ⇒ Email Donors menu option or Using Mass Email Services) would be more appropriate. Please see Using Mass Email Services for a full discussions of the pros and cons of each method.


Before emailing receipts, you will also need to specify a scanned signature bitmap to go on the receipts, since obviously you can't sign them by hand!


Once you have created receipts with options such as Receipt Current Donor Original, or recreated them with an option such as Receipt Reprint Range or Letters Mass Mailing, you will see a button on the built-in receipt viewing window labelled Email/Print. In the mail merge editor for any letters, statements, or mail-merge receipts, the emailing is done with the File Email/Print menu option, and a corresponding toolbar button. (You can also use Receipt Current Donor Sample for testing - receipts created with that option are always emailed to yourself, rather than to the donor.)


The "statement" reports Reports ⇒ Donation ⇒ Details, One Page per Donor and Category Totals, One Page per Donor, and the Total Donations Information and Pledge Information mail merges which can be used as statements, can also be sent by email, using the same menu options or buttons.


Note: Sending mass emails from any program can be unreliable. The emailing can fail for various reasons. When you are emailing receipts, as long as at least one receipt got emailed successfully, those receipts will be saved back to your database. If there is a problem, you will be told which receipt number it failed on. Once you are clear that you have resolved your emailing problem, you can re-display the receipts that have not yet been emailed with Receipt Reprint Range, and again use the Email/Print button to email them.


After clicking the Email/Print button or menu option, the program checks to see whether any of the donors whose receipts, letters or statements are displayed have email addresses. If none of them do, you just get a message to that effect, and nothing further is done.


If some of the donors for the displayed receipts or statements have email addresses and some of them don't, a window like the following will then be displayed:




Normally you would leave the default first radio button selected, and press Enter or click OK. However, there may be situations where you want to use the other options, including cases where you tried this before, the email sending failed but the printing was successful, and you want to try only the emails again.


If all of the donors for the displayed receipts or statements have email addresses, the above window is not displayed, and the program will always try to email to all of the donors. (If there is more than one receipt or statement displayed when this is the case, a message is shown to inform you that none of them need to be printed.)


Next, the following window comes up to confirm the Subject line and Body of the email that will be sent to the donors, with the receipt or statement attached as a PDF file:




The From Name and Email address in this window will be your name and email address, as configured in Maintenance Email Sending Configuration. The signature block at the end of the Body will be based on what you have entered in Maintenance Organization Info. However, you can edit the Subject line and Body to be however you want them to be. The Body is normally just plain text, so you cannot include fonts or images. (However, see below for an option for those users who know HTML to change it to HTML, which does allow fonts, images, etc.) Your edits to the Subject and Body will be saved for the next time you email receipts or statements. Please note that once they have been saved once, even if you change the organization info in Maintenance Organization Info, the signature block in the Body will not change - you will have to also change it there, the next time you email receipts or statements.


You also have the option of adding an additional attachment to the receipts, letters or statements being emailed, by typing a full pathname into the Optional field in the Attachments area, or using the Browse button there to select a file. For instance, you might want to send a newletter along with the emails.


The three elements above the Body shown in the image above, "Insert Field", the drop-down list, and the Insert button, only appear when you are generating the receipts or creating letters using mail merge, not using the regular built-in report-style receipts. The "Insert Field" drop-down list contains most of the same data fields that you can merge into the type of mail-merge document you are emailing. Selecting a field from that list then clicking the Insert button inserts that merge field at the current cursor position in the Body. If you insert fields in that way, each email body will be personalized using that donor's data for the inserted fields. Probably the field you would most likely insert would be «Name», the donor's full name (or business name, if there is one). For details on all of the available merge fields, see Mail Merge Fields.


Although the Insert button only inserts fields directly into the text Body of the email, you can actually cut or copy and paste them from there into the Subject line for the email, and that will also cause the donor's data to be merged into that Subject line.


After clicking OK in that window, the program will start to create PDF files for each receipt or statement for each donor that has an email address, then send those as an email attachment, with the Subject line and Body you specified in the window above, and the optional additional attachment. (Of course, if you selected to skip sending emails, and only print, in the first window above, this step will not be done.)


Next, after a message telling you how many emails were sent, unless you specified to skip the printing for donors without email addresses in the first window above, it will print those ones to your printer. Obviously, those ones then need to be mailed out or distributed directly to the donors as usual.


There is one tricky part about the ones to be printed to your printer, when you are using mail merge receipts or statements. For technical reasons, when the Print dialog box comes up, the program is unable to automatically change the default printer back from the novaPDF printer used to create the PDF files to your regular printer. You will have to select the correct real printer, before clicking Print. This is not a problem when you are using the built-in receipts or statements.


You also need to pay careful attention to any email receipts that bounce back to you, due to bad email addresses for the donors etc., or ones you receive error messages about during the emailing process. Those donors will thus not have received their receipts, and you will want to print and send them normally. (Or, contact the donor, obtain a corrected email address for them, and re-send them by email.) You can reprint a receipt that bounced back with the Receipt Reprint Range menu option. This issue with bounced emails is not as big a deal with statements, because it's not crucial that donors receive their statements.


Note: Because the emailing is done by an email sending component that is part of DONATION, with no connection to any email program that you use normally (such as Outlook), there is no record of which emails were sent to which donors in the Sent Mail folder of your email program. To get a blind copy of each email that is sent, you can check the "Bcc: to yourself" checkbox in the Maintenance Receipt Options window.


Warning about Editing Mail-Merge Document(s) before Emailing


If you are emailing mail-merged receipts, letters, or statements to more than one donor, there is no point in making any edits to the documents before you start the Email/Print process, because they will be lost. (An example of why you might want to make such edits would be to further personalize the documents.)


The reason there is no point in doing that is that the program re-generates each mail-merged document one at a time, before saving it as a PDF and attaching it to an email to the relevant donor. As a result, any prior edits are lost.


If you do want there to be edits, you should either make them in the mail-merge template (if they apply to all donors), or only generate one donor's receipt, letter or statement at a time, in which case any changes you edit in before starting the Email/Print process will be included in the PDF attachment.


Any edits you make are always included if you only Print the documents, rather than choosing the Email/Print option.


Using HTML in the Body


You can actually send the body of the email as HTML, if you are very familiar with it, by having "<html>" (without the quotes) as the very first thing in the body, and ending it with "</html>". Of course, other appropriate changes have to be made to make it valid HTML that will display well, and you need to be cautious with what HTML elements you use, because not all email programs and devices display complex HTML well.


As soon as you prefix the body text with "<html>", a button appears saying Show HTML in Browser, right above the editing area for the body. Clicking that will display the body in your default web browser (such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome), so you can see how it looks. However, as mentioned above, complex HTML may look fine in your web browser may not come out well in all email programs.


See the Help topic HTML in Emails to Donors for some very simple examples and instruction.


Warning about being classified as a SPAMmer!


If you have very large numbers of donors with email addresses that you send receipts or statements to, it is possible that either your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the ISPs of the recipients of your emailed receipts or statements will classify you as a spammer, when you send lots of emails very quickly as the program can do. This is a general problem with sending large numbers of mass emails, and is very hard to work around.


Adding an optional attachment, in addition the automatic attachment for the receipt, letter or statement, may slightly increase the likelihood of being classified as a spammer.


It is impossible to give a specific number of emails at which this might start being a problem. In our experience sending emails to the users of the DONATION program, We started observing the problem when we had a few thousand users. But we would guess that the problem could start when you email quickly to as few as a hundred donors.


There is unfortunately no simple way to get around this problem. (We get around it for our communication with our customers by using a commercial mass email sending service, that works closely with all ISPs to ensure that their emails are not classed as SPAM. But there is no way to use an email-sending service to send the emails containing a different receipt or statement for each donor.) So, if you do have very large numbers of donors with email addresses, you may want to think carefully about whether or not to use this feature for emailing receipts or statements from within DONATION.


One thing that might help would be to email the receipts or statements in smaller batches, and only do a certain number per day. The program will only generate receipts in batches of 500 anyways, so you might do one of those batches per day, when you are generating the year-end receipts. We cannot in any way guarantee that this will prevent you from being classified as a spammer, but it makes sense that it might help.


It's also possible that your ISP will restrict you to sending a certain number of emails per day, or a certain number within a given period of time (like an hour), even though they aren't classifying you as a spammer for trying to exceed that.


If you do have large numbers of donors with email addresses, one thing you could do is to talk to your ISP about their sending limits for emails with attachments. Ask what quantities per day or hour you need to limit yourself to, to prevent your ISP classifying you as a spammer, and adjust your email sending of receipts accordingly.


We should also mention that we have been told that sending HTML emails without an included plain-text version is more likely to trigger SPAM detection on the part of your recipients than plain-text emails. To help prevent that, the program converts the HTML version to plain-text version, and includes both. (Only one will be shown when recipients view the email, usually the HTML version, unless the recipient has configured their email program to never show HTML emails.)


Handling halts in the emailing


If your Internet Service Provider, through which you are sending the emails, immediately reports back to the email software used by DONATION that one of the email addresses you are sending to is invalid, you will get an error message and the process will halt. If you are doing a mass email, this could be a problem, because you need to fix it (if possible) and resume sending later at the same or following email.


So the first thing you do is exit the statement or receipt window, and fix that email address on DONATION's main window, or remove the email address. Then recreate the mail merge or report that you want to send by email.


If it was a mail merge that you were trying to email, created with the Letters Mass Mailing menu option, use the checkbox in section 2 of the Merge Letters window to Filter the data before merging it. After clicking Merge, check the sort order in the displayed data (it will usually be by last name then first name), and devise a filter to resume at the desired person. (See Filtering Reports for details.) For instance, to resume at "Cooperstock, Dan", use the following filter conditions:







Greater Than or Equal To




That works if there was only one Cooperstock, or none with first names alphabetically before "Dan". Otherwise, if there was another Cooperstock with a first name before "Dan", that you wanted to exclude, you could have to use an Advanced Filter, with the following expression:


 lastname > "Cooperstock" or (lastname = "Cooperstock" and firstname >= "Dan")


Click OK in the Filter window to display just those donors that satisfy the Filter condition, then click OK in that data viewing window to do the merge. You can then resume emailing.


The approach with something that isn't a mail merge is basically the same - the Statement reports are also in order by last name then first name, so you can use the same sort of Filter. And receipts are usually ordered by receipt number, so if you are using say Receipt ⇒ Reprint Range, just specify a range of receipt numbers that starts at the correct point.


Emailing receipts or statements only to yourself, for testing


You should probably test this feature for emailing receipts or statements out first, before actually emailing them to the donors. To do that, go to the Maintenance ⇒ Receipt Options window, and check the "Email receipts, letters and statements only to yourself, for testing" checkbox. Having done that, create (or recreate) your receipts, letters or statements, and select the Email/Print button or toolbar icon on the window they come up in. All displayed receipts or statements for donors that have email addresses will be emailed to your own email address (as set in Maintenance ⇒ Email Sending Configuration) rather than to the donors' actual email addresses. (However, they will say they were sent to the donor's name, to help you identify who would have gotten what if you weren't using this option.)


When you are doing this for testing, if the Email and Printing Options window displayed above comes up, you will probably want to select the 2nd option, "Send the ones that have email addresses by email, and ignore the rest", to avoid wasting paper printing any others. (Of course, if you do want to see the others printed, you can certainly select a different option!)


Sample receipts are also always only emailed to yourself.


Concerns for Canadian Users


In the Canada Revenue Agency's page on Computer-generated Receipts, there is some discussion of sending receipts by email. Here are the most relevant sections:

9. Registered charities sending official donation receipts by e-mail on the Internet should ensure that the receipts are in read only or non-editable format. The recipient donor should only be able to read and print the receipt. The intent is to safeguard registered charities against fraud, for example, by preventing a donor from changing the amount on the receipt.

10. Computer software is available for registered charities to protect their receipts from hackers during the transmission. Charities can use a secure electronic signature, which means that the document is encrypted and signed with an electronic signature such as entrust technology. The receipt would then be generally safe from outside hackers or the recipient would know if someone had altered the contents of the receipt that was sent. The use of the secure electronic signature should be kept under the control of a responsible individual authorized by the registered charity.


PDF files are generally considered to be read-only, and DONATION does encrypt the PDF receipts and reports it creates, which means that although they can be read by the recipients without knowing any password, they cannot be modified in any way unless you know the password, which we do not give out!


However, we do not currently protect PDF receipts with a secure electronic signature, which would verify that they had not been tampered with in any way. (This is a different issue from the bitmap signature that you add to the receipts, which is also required.) Fortunately, the CRA's point (10) above only says that charities "can" do this, it does not make it mandatory.


This topic was last edited on Aug 4, 2020