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Acknowledge a Donation

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Send donation acknowledgment messages via email.
  • Create printed donation acknowledgment letters.
  • Add custom follow-up activities and tasks for donations.

Donations can come from a variety of constituents, with ties to one or more of a nonprofit organization’s teams and departments, which is why it’s important for all team members across an organization to familiarize themselves with the process of donation acknowledgment. And, yes, if you’re thinking this process can also be the most time consuming, it can be, but it is also one of the most valuable things you can do to continue to build your relationship with a donor. Let's take a look at how Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) makes this process a little easier. 

Email an Acknowledgment for a Single Opportunity Record

NPSP includes a feature that helps you email an acknowledgement or thank you for an opportunity right from the app.

To start, go to the opportunity's detail page, and make sure the Primary Contact lookup field lists the appropriate contact. Then go to the actions menu, and select Email Acknowledgment.

The Opportunity Record, highlighting the Email Acknowledgement menu option and the Primary Contact field of Donation Information within the Record Details

Selecting the email acknowledgment action will:

  • Update the selected opportunity's Acknowledgment Status field to Email Acknowledgment Now.
  • Trigger an automation (what Salesforce calls a workflow rule) that will send the email. The workflow rule also updates the Acknowledgment Status and Acknowledgment Date fields for the opportunity.

Salesforce changes the Acknowledgment Status to Acknowledged for successful acknowledgments and also sets the Acknowledgment Date to the current date.

Opportunity Detail page highlighting Acknowledgement Status and Acknowledgement Date fields

Salesforce changes the Acknowledgment Status to Email Acknowledgment Not Sent to those records whose acknowledgments failed. Acknowledgments can fail for various reasons including no email address, bounced email, etc.

Your admin can set up and customize the email template used for these auto-generated emails. Check in with your admin to review the template.

Email Acknowledgments for Multiple Opportunity Records

NPSP also supports sending acknowledgement emails for multiple opportunity records at once. First, click on the Opportunities tab, and select the To Be Acknowledged list view. From the list, you can then select all opportunities using the checkbox on the header, or you can select specific opportunities. Last, click Email Acknowledgments.

Opportunity List View of Donations to be Acknowledged

Clicking the button will:

  • Update the selected opportunities' Acknowledgment Status field to Email Acknowledgment Now.
  • Trigger the workflow rule that will send the email. The workflow rule also updates the Acknowledgment Status and Acknowledgment Date fields for each Opportunity.

Clicking the button also displays the following page so that you know which acknowledgments were successfully sent, and which were not.

Email Acknowledgements Error page

Salesforce changes the Acknowledgment Status to Acknowledged for successful acknowledgments and also sets the Acknowledgment Date to the current date. Salesforce changes the Acknowledgment Status to Email Acknowledgment Not Sent to those records whose acknowledgments failed.

Create Printed Acknowledgment Letters

Sometimes email just isn't a good replacement for a letter with a hand-written note. There are several different ways to create printed donation acknowledgment letters using Salesforce and NPSP, but they require a bit of extra time (and sometimes money), depending on your needs.

Generally, we recommend using a document generation app from the AppExchange that can automate your acknowledgment process for single letters, batches of letters, and annual tax receipts. These apps have an additional cost, but many are discounted for nonprofits. Check with your admin to see if your organization is using an app for this purpose.

Another way to produce printed donation acknowledgment letters is to run a report and include the fields needed to do a mail merge using a word-processing application like Google Docs or Microsoft Word. To acknowledge gifts by households, for instance, you might run an opportunities report with the Primary Contact fields to use for your mail merge.

After you run the report in Salesforce, export the data to a spreadsheet and use that sheet as the data source for your mail merge.

Our NMH Development Associate Sofia, for instance, has a donation acknowledgment template set up as a Google Doc. 

  • If she has a single donation to acknowledge, she'll enter the values manually, print the letter and label, and individually update the Acknowledgment Status and Acknowledgment Date fields on the opportunity record.
  • If she has a large batch of donation acknowledgment letters to run, she exports her Opportunity with Contact Roles report for the batch of donations, then imports the spreadsheet into Google Sheets. She can then merge the data from her Google Sheet into her Google Doc and print the letters. Once she has printed the letters, she gives the report including the Opportunity ID, Acknowledgment Status, and Acknowledgment Date fields to her admin who can mass update the acknowledgment fields on the batch of opportunity records.

Follow-up Tasks and Activities

Sometimes you want to do more than just send a letter or email to thank a donor. Depending on your organizational best practices, you may want to create a task for another user at your organization (like your Executive Director) to call the donor and thank them personally or to do some other follow up task.

With a capital campaign pledge as large as the one NMH received from Jose Figueroa (remember that board member’s house party?), Sofia wants to create two tasks for her Executive Director. She'll create one task for her Executive Director to call and thank the donor directly and one to call and thank the board member who solicited the capital campaign gift.

Let's follow along as Sofia creates a follow-up task related to this specific donation:

1. Open the opportunity record to which the task should be connected.

2. In the Activity Composer on the opportunity record, click the New Task tab and enter:

  • Subject
  • Type
  • Due Date

The Related To field already has the opportunity record pre-selected. If you don't see the New Task tab, ask your admin to add it to the Quick Actions available on the opportunities object.

3. Select your colleague to whom the task should be assigned in the Assigned To field. In this case, Sofia chooses her Executive Director Kim Friedman.

Opportunity Detail page highlighting the Activity Timeline

4. Click Save. The Thank You Call task now shows in the Activity Timeline for this opportunity record under Next Steps.

The Next Steps in the Tasks list

Sofia's Executive Director will also see the tasks listed on her Tasks tab and receive alerts about the new tasks via her in-app notifications. And everyone on the team can see when the tasks were assigned and completed on the opportunity record.

The Notifications icon and list of new alerts

Creating a task is a simple way to manage a next step or action related to a donor or donation. In another module, we will dig deeper into how NPSP can help fundraisers at your organization manage donors as they move from cultivation to solicitation.

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