CMS Contributions - How Can I Create Personalized Pledge Thank You/Confirmation Letters?

After entering from the Pledge Cards in the Quick Pledge or Quick Next Year Pledge Entry screen, you may want to send out letters confirming each member's pledge.

This will not only remind your member of their pledge, but it will pick up any entry errors that may have been made, allowing you to correct them right away!

From your CMS Contribution System, click Process | Merge/Export File | New Report | give it a name, such as Pledge Data or Next Year's Pledge Data and click OK.

At the Merge File Selection Screen, click the Contrib/Pledge Selections button located on the left side of the screen.

Click the down arrow at Data Selection Field #1 and choose Response Date (for current year pledges) or Next Year Response Date (for next year's pledges).

REMEMBER: When you're entering your pledges/next year pledges into the system, the Response Date is the date you are entering the pledge cards!

Also, click the diamond next to All Persons in the Database, to pick up anyone who may not be a current year contributor, but who has turned in a pledge card for next year. Click OK.

Click the Specify Additional Contribution Fields button located on the right side of the display.

You'll want to take a look at your letter to determine exactly which fields of information you want in the body of the letter. For example, if you wan the pledge confirmation line to read...

"Thank you for your Weekly pledge of $10.00 totaling $520.00"

Then you'll need to select the Pledge Type/Next Year Pledge Type (Weekly, Monthly, Yearly, Fixed, etc.), the Pledge Amount/Next Year Pledge Amount (how much per Week, Month, Year, etc.), and the Total Pledge/Next Year Total Pledge (the pledge type times the pledge amount equals the total pledge).

You may even choose to select the Initial Pledge/Next Year Initial Pledge if your church uses that field.

  • Click the down arrow at Column 1 and choose Pledge Type/Next Year Pledge Type and choose your Fund.
  • Click the down arrow at Column 2 and choose Pledge Amount/Next Year Pledge Amount and choose your Fund.
  • Click the down arrow at Column 3 and choose Total Pledge/Next Year Total Pledge and choose your Fund.
  • Click the down arrow at Column 4 and choose Initial Pledge/Next Year Initial Pledge and choose your Fund. Click OK.

Click the checkbox at Field Names in First Record, located in the lower left side of the display.

Click into the File Destination in the upper left corner of the screen. This is where your data will go!

CMS will produce a comma separated value or CSV file that most Word Processing applications accept when doing a mail merge!

Change the File Destination to

C:\CMS4WIN\PLEDGE.CSV

If you are on a network your CMS4WIN folder may be located on a drive other than drive C:, so you can leave it at the default drive letter and folder name provided.

Or, if your CMS is located on one computer, and your word processing application is located on another computer (or if you're handing this disk off to someone else!), you may want to insert a blank diskette or jump drive and change the file destination to:

A:\PLEDGE.CSV

Click the Output File button on the right side of the screen. This will create the data file.

Once complete, exit out of CMS and open Microsoft Word.

If you have already typed the letter, open that letter. If you have not yet typed the letter, open a new, blank document. This sample will start from a new, blank document.

From the pull down menu at the top of the screen, click Tools | Letters and Mailings | Mail Merge.

This will display a Mail Merge Helper on the side of the screen that will guide you through the step to mail merge the letter.

At Step 1 of 6, Select Document Type, choose Letter. Click the Next link at the bottom of the display.

At Step 2 of 6, Select Starting Document, choose Use the Current Document. Click the Next link at the bottom of the display.

At Step 3 of 6, Select Recipients, choose Use an Existing List. Then click the Browse link.

This is where you'll need to refer to the File Destination from your CMS Merge/Export File. You'll need to find where your data is located. In our example, the File Destination was C:\CMS4WIN\PLEDGE.CSV.

Click the down arrow at Look In: [My Data Sources] and select the C: drive or network drive letter and select the CMS4WIN folder.

Click the down arrow at Files of Type and choose Text Files.

Select the PLEDGE.CSV file (or whatever file name you may have used if you redirected/renamed the export file).

From the Mail Merge Recipients listing display, click OK.

Click Next at the bottom of the display.

At Step 4 of 6, Write Your Letter, you'll need to prepare the letter. Click File | Page Setup and adjust your top and left margins for your letterhead, just as you would a normal letter. Click OK.

Type in the Date of the letter and position your cursor under the date where you want the Recipient's Address line to print.

Click the Address Block link.

Click the Match Fields button in the lower left corner of that display.

As Microsoft Word does not uses slightly different phrasing than CMS, you will need to match the fields as follows:

  • Click the down arrow at First Name and choose Statement Name.
  • Click the down arrow at Company and choose Special Address.
  • Click the down arrow at Address 1 and choose Delivery Address.

Click OK | OK.

The Address Block should now be inserted on your letter.

Press your Enter Key to position your cursor where you want the Salutation to print on the letter.

Click the More Items link.

Highlight Salutation and click Insert. Click Close.

Type a comma or semi-colon after the salutation.

Begin to type the letter as normal, and when you get to the point in your letter when you want to insert the pledge information, click the More Fields link on the left side of the screen.

Insert the appropriate pledge fields for your letter. For example, you may want the letter to read:

Thank you for your «Pledge_Type» pledge of «Pledge_Amount» totaling «Total_Pledge».

You can also control the format of the dollar amounts. Right-click the «Pledge_Amount» and choose Toggle Field Codes.

And it will change the appearance of that merge field:

Position your cursor after the quote marks at the end of the word Amount, but before the bracket, and type:

\# $###,###.00

then right click and choose Toggle Field Codes to return to the Merge Field.

Repeat this process with the Total Pledge field.

Finish typing your letter.

Click Next at the bottom of the display.

At Step 5 of 6, Preview Your Letter, you should be able to view the results of the letter with each person's data merged into the letter!

You can click the arrows to scroll through the recipients to double check your merged letter.

Ensure that the letter's appearance is just how you want it to look, then click File | Save.

You'll want to save the Pre-Merged Letter, or the letter before you actually merge it to a new document or printer. If you do, then you'll be able to re-use this merge for next week's batch of pledge cards!

Click Next.

At Step 6 of 6, you can choose to either load up your printer with letterhead and choose Print or click the Edit Individual Letters and allow Word to create a single document with as many pages as you have recipients! You can then edit the single letters as you need, or print page ranges, etc.

If you choose Edit Individual Letters, once you've made changes, or scrolled through the document to review for accuracy and are happy with the merge, load your printer with letterhead and click File | Print!

NEXT WEEK

If you have more pledge cards coming in the following week, be sure to enter the Response Date (the date you're entering the pledge cards) as you enter them into the CMS Contribution System.

From CMS Contribution, click Process | Merge/Export File | and select the Pledge Data or Next Year's Pledge Data merge process you created previously.

Click the Contrib/Pledge Selections button on the left and change the Response Date to this week's date or date range. Click OK.

Click the Output File button on the right side of the screen.

The system will ask if you want to replace the existing file, answer Yes.

Exit out of CMS and open the Pre-Merged Pledge Letter you saved last week.

Word will inform you that a SQL command will be run when you open the merge document, and ask if you want to continue. Answer Yes.

Click Tools | Letters and Mailings | Mail Merge Wizard.

You can click Next and repeat Steps 5 (Preview your letters) and 6 (Complete the Merge) to complete the merge.

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