Volunteer Software

People Helping People

Word Letters and Envelopes


The Reporter enables you to print form letters for individual volunteers, stations, and jobs as well as for a group of each at one time. You create the form letters in Microsoft Word and then merge the data into the form letter automatically. You can also produce envelopes this way as well as any other document where only a single volunteer’s, station’s, or job’s information is printed on each page.

You design a letter in Word that contains your chosen layout and markers (merge codes) indicating where the names should appear. In the Reporter, you tell it to merge all the names (which can be filtered) into the letter you have designed. The Reporter then prepares a single letter for each record.

In the Reporter you can either prepare letters one at a time for any individual volunteer, station, or job by clicking on the Print button on the individual’s screen, or you can prepare a batch of letters at once from the Reports menu.

File Locations

Generally, just leave the file location alone—the Reporter knows where your data’s Shared Documents are saved. Because the Reporter and Word have to work together in order to produce these letters, they must agree on the location of the files that are to be shared between them. You may also want to share letters among users in your office, so the Reporter’s data location can be shared by everyone.

By default, the Reporter puts these files in a subfolder of your data folder called “Shared Documents.” For example, if your shared data is on drive F: in a folder called “F:\reporter\data”, these files will be in “F:\reporter\data\Shared Documents”. To see where your docs are saved, click on Help | About the Reporter.

Sample Templates

The Reporter supplies several sample letters and envelopes for you to study and experiment with. Find a sample that is close to what you want and then modify it. Remember to “Save As” a new document in order to preserve the original.

Your data’s actual names will be inserted by the Reporter, but in order for the data source substitution to work correctly, you must use the data source that we supply when you design your letter. You do not have to pay any attention to this if you are doing a letter from the Reporter’s sample templates, as described below. When designing a letter for volunteers, the Reporter uses the LetterVolunteerData.vrd file as a data source. It uses LetterStationData.vrd as a data source when designing letters for stations, and LetterJobData.vrd for jobs.

How to Create a Customized Letter

When you want to send a letter specific to Volunteers, Stations or Jobs, pay attention to opening Letters and Envelopes from the appropriate report section. This example starts with a letter to volunteers:
Reports | Volunteer Reports | Letters and Envelopes


1. Always start with one of our sample letters. It’s easier to remove unwanted text from a sample than to start from scratch. Highlight a sample letter on the Word Letters and Envelopes screen and click on Open for Editing in Word.


2. In Word, rename the sample to become your own letter. Click on File | Save As and give it a new name without the word Sample in the name. (This is to save the samples for other uses.) It must remain in the Shared Documents folder, so leave that default location as-is. Leave the extension as .doc. Close Word.

3. Back at the Word Letters and Envelopes screen, click Add.

  • In the Actual File Name field, click the yellow Browse button. Find and select your newly named document.
  • Type a descriptive name, be sure it doesn’t say “Sample.”
  • Click OK.


4. Highlight your new letter on the Word Letters and Envelopes list and click Open for editing in Word.


5. Now you will make this new template your own. Change the letter to suit your own needs. [Editing Tips] Remove the sample text and insert your own. Start at the top and include your header, either typed/pasted or inserted as an image or both. Here’s the sample text from the Sample New Volunteer Letter:

Use this read-only document as a starting point,
make changes, and then "Save As" a new document. 
Use LetterVolunteerData.vrd (in the Volunteer Reporter's
Shared Documents folder) as the data source.

February 26, 2013


Dear <<First>>,

Welcome to the Volunteer Center of Metropolis!

We're so glad you've joined our community of volunteers. 
Just like you, we're all dedicated to improving our
neighborhoods, city, and county through service to others.

Please check the information we have on file and let us know 
if any of it is incorrect.

Home Phone: <<PhHm>>
Work Phone: <<PhWk>>
Other Phone: <<PhOth>>
Email: <<Email>>

I've included an information packet to get you started as a new volunteer. 
Thanks again for joining us.


6. Insert merge fields in the appropriate locations. They can be cut and pasted or deleted within the document. In most versions of Word, click on the tool button to Insert Merge Fields for additional fields not provided in the template.

The merge fields are enclosed by double brackets <<…>>. These cannot be typed—they must be entered from the dropdown Insert Merge Fields list.


Insert Merge Fields in Word 2003


Insert Merge Fields in Word 2007

7. Test a preview merge of your letter with sample data. Click on the <<ABC>> Preview Results toolbutton.


Preview Results in Word 2007. In Word’s toolbar the <<ABC>> button lets you see how the merge works, but it’s with sample data.

8. Save your new letter and exit Word.

9. View your finished letter. In the Word Letters and Envelopes screen, click on View to open Word with your own data merged with your new letter.


Editing Tips

  • Any Word editing features will work as long as the merge fields are inserted properly.
  • Paste in paragraphs from another Word letter.
  • Reset the margins or font.
  • Insert an image into the header.
  • Directly type a footer or header (there’s no need to use Word’s header and footer features).
  • Move merge fields around or punctuate them.
  • If text from another letter is giving you formatting problems, try pasting it into a simple text editor like NotePad first to strip out hidden codes. Then copy and paste the text again from there into the template.

Starting from a Prewritten Letter

If you already have a precisely written and formatted letter, you can add that into the Word Letters and Envelopes list and manually insert merge fields into it.

  • Save the letter into your shared documents folder inside the data folder, probably on the server. (Find that path in Help | About the Volunteer Reporter).
  • In the Word Letters and Envelopes screen, Add your letter to the list as described above.
  • Open the letter for editing in Word and Insert Merge Fields in the appropriate locations in your letter as described above.
  • Save and proceed just as with a template begun with a Reporter sample letter.