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Author: Joel Kristenson
Last Updated: 2015-12-14
Learn the basics to write a letter in Trail Blazer using merge fields, images, adjust margins, and save the template in the ‘cloud’ for future use. In the Related Resources section at the bottom there are a variety of other articles and videos that will help get you up to speed on utilizing the word processing features in your database.
Tip: This task is covered in-depth in our free introduction training class that’s offered twice a week. If you haven’t had a chance to attend it you can view the upcoming dates, and register here.
1. Navigate to the list you’re going to write the letter from. In this example I used the Contacts (Voters/Donors) list, but you could just as well write a letter or access your templates from other lists such as the Thank-You Letter – Contributions list, Pledges, Contributions, as well as a few others.
2. Run a search query to pull up the list you want to send a letter to. In my example I queried for all individual donors who gave last year, but NOT yet this year (learn to create and save your own LYBUNT query). It returned 472 donor records.
3. Click the File drop-down > Communications > Write Letter
4. Select which preferences you would like for who the letter will be delivered to. In my example I selected to write the letter to each individual in the list.
· Combine by Household: Uses the previously defined Household linkage to combine. If no household linkage, creates SEPARATE records.
· Combine by Last Name and Home Address: Make a single record where last name AND address are the same.Would be used for “Smith Family” type letters.
· Combine by Home Address: Combines duplicate addresses into single record regardless of last name differences. Would be used for “Current Resident” type letters.
· Individual: Each record.
5. Click [OK] to proceed.
6. This will open the letter editor window. Trail Blazer currently uses an RTF editor for the word processor.
7. From here you can Load/Save a template, Insert Merge Fields (shown in the image below), and many other letter writing functions. We have a specific procedure for sending Contribution Thank-You letters that contain more merge fields that are specific to thanking someone for a donation – this video shows how to write that type of letter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj36El_dj00).
8. After you finish creating your letter template you can click [Print] from the bottom-right of the screen or from the task bar at the top. You can also adjust Page Settings and view a Print Preview. Detailed below.
9. Once the letter is complete, select File in the extreme upper-left, and Save as Template…
10. Here’s the text I used for my letter template, you can copy-and-paste this into your database as a starting point:
---COPY BELOW THIS LINE---
Demo Nonprofit Organization
620 Mendelssohn Avenue North
Golden Valley, MN, 55427-4350
«Home Address Block»
Thank you for your contribution of «Contribution Last Amount» on «Contribution Last Date».
Please keep this written acknowledgment of your donation for your tax records. Starting January 1, 1994, the IRS will no longer accept your canceled check as proof of any donation of $250 or more. Changes in tax law also require us to estimate the value of goods or services, if any, that have been rendered to you in return for your contribution, and to remind you that your contribution is deductible only to the extent that it exceeds what we have provided.
Thank you for your continuing support for our important work in this field!
Very truly yours,
Founder, of Organization
---COPY ABOVE THIS LINE---
11. Here’s a print preview of how this example letter would look:
12. That concludes the ‘simplified’ steps to create a letter template, and save it for future use. The Related Resources below link to a variety of other articles and videos on the letter writing features.
Article: Mail Merge – Write a Letter
Article: Printing Envelopes
Article: How to Track Soft Credits using Contribution Notifications – ONLY for Nonprofit Customers
Article: How to Print Mail-Merge Address Labels
Article: Managing Households – Creating, Deleting and Re-Creating
Video: Write Letter – Edit Letter after Mail Merge
Video: Year End Tax Letter
Video: Getting Started 107 – Writing Contribution Thank You Letters
Video: Thank A Person Once For Multiple Contributions
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