New features for Membership Directory

We now have available a few new features for the membership directory.

The most visible change is the option to print the directory in a linear, up-and-down organization. Before now, the only choice was to use a “Z-Pattern.” That is, ShalomCloud would print the first entry in the upper left corner. The the second name in the upper right corner. Then the third name on the next row, under the first name.

Now, you can choose to first fill the left column, then fill the right column. Then, a new page, continuing to the end.

Another change in the new style is displaying page numbers.

One more thing — if you populate the field known as “informal label,” you can now include that in the directory.

This video runs through all of new features for the membership directory.

Additional options for directory
Additional options for directory

Third-Party Payer

Third-party payer

We now have a convenient, straightforward way to handle those situations where you have a third-party payer. By that, we mean cases where your congregant owes for dues or school, for example, and someone volunteers to pay on their behalf.

To enter the third-party payer, you’d use the same screen as always. There’s simply a new field, roughly in the middle, to select the family who is making that payment.

On the financial transaction query, you’ll see the family name of the payer in the “source of funds” column. Likewise, that information appears on a spreadsheet export.

On the monthly or periodic statements, the name of the payer appears in the detail underneath the charge.

Finally, on the tax statement, the item appears on the actual payer’s statement.

Please have a look at this video, to see a demonstration of this feature.

Third-party payer
Third-party Payer

Allocate Recurring Payments

We now offer the ability to allocate recurring payments. That is, within a single payment, to specify exactly what to apply to any and all outstanding items. Thus, you can now pay against categories such as pledges, school tuition, and a security fee, concurrently.

A little background: When we first rolled out recurring payments, the only method available was “waterfall.” Meaning the entire payment would go against whatever item was at the top of the list of owed items. After the top item went to a zero balance, the recurring payment would proceed to the second item, etc.

With this ability to allocate recurring payments, you can declare exactly how much to go against each outstanding item. You can concurrently pay pledges, school tuition, security fees, and the like.

You can change an existing waterfall to an allocation if you’d like. In doing so, you needn’t re-enter any the payment information; but rather just change from waterfall to allocation, as illustrated in this video.

allocation recurring payments
Recurring Payment Allocations

Payment Tear-off

Monthly statements now have an option to include a payment tear-off at the bottom of the statement.

We at ShalomCloud have done much to enable electronic statements and electronic payments.

However, inevitably, a segment of your congregation prefers to deal with paper statements and paper payments. Accordingly, you now have the option of including a stub at the bottom of your statements.

The left side of the tear-off shows the amounts owed for the household. Items such as pledges, school tuition, security fees, Bar/Bat Mitzvah fees. Then, the right side has the family name and address, along with a place to record payment information. That payment information could be a check number and amount, or card information.

Payment Tear-off
Payment Tear-off

Feel free to peruse this video demonstration of this feature.

Mass Change for Relationship Phrases

Now available — mass change for relationship phrases.

Suppose in your list of Yahrzeits, you have some inconsistencies. Brother and brother. Sister-in-Law and sister in law. Of course, you wouldn’t want to change them one by one, to match your preferences. Now, in one easy step, you can change all the relationships from one phrase to another.

Mass change for relationship phrases
Mass Change for Relationship Phrases

To see this feature in action, please have a look at this short video.

Link to Pay

We’re rolling out a new feature for statements, dubbed “Link to Pay.”

Some background. For some time now, we’ve offered the ability to send statement notifications by email. The statement notification has a link, that enables the congregant to pull down a statement. That statement is exactly what would have appeared if you’d printed it in the office.

Similarly, we offer a member portal. With a user id and password that we generate, any of your members are able to log in, edit family information, pull statements, and conduct financial transactions. Included, too, is a member search.

This new feature, “link to pay,” combines these capabilities. Within the emailed statement notification, you may include a link that automatically logs the person into the respective account. No password needed. In fact, it goes one step further. It sends your congregant directly to the payment page within the member portal.

To see this feature in action, please view this video.

Link to Pay.  Automatically log into the member portal from the statement notification.
Link to Pay

As the video shows, there is a small but key setup item in the email template. Feel free to contact us if you’d like some help in getting that ready.

Five Enhancements

We have five enhancements to show and explain. In no particular order, they are as follows.

On the member query, you can now enter part (or all) of a family code as your search criteria. This might be especially useful if you’re intending to send an email via ShalomCloud to members of a specific family, who may have different last names.

Also on the member query, specifically the part of the screen used to send emails. Until now, the email addresses were placed into a text box. If you wanted to avoid sending content to one or several of the selected members, you had to find the respective email addresses and delete them from the screen. Now, you can use the check-boxes on the right of the screen to effect that selection.

Turning our attention to Yahrzeits — in the case where

  • the person passed away on February 29 (of a leap year, of course), and
  • there are observers by Gregorian date, and
  • the current year is not a leap year

the system works correctly if you pull a list for February 1 through February 28.

The “all-children report” now includes a record count.

For those who use our QuickBooks Desktop integration — you can now query financial transactions by the batch code. Furthermore, the batch code appears on the CSV exports. The batch code does not have to be complete. For example, you could query on something like 2020-12-20, and that will pick up all all batches from that day, such as 2020-12-20-1-CHK, 2020-12-20-2-CRD, etc.

If you’d like to see any or all of these changes in action, have a look at this presentation.

Automated Emails to Contributors

ShalomCloud now creates automated emails to contributors. Well, not only contributors, but also people paying any kind of commitment. And, also, payments made from the ShalomCloud shopping cart.

Some background: originally, ShalomCloud was strictly a back-office utility. Appropriately, it tracked membership, Yahrzeits, and commitments and payments. Primarily, office personnel recorded those payments, most of which arrived via paper check. Also, ShalomCloud offered, and continues to offer, a way to produce acknowledgement letters.

However, as people have become more and more accustomed to making online payments, ShalomCloud has expanded beyond a back-office program. Accordingly, we offer three different windows for payments. There is a pure payment portal (login not required), a logged-in member portal, and a shopping cart. Again, to keep pace with what perhaps has become an expectation in this digital society, we now generate immediate acknowledgements via email, for each of those three windows into ShalomCloud.

Payment Acknowledgement
Payment Acknowledgement

Here is a somewhat verbose video, that, in the end, shows the automated emails to contributors.

One thing more, not shown in the video. You can designate the sender of those emails. By default, the sender will be [email protected] However, after logging into the system, if you go to Home -> Declare synagogue options, you’ll see a place to declare the “Default email from.” We will need to verify that sender email address, just be aware.

When a Congregant Passes Away

When a congregant passes away, there are a number of tasks to take care of. Until now, we provided a list of those actions, which you had to perform one by one.

With this enhancement, we have streamlined that process and automated quite a few steps. Where the steps do require manual input, we’ve gathered those inputs into fewer screens than you had to visit in the past.

The manual steps are:

  • Update the formal name, informal name, and informal label of the family
  • Possibly changing the billing status, especially if the one who passed away was the last survivor of the family

The automated steps — those that ShalomCloud performs without your intervention are:

  • Sets the “deceased” flag for the member.
  • Erases the email address (to avoid inadvertently sending an email from ShalomCloud).
  • Erases the cell phone (to avoid inadvertently sending a text message from ShalomCloud).
  • Changes the role-within-family to “Deceased.”
  • For all Yahrzeit notifications that the newly deceased was receiving, sets the notification flag to “N”. This avoids the embarrassing possibility of sending Yahrzeit reminders.
  • Tags the Yahrzeit as a former member. Thus, you can query Yahrzeits for former members who passed away during a given time period.

After performing these actions, both manual and automated, the system then provides you with a link to all the Yahrzeits currently observed by the person who passed away. This gives you the opportunity to declare other reminders, thus keeping alive the lineage.

To see this process in action, please peruse this video, illustrating the process to follow when a congregant passes away.

Death of a congregant
Death of a Congregant

Yahrzeit Enhancements

We have a couple of yahrzeit enhancements that may be quite useful, depending on your situation.

yahrzeit enhancements 1: Date range change

Until now, when you keyed a date range to pull yahrzeit lists, that range had to be entirely in the future. If you entered a date in the past, the system assumed you meant next year. With this enhancement, you may enter dates up until 10 days ago. For example, if you’re pulling a yahrzeit list on Friday, 11/13/2020, you may enter Saturday, 11/7/2020 through Friday, 11/13/2020. Another example — suppose it’s the 3rd of a month, and you meant to pull the entire month three days ago, but somehow missed doing it. Now it works to pull from the 1st through end of month.

yahrzeit enhancements 2: Export bimah list

After running the query, if you’ll scroll to roughly the middle of the page, you’ll find a light blue button entitled “Create Combo Bimah List.” That is not new — it presents a nicely formatted page, combining the yahrzeits with the observers by Hebrew date, along with the observers by Gregorian date.

New, though, is a button to the right of the the light blue button. This is an indigo button

Button to export combo bimah list
Export Combo Bimah List

that makes the same data available in a spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet has a few features not available on the web page:

  • the name of the yahrzeit appears with the first and last names in separate columns, and then again with the first and last names combined into one column.
  • if there is a plaque, the plaque location occupies a column
  • the first and last names of the observer, and the relationship of the deceased to the observer, appears in separate columns; and then combined into one column.

Here’s a video demonstrating these two new Yahrzeit enhancements.

Bimah List, exported
Bimah List Exported