You can use data in your CiviCRM database to set up mail merge communications both for emails and printed materials such as letters and mailing labels. The mail merging functionality relies on Tokens which represent items in your database. This chapter explains how tokens work and how to use them in generating printing materials. Using tokens in emails and mass mailings is covered in the Email section.
Tokens perform the equivalent of mail merge in CiviCRM. This means that it is possible to insert information from the database into an email or a letter that is different for every recipient. Tokens are accessible via the Insert Token link in the top right corner of the message editing area.
Most of the tokens contain information that is in the database fields. However, there are some special tokens that accomplish specific tasks such as a link to an optout page or link to choose mail formats. Some tokens are only available for mass mailings such as the token to provide a link to a message stored online.
Only contact fields and actions can be inserted in your email as tokens. Related records, such as the name of the event for which the contacts have pending enrollments, cannot be included. However, in emails, you could provide a link to the person's contact dashboard so that they can review their registration details for themselves (once logged in). In emails, you can also use a checksum token that generates a unique URL for each contact so they can modify their information without having to login.
See here for details on using Checksums: http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRMDOC/Mail-merge+Tokens+for+Contact+Data
It is also possible to have custom tokens created by a developer. For instance, the total amount of contributions from a contact. To find out more about working with custom tokens, refer to the discussion about custom mail merge tokens in the Hooks chapter of the Extending CiviCRM section of this book and look at the wiki: http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRMDOC/Mail-merge+Tokens+for+Contact+Data.Another task for a developer is to create if/then logic for your mail merge. This is done using the smarty template language as described here http://www.smarty.net/docs/en/language.function.if.tpl.
This chapter discusses the different ways that CiviCRM helps with postal mail and post mail campaigns. It will help if you already have a strong understanding of CiviCRM's search features as well as custom fields, activities, profiles, and how to perform mail merges using word processing software.
Before beginning any communication activity, take the time to identify your goals and plan the steps. For our purposes, there are a few key questions to ask before sending out postal mailings.
There are three ways that you can use CiviCRM in postal mailings:
Many nonprofit organisations in the USA need to sort recipients of a mailing based on zip code for bulk mailing purposes. If this is true for your organisation, it is recommended that you create your mailing labels using a word processor where you can control the sort order, rather than in CiviCRM. You can reuse the same spreadsheet for your mail merge.
You can set a specific postal greeting format for each contact. There are several options from the friendly "Dear John", to more formal "Dear Mr. John Doe". You can also enter a customized greeting ("Your royal highness"). Postal greetings can be edited in the Communications Preferences section of the contact edit form. If you need to set or reset postal greetings en mass, refer to the Command Line Script Configuration documentation:
The workflow is to first select the group you want to target, then choose the action "Print PDF letter" from the dropdown menu. The letters will then be outputted as a PDF, allowing you to easily print them.
To create the letter:
You can use this feature for any kind of document, not only letters. For example, you could use it to print attendance certificates for a workshop.
Generating mailing labels is a very easy and useful function.
This last option is very useful when sending a mailing to a households or organisations where you don't want them to receive duplicate mailings. When the records are merged, each name at that address is listed on a separate line on the label.
Your system administrator can configure the fields included in mailing labels. Read the information on configuring address settings in the Contacts chapter to learn more about the options.
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