Generate and send customized year-end tax statements/receipts
In this article:
- Write your letter
- Build a search (e.g., for last year's donors)
- Create the mailing or email
- Using a total giving "Smart" field to generate a list of gifts in your mailing
- Choose label/envelope preferences
- Review, download, and print your mailing
- Mark the mailing "Sent"
- Watch a webinar on how to create a year-end tax statement/receipt
Sending year-end tax receipts and/or annual statements is a great way to both give your donors the information they need to file their taxes and simultaneously thank them again for their support. It's also an opportunity to let them know how they have helped your mission, which is critical for donor retention and just makes good sense.
You can create these year-end tax receipts, or annual statements, in LGL and then either mail or email them, according to your preference. In this article, we show you the process from beginning to end.
Is there a simple way to pull in every donor and prepare a mailing to some and an email to others?
Yes, there is a simple approach for when you just want to prepare a year-end tax statement (or annual gift statement) for every donor. Please see Quickly generate a simple annual gift statement in your account.
Write your letter
Here is an example of how your letter might look:
The key part of the letter is the merge tag of [[gifts.2020.list]], which pulls a full itemization of the gifts from the giving year—with dates, deductible amounts, and notes—into a list in the merged letter.
NOTES ABOUT USING MERGE FIELDS THAT RESULT IN A LIST
- The [[gifts.2020.list]] merge field will include in-kind gifts but will not show any amount (as it's a best practice for nonprofits not to provide a value, or deductible amount, for in-kind gifts). For in-kind gifts the table will, however, show the gift note for the in-kind gift, if there is a note.
- Any merge field resulting in a list must be placed on its own line in your letter content, without any additional text or spacing around it. (You can see this in the preceding screenshot of a sample tax statement letter, in the case of the merge field [[gifts.YYYY.list]].) Even one extra space on either side of the merge field in your letter content can cause an error in your mailing when the letters are merged.
Once you have the letter completed, save it to a folder location on your computer where you’ll easily be able to navigate to it, because you’ll soon upload it into the mailing you will create for your year-end tax statements.
Example letter in your account
In your LGL account, you can find an example template and letter all ready to go. Navigate to Mailings > Letter Templates, and then the Example tab:
This mailing template can be used as is, but you'll more likely want to customize the Word doc. You can download the file by clicking on the file name, and then upload the version that you updated and saved to your computer later, when you're creating a mailing. (FYI, you can create a template for your mailing first or simply upload the Word docx you created directly into the mailing itself.)
Your next step is to build a search in the Constituents tab that contains the constituents you would like to send the letter to.
Build a search (e.g., for last year's donors)
Begin by searching for “last year’s donors” in the Advanced Search area within the Constituents tab.* This search will pull in anyone who gave a gift "last year" (2020, in this case) with a gift type of “Gift” or “In Kind”.
* We are using the example of last year’s donors as the subset of your constituents who would typically receive a year-end tax statement, but you can search for whomever you would like to receive your year-end tax statements. If those you are targeting can’t be brought into a set of search results because they don’t specifically meet the search criteria, you can create a list of who does meet your criteria and then pull that list into your search.
Create the mailing or email
If the search results look right, click on either the Send mail or the Send email button in the upper right, depending on which type of communication you want to send:
If you clicked the Send mail button, you’ll be taken to the mailing builder, where you can set up the letter, pulling in the Word document letter or simple LGL letter you created, and saving it as a draft for review:
If you clicked the Send email button, you will be taken to the email builder, which allows you to create and send an email from within LGL:
Upload your Word letter file
To upload your Microsoft Word letter file into your mailing, click on the Upload new file button and browse for the file. Please be sure to leave the "Template" selection set to "Custom MS Word" if you are uploading a Word document as your letter template.
To see how your letter will look, click the Preview button. This will show you a preview of the first 5 letters in your mailing. If anything is amiss, you can revise the letter and then click the Preview button again to check the results of your revision. Lather, rinse, and repeat until the preview looks the way you want.
Write your simple LGL letter
If you are using a simple LGL letter, the data from your LGL database will be merged into the content in the Letter Content pane in the mailing builder to generate your letters.You can either use the example merge fields and content provided, or you can type your own. To add a merge field from the list provided to the right of the Letter Content pane, click on the name of the merge field:
You can also add a postscript to your letter by typing it into the [[ps_content]] merge field.
When you are using the Letter Content and P.S. Content panes to draft your letter, please leave the Microsoft Word file named basic_word_template attached within your mailing (it is there by default), because this document is the mechanism by which the contents of your Letter Content and P.S. Content windows are merged into your letter:
If you use this method, you will also need to set your template to "Custom LGL (PDF)", so that LGL knows to populate your letter with content from the [[letter_content]] and/or the [[ps_content]] merge fields.
Preview your letter
To see how your letter will look, click the Preview button. This will show you a preview of the first 5 letters in your mailing. If anything is amiss, you can revise the letter and then click the Preview button again. Lather, rinse, and repeat until it looks the way you want.
Using a total giving "Smart" field to generate a list of gifts in your mailing
If you create a total giving "Smart" field, your Merge Field Reference will provide a merge field you can use that will display a list of those gifts in a mailing.
First create your total giving "Smart" field. Then go to your Merge Field Reference and scroll down to the "Smart Fields" section. The merge field will be available there.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Smart field lists require that you include at least one additional column. For example, you could add a column for deductible amount, so your merge field looks like this:
You can configure your preferences for labels and envelopes here:
You will need to choose which template to use for either labels or envelopes. You can preview and customize from here as well:
Then click Next to name your mailing and configure the settings for your mailing, if needed.
Review, download, and print your mailing
This step gives you the opportunity to review the details of your mailing. If any time has passed between the creation of the mailing and sending it, you can click the Refresh button to make sure all constituents are brought into the recipients list. This is in case there have been updates in your data that have caused more constituents to have the status of needing the year-end tax letter.
You can also make sure you have the correct templates (if you’re using templates for your letter, labels, or envelopes) or Word letters attached, and you can confirm that the address block is correct. You can also see if any of the constituents in your search are being excluded (due to communication tags applied in their constituent records or invalid mailing addresses):
From this page, you can also download your letters and your envelopes or templates and print them, by clicking the applicable Download All buttons.
NOTE: If your mailing has more than 50 recipients, a Generate All button will appear in place of the Download All button. Click the Generate All button and then the Download All button when it appears. This will download the files to your computer, where you can open them in Word and print them, just like you would print any other Word document.
The final result should look something like this:
You will want to make sure you download all the files you need for the mailing (letters, labels, and/or envelopes).
Mark the mailing "Sent"
Once your letters are ready to go out the door, you can mark the mailing as "Sent" to archive it and ensure that the mailing is noted in each constituent’s record who received it:
Watch a webinar on how to create a year-end tax statement/receipt
This video demonstrates how to generate year end tax receipts from LGL. (8:42)