The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) has established guidelines based on best practices to help WFAA staff and campus partners consistently and promptly acknowledge gifts and pledges. This document provides an overview of the procedures and instructions for viewing and recording acknowledgment activity in ABE, the alumni and donor database of record for the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Such information is confidential and may only be used in accordance with WFAA’s polices, including its data disclosure and confidentiality policies.
Thanking our donors for their generosity to the university is an essential component in the advancement cycle. The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) has established guidelines based on best practices to help WFAA staff and campus partners consistently and promptly acknowledge gifts and pledges. This document provides an overview of the procedures and instructions for viewing and recording acknowledgment activity in ABE, the alumni and donor database of record for the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Best practice recommendations are that pledge initiations and final pledge payments be acknowledged as well as outright gifts.
Types of Acknowledgment
Our gift acknowledgment policies indicate various activities based on the amount of the individual gift or pledge. Broadly, donations over $1,000 should receive at least one acknowledgment beyond the standard gift receipt. In the case of larger gifts, multiple acknowledgments should be completed, including those from the chancellor’s office and WFAA executive leadership.
|Other School/College Unit Leadership||Associate or assistant deans (often advancement leadership in the unit)|
|Faculty/Chair/Director||Faculty or department/center leadership|
|Coach/Celebrity/Spokesperson||When a thank-you is being sent by someone who agreed to lend their celebrity to a fundraising effort. Examples on campus may be Andy North or Coach Gard.|
|DoD||Development officers or related development team members|
|First-Time Donor Acknowledgment||Unit acknowledgment for first-time donors to their area|
|WFAA First-Time Donor Packet||Sent out centrally from WFAA to first-time donors|
|Physician/Caregiver||Medical and hospital advancement use|
|Volunteer||Board of visitor or campaign committee member or other volunteers acknowledge specific gifts on behalf of the unit.|
Students enlisted by the unit to write acknowledgments for specific gifts
|General||Other general acknowledgments are sent on behalf of the school/college/unit and not a particular individual, such as postcards.|
Please see the Stewardship section for more information about acknowledgments.
Each acknowledgment is recorded in ABE on the related revenue (gift) record. The process flags the gift record as “acknowledged.” It records the acknowledgment as a “letter” on the revenue record and communication on the constituent record and any constituent record where soft credit is applied. This allows ABE users to view acknowledgment activity on a revenue record and the Communications tab of constituent records.
Acknowledgment Versus Receipting
In this document, “acknowledgment activity” refers to activity beyond the official tax receipt.
The standard gift receipt issued to the legal donor and their respective spouse for deductible gifts that mark gifts as “receipted” includes a statement of the gift’s eligibility and a signed thank-you message from Mike Knetter; a thank-you postcard (buck slip) is enclosed with the gift receipt, as well.
Confirmation and notification letters issued to the legal donor, their spouse, and soft credit constituents for nondeductible gifts that also mark a gift as “acknowledged” include a statement of the gift’s eligibility and a signed thank-you message from Mike Knetter; a thank you postcard (buck slip) is not enclosed, to help differentiate a gift receipt from a gift acknowledgment.
- Donor-advised fund gift confirmation letter
- Constituents with soft credit recognition receive this letter to confirm the processing of a gift received via their donor-advised fund organization (legal donor).
- Matching-gift confirmation letter
- Constituents with soft credit recognition receive this letter to confirm the processing of a gift received via a matching gift organization (the legal donor with Matching Company recognition).
- A matching gift request must be submitted before Gift Services.
- Athletics priority seating acknowledgment
- Constituents with soft credit recognition receive this letter to confirm the processing of a gift designated to an Athletics Priority Seating fund.
- Revocation letter
- A constituent that is the legal donor receives this letter to revoke an originally issued gift receipt due to a refunded or partially refunded tax-deductible gift.
- Tribute letter
- Constituents (acknowledgees) receive this letter as a notification of a gift made by a legal donor in tribute to another constituent (tributee).
- An acknowledgee is issued a letter per donor request with the donor’s contact information or if a tribute record has an existing default acknowledgee.
View and Submit Acknowledgment Activity
Accessing Acknowledgment Activity on the Communications or Revenue Tabs
To see the full list of communication activities with a constituent, navigate to the Communications tab on the constituent record. Here you will see all acknowledgments, along with other communications (e.g., event invitations, email newsletters, appeals, etc.). An example is provided below.
The acknowledgment type is shown in the Details column, and the acknowledgment date is shown in the Date sent column. The site field for all acknowledgment activity defaults to the site that the gift was given to (in yellow highlight above). To see details about the gift that was acknowledged, you may click on the link in the Communication column to view the revenue record.
You can also access the revenue record from the Revenue tab on the constituent record. The Revenue history subtab lists all gifts given by the constituent. Click the Gift link within the list to open the revenue record.
Viewing Acknowledgment Activity on the Revenue Record
After reaching the revenue record through the Communication tab or the Revenue tab, you will see details about an acknowledged gift, including the designation and all acknowledgment activity for a piece of revenue. Click the gift’s Acknowledgment link or Revenue History link (see the previous section). This will display the revenue record for the gift in question. From there, click the Letters tab to view all acknowledgment activity for a specific piece of revenue (gift or pledge).
In the Letters tab on the revenue record, you will see all related acknowledgments sent. The system labels any acknowledgment activity (email, letters, phone calls, etc.) as a “letter.” The level of acknowledgment is what is recorded here; the format is not tracked.
Submitting Acknowledgment Activity for ABE Upload
For acknowledgment activity to be reflected in the ABE database, campus units and WFAA staff responsible for sending acknowledgments must submit a record of their activity to WFAA Gift Services. This information is appended to the appropriate revenue records using an ABE import process.
To submit records of acknowledgment activity, fill out the appropriate fields in the Donor Acknowledgment Report (DAR) and return the completed report to the WFAA gift services team via the WFAA Help Center. A link to the WFAA Help Center can be found on the yellow header row of the DAR; that will link you to the WFAA Help Center to submit your file.
A few guidelines to keep in mind:
- The system supports only one acknowledgment of each type per revenue ID (e.g., a gift can show a “DoD acknowledgment” and a “Chancellor acknowledgment,” but not two “DoD acknowledgments”). Multiple acknowledgments can be recorded on a gift as long as they are each a different type of acknowledgment.
- When you are submitting a batch to be uploaded by WFAA, acknowledgment activity will also display on the recognized spouse’s communication record in the case of a joint gift.
- Any gifts/pledges not acknowledged should be deleted from your report before submitting.
Entering Acknowledgment Activity on the Donor Acknowledgment Report
To begin recording acknowledgment activity, first generate the Donor Acknowledgment Report for the funds you oversee. These reports include two columns to enable you to supply acknowledgment activity easily.
- The Acknowledgment Type provides a pull‑down menu to select one of the acknowledgment types that appear above.
- The date the acknowledgment was completed should be entered in the Acknowledgment Date column.
Here is an example of the pull-down as it appears in the Donor Acknowledgment Report. Choose the acknowledgment type for the activity you are reporting.
If the gift/pledge was not acknowledged, please delete the rows before submitting your report to Gift Services. A completed, ready‑to‑send report for one acknowledgment type may look something like the screenshot below.
If you are responsible for submitting more than one acknowledgment type for a given revenue ID, you have two options. Which you choose may depend on how acknowledgment work is managed within your unit. Either method is acceptable.
Create a separate report for each acknowledgment type and merge the two.
When you create your donor acknowledgment report for a given time frame, please save a copy for each acknowledgment type you need to send and record, merging the reports into one file before submitting it to Gift Services Donor Communications via the WFAA Help Center. Your completed report for each revenue type will look like the example above.
Submit one report with lines added for additional acknowledgment types.
Alternatively, if there is a gift on the report that requires two or more acknowledgment types, you can copy the appropriate line of revenue and insert it as an additional line on the report. You can record the additional revenue type(s) on the inserted line.
To copy a full line of Excel data, left-click on the far left column (ensure the entire row is selected), then right-click and choose Copy from the menu.
A dotted line will now surround the chosen row. Move your cursor to the row immediately below the selected row. Right-click and choose Insert Copied Cells.
The result will be an additional full row of the same revenue ID and constituent information.
You can then select the appropriate acknowledgment type using the drop-down menu in the inserted row’s column.
Submitting Completed Reports to WFAA
Completed report(s) must be submitted to the WFAA help center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please indicate Acknowledgment in the subject line, and attach your file(s) to the email. Once submitted:
- Your email will create a Help Center ticket, to which you will be added as the requestor.
- The Gift Services team will upload your acknowledgments to the corresponding revenue records in ABE.
- Requests will be processed regularly in the order they are received.
- You may be contacted if there are questions about the data you submit.
- When your request has been processed, you will receive a notification via email that your ticket has been solved.
Other Types of Individual Correspondence with Constituents
You may continue to submit other general correspondence types with constituents by submitting an Update ABE request. Examples of correspondence to submit in this way include holiday cards and thank-you cards for events or meetings. These will continue to be loaded onto the constituent record in ABE as General Correspondence.