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Article ID: KB329
Keyword Name: Email, Donations, Auto-Responder, Thank-You, Template, Merge
Created: February 24, 2017
Viewed: 2936

How to Create a Custom Thank-You Auto-Responder Email with Merge Fields for your Online Donation Form (which merge fields work and which don't)

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Author: Joel Kristenson

Last Updated: 2017-02-24


This article will show you how to create a custom thank-you auto-responder email for your online donation form.  It then shows how to activate the email within the Website Configuration are of the application.  This process can be repeated for the other iFrame forms and custom forms that you build with Trail Blazer. If you prefer video tutorials this link on our YouTube Channel provides a concise walk through on this task.


Navigate to the Templates List under the Application Menu.  Requires appropriate security clearance.

Click the [+ New] button on the search tool strip.

Give the template a name, and then click [Create]In my example I called my “Auto-Responder – Donation Thank-You”.

You have a couple of choices at this point you can either create your own template from scratch or choose from one of the Standard Trail Blazer templates.  In this example I opted for the 2nd option, to use one of the pre-built templates as a starting point, which already has the main merge fields needed for a donation thank-you email.

Click the File drop-down in the upper-left, and select Insert Trail Blazer standard template…

Select the template for online donations called “t_Online_Donation_TY_Auto-Responder_with_Supported_Merge_Fields”, and then click [Open].

Click [OK] when prompted about overwriting your current template.  (If you’re starting from scratch as I was you don’t need to worry about this warning, if you have unfinished work click [Cancel]).

This is what the standard auto-responder email template should look like when it’s first inserted:

You can now finish the email by completing these steps:

- Swap out images with your logo, header, footer, signature, and social media icons

- Swap out the default text, font styles, etc. to include your own message

- Replace any hyperlinks to things like your website, social media pages, etc.

Below is the list of merge fields that are currently supported in the thank-you auto-responder, as well as a list of those that are not supported (as of the time this article was written).

These merge fields work:

«MMMM dd, yyyy»

«Nick Name or FirstName»
«MMMM dd, yyyy»
«MM/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss»

These ones don't:

Household Salutation
Household Envelope

Once you are finished with your template click [Save and Close].

Now that your template is ready to go you’ll need to set it as your auto-responder and refresh your website settings.

Navigate to Website Configuration > Donations > Email Response, select your template from the drop-down, click [Save], and then click the blue link in the upper-right to refresh your settings.  The image below details these 4 steps.

You’ll receive a popup notification.  Click [OK] to proceed with the refresh of your web settings.

You’ll receive another popup message once this is finished.  Click [OK] again to close the message.

It’s wise to now test out your email to make sure everything is how you want it to be i.e. the merge fields work, there aren’t typos, the images/links work, etc.

You can navigate to your Trail Blazer donation form where it’s implanted as an iFrame on your website, or to the location where it’s hosted on our domain (  In my example it was hosted @ as shown in the images below for my test contribution.

Img 1 of 2 – Fill Out the Test Donation – Top Half of Form

Img 2 of 2 – Fill Out the Test Donation – Bottom Half of Form

Once you process your donation you’ll receive the thank-you auto-responder email.  My example is shown below in 3 images with the working merge fields as well as those that don’t work.

Img 1 of 3 – Top Half of My Example Auto-Responder

Img 2 of 3 – Top Half of My Example Auto-Responder

Img 3 of 3 – Top Half of My Example Auto-Responder

If you are satisfied with the results you are finished, otherwise you can return to the template to make your changes.  *If you need to make changes you’ll need to refresh your website configuration settings after those changes are made.

The related resources below link to a variety of articles and videos related to this topic.

Related Resources

Article: How to Configure Recurring Donation Options for your Trail Blazer Donation Form (must be using either Vanco Services or Authorize.Net as your Merchant Gateway

Article: How to Put your Trail Blazer Donation Form on your Facebook Page

Article: Linking your Website to your Database with Configurable iFrame Forms

Article: Build Your Own Custom Signup Form (Get)

Article: How to Create Custom Email Responders for Specific Events – New 2016 Feature Upgrade

Article: How to Access and Use the Standard Trail Blazer Templates as a Starting Point for Template Creation and Mass E-Mail Campaigns

Article: Configuring your From and Reply Email Address Settings

Article: Sample Get JavaScript Form to Get you Started – Trail Blazer API

Video: Iframes

Video: Donation Auto Responders with Merge Fields

Video: Eblasts Configure email settings before mass emailing

Video: Thank you’s using mass email

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