Generating Receipts Using Mail Merge

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Generating Receipts Using Mail Merge

While many users may find it extremely helpful to print thank-you letters etc. with the Letters menu options, another common use of DONATION's mail merge features will be to alter or add to the text or change the formatting of the Receipts, to be different from from the built-in one provided in DONATION. Using mail merge receipts also gives you more flexibility on the size and shape of any Logo image you want to add to the receipt.


There are several training videos on Mail Merge letters and receipts on the Demos and Samples web page, if you would prefer to see these features demonstrated live, rather than reading about them.


You can easily use mail merge to completely replace the normal generation of receipts with the options on the Receipt menu. If you want this to happen, go to the Maintenance ⇒ Receipt Options window, and check the "Create Receipts via mail merge instead of normal report method" checkbox.


IMPORTANT: If you check this, please also read the Help page on Generating Charitable Receipts for all of the basic information on creating receipts, almost all of which also applies to the mail merge receipts.


After checking that checkbox, the normal receipt generation using all Receipt menu options, like Receipt ⇒ Current Donor Original and Receipt ⇒ All Donors, will use the mail-merge version of the receipt. And you can edit the mail merge receipt template with buttons on that same Receipt Options window.


Whether or not you check that "Create Receipts via mail merge instead of normal report method" checkbox, you can always reprint receipts that were generated using the Receipt menu options by using the Letters menu options. However, the more common and flexible way of reprinting receipts (as opposed to using the Letters menu options) is to check the Receipt Options checkbox mentioned above and then use the Receipt ⇒ Reprint Range menu option.


You might also want to use the mail merge options on the Letters menu to create cover letters for receipts that you printed with the standard Receipt menu options. Or, if you are using mail merge receipts and want a cover letter to always be included with the receipt, add that cover letter in at the top of the mail-merge receipt template, most likely with a page break in between them.


All of the information given in the help pages on Creating Letters for One Donor and Creating Mass Mailings applies to creating mail-merged receipts. Please read those sections carefully before proceeding. You can use Letters ⇒ One Letter to reprint one receipt at a time, or Letters ⇒ Mass Mailing to reprint receipts for a range of receipt numbers.


The sample mail merge receipts provided with the program are generally close imitations of the built-in receipt formats. There is one for every type of receipt that you can select via the Receipt Style / Location options in Maintenance ⇒ Receipt Options (Canada, Quebec bilingual, Quebec French only, U.S.A., Australia DGR, Australia non-DGR, New Zealand and Other). If you leave the checkbox in the Letters menu option you are using checked for using the standard names for the Letter, the correct receipt mail-merge files for each of those locations are selected automatically. (And those standard names are always used if you select "Create Receipts via mail merge instead of normal report method" and then use the Receipt menu options to create the receipts.) However, you should definitely edit the sample receipt template letters the first time you use them, to confirm that you like the formatting, or to change them as desired.


All of the sample receipts include any logo bitmap specified in the Logos and Signatures window, in the top-right corner of the receipt. They also include any bitmap version of your signature specified in that window, above the signature line. You do have to either manually sign your receipts, or include a graphic file with the signature.


The Canadian (including Quebec) versions of the sample receipts (receipts_merge_canada, receipts_merge_french, and receipts_merge_bilingual) all potentially include three amount lines, for the Total Amount of the donation, the amount of what is called the "advantage", and the Eligible Amount. This is to satisfy the Canada Revenue Agency's requirements on "split receipting", for donations where the donor receives something back in return (called an "advantage"), for instance like at a fundraising dinner. However, for receipts where there as no advantage, only the row for eligible amount of the donation will be shown.


In the less common case where your organization generates a receipt for each individual donation (rather than having receipts that include multiple donations), it is also possible to use the "Donation Information only" option in Letters ⇒ One Letter to generate a mail-merged replica of an existing receipt. The advantage of this over using the "Receipt Information" option is that you can also print the donation's Category, Cheque No / Paid By, and Description fields on the main part of the receipt, not just in the Details Table. Several of the fields from the receipt (Receipt Number, Receipt Date, Receipt Type, and Signatory Name) are also included in the "Current Donation Information" option in order to make this work. This may be a good option for specialized receipts such as ones for Gifts In Kind, where the Description is important. (But see the section on Handling Gifts in Kind, and the paragraph below, for a better way to do this for Canadian users.) You could also use it in other cases where you wanted to print the Description, such as in-memoriam donations (with a description such as "In memory of my dear friend, Jim Smith"). At this point, however, no sample letters like this are provided, so you will have to create them.


It might also be possible to do the same thing using the "Individual Donations Information" option in Letters ⇒ Mass Mailing, though it might be more complicated in that option to make sure that only the right receipts (and no duplicates) were being generated. (You would probably have to use an appropriate Filter to restrict the letters being generated.)


If you are in Canada, then the separate gift in kind receipts that you generate with the Receipt ⇒ Gift in Kind Receipts sub-menu option can also be created via mail-merge, because there are special versions of the mail-merge letters for that as well.


Warning about Editing Mail-Merge Receipts before Emailing


You can email mail-merge receipts to donors with email address, with the File Email/Print menu option or corresponding toolbar button, after they are displayed.


If you are sending receipts by email 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 receipts.)


The reason there is no point in doing that is that the program re-generates each mail-merged receipt 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 receipt template (if they apply to all donors), or only generate one donor's receipt 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 receipts, rather than choosing the Email/Print option.


Warning about Ways of Printing Mail-Merge Receipts


In general, whether you are using the mail-merge or the built-in receipts, a receipt gets saved back to the database if you print it, save it to PDF, or email it. If you don't do any of those, then when you exit the window displaying the receipt, you get a message explaining that the receipt won't be saved back to the database.


Unfortunately, there are two ways of printing mail-merge receipts that the program cannot know means they were printed, so if you use those ways, the receipt won't get saved when you exit the window. This is something we have no way to fix because of the technology being used for mail-merging.


The first way is if you press Ctrl+P to print, rather than using the File Print menu option, the Print toolbar button, or Alt+P, all of which are fine. So please do not print mail-merge receipts with Ctrl+P.


The second way is if you use File Print Preview, then Print from within the window that comes up. So again, while you can use Print Preview if you want to see what the receipt will look like printed, please do not print from that preview window. Exit the preview window, then print normally.


Adding a Letter Before or After the Receipt


Here are some instructions if you wish to add a letter with mail-merge fields in it to your mail-merge receipt, rather than just some additional text on the same page as the receipt. Most of the steps are in order to get a basic letter template, copied from the Donor Information Only letter, as a start to your letter.


If you do not need mail-merge fields in the document you want to add to your receipt, you may not want to choose this method. For instance, suppose what you want to add is a fixed document, such as an annual report. Instead, you could attach that as a PDF file as an Optional Attachment if you are emailing the receipts, and print it separately and include it in the envelopes if you are printing and mailing the receipts normally.


Note: There is also a quick video demo of adding a letter to a mail-merge receipt template on the Demos and Samples page on the website.


1.Make sure you have set up to use mail-merge receipts, as explained above.

2.Go to Letters ⇒ One Letter. In section 1 check “Donor Information Only”, make sure the checkbox in section 2 for “I want to use the standard names …” is checked, then click the Edit button.

3.If there are any images (such as a logo or signature) in that letter, click them to select them, then press Del or Backspace to delete them. (This avoids problems later. The images can be re-inserted into the receipt with appropriate Insert menu options.)

4.In the editor that comes up, press Ctrl+A, which highlights everything, then Ctrl+C which copies that all to the Windows Clipboard. (You won’t see anything happen when you press Ctrl+C.)

5.Close that editor window. If it prompts you to save changes, don't save.

6.Back in the Merge One Letter window, change section 1 to check “Selected Receipt information”, then click Edit again.

7.In the editor, use either Insert ⇒ Page Break ⇒ At Start of Document (if you want the letter to precede the receipt, which we think is most likely) or Insert ⇒ Page Break ⇒ At End of Document (if you want the letter to follow the receipt).

8.It will have put in the page break plus “(Insert text for new page here.)”, already highlighted. Use the menu option Edit ⇒ Paste (do not use Ctrl+V) to replace it with the text of the Donor letter, that you copied to the clipboard, in its place.
If the pasted in letter contents included any images, they will be removed and replaced with "IMAGE REMOVED", because they would crash the program. A message will explain that you can re-insert those images with an appropriate Insert menu option.

9.Edit that letter that you pasted in as desired - it will only have had sample text that we provided, unless you had already customized that donor letter. You can insert any additional merge fields you want into the letter, with the drop-down list of fields above the editing area and the Insert button beside it. (Some fields in our sample Donor letter probably aren’t in the list of receipt merge fields, specifically «TotalAmount», «LastYearAmount» and «PledgeAmount», so you would have to remove them.)

10.Save the change, exit the editor window, and exit the Merge One Letter window.

11.Try it out with Receipt ⇒ Current Donor Sample. If further edits are desired after you see how it looks, you can most easily get back to the editor for the receipt by using the Maintenance ⇒ Receipt Options window, using its Edit Mail Merge Receipt button.


12.If you are in Canada, there are four variations of the mail-merge receipt, for donations with and without Advantage, and for "cash" gifts versus Gifts in Kind. You will have to make the same edits to all of them, if you want the same letter included with them. They can all be accessed from the options on the Maintenance ⇒ Receipt Options window.


Generating Receipts with Multiple Mail-Merge Template Files


Some users will have multiple mail-merge template files (created in the Letters ⇒ One Letter window or Letters ⇒ Mass Mailing window, with the Advanced features there) for use for different fundraising events or for other similar reasons. However, you cannot directly create receipts with anything other than your standard-named receipt template (for instance receipts_merge_canada for Canadian users' non-Gift in Kind receipts). You can see what the standard template is by going to one of those windows, selecting Receipt Information in section 1, and being sure the "I want to use standard names ..." checkbox is checked in the section where the template name is displayed.


To print, save to PDF, or email receipts using an additional template that you have created with a different name, you must follow these steps:


1.Use your desired Receipt menu option to generate whatever receipts you want. They will show up with the standard template.

2.Save what was generated to PDF with the Save PDF toolbar icon or menu option. (That causes the receipts to be saved back to the database – you don’t really need the PDF itself.)

3.Note the receipt number(s) you just generated, and exit the receipt display window.

4.Go to Letters Mass Mailing, pick Receipt Information in Section 1, make sure “I want to use standard names …” is unchecked in Section 4, and pick your desired template.

5.Click Merge, and when prompted, enter the range of receipt numbers you want to reprint (the ones you generated in the steps above).

6.Process those displayed receipts as desired (usually Print, or Email/Print).


This topic was last edited on Feb 17, 2023