ShalomCloud Form Builder

Announcing the general availability of the ShalomCloud Form Builder.

First of all — if, after seeing this article and video, you’re interested in using the form builder, and your menu bar doesn’t have “Registration,” let us know.

First — let’s point out some the the advantages of the ShalomCloud form builder:

  • Sent to selected audience, or your entire congregation.
  • Automatically links responses to your members.
  • In the case of school registration, automatically links students to parents.
  • At your option, can automatically bill (or charge) for specific items. Examples include religious school grade levels, various pledge levels, building fund, etc.
  • Can respond automatically with a link to send the member into the member portal, in order to remit funds against amounts owed.
  • Automatically fills answers to text questions carried over from year to year

And, let’s point out a few things it does not do:

  • Absence of pictures and graphics
  • No dependent questions.
  • No fancy layouts — questions flow vertically.
  • Cannot serve as a blank form on your web site.

To make a form, you’d start by giving it a name. After that, start putting together questions. The questions can be:

  • Required or not
  • Text (fill in the blank)
  • Radio (pick one of several)
  • Check-box (pick none to several)
  • Information (no answer needed)
  • Billable or not

Also, you may order the questions, simply by entering 10, 20, 25, 30, etc.

Finally — the registrations menu has choices to view and export responses. Also, there is a search field. So, for example, if you wanted to search for “allergies,” you’d find any responses containing that word.

Feel free to view this video to see the form builder in action.

ShalomCloud Form Builder
Form Builder Question

Improvements to Member Portal Setup

We have a few things to offer toward improvements in the member portal setup.

If you’re unfamiliar with the member portal, please have a look at this article. This provides the basic information about setting up the ability for your congregants to perform self-service in a variety of areas.

This announcement explains some improvements, primarily in the ongoing operation of the portal.

One: We now sort the selected names alphabetically.

Two: We offer buttons to check-all or uncheck-all. So, for example, if you have a few new members that you want to set up, instead of having to declare a member attribute, you can list everyone, un-check all, and check that selected few.

Three: We’ve seen quite a few cases where congregants did not respond to the initial email contain their login information. Then, a few months later, they now want to take it for a spin. Until now, the program prevented an existing user from being set up a second time. Now, however, we purge anyone who has never logged in. That lets you resend a portal setup.

On the other hand, if someone has logged in, presumably that person has either retained the original complex password, or changed the password to one of their choosing. In either case, it would be a bad idea to unconditionally send a new password; and so we don’t.

Feel free to watch this video demonstration.

Improvements to member portall.  Check all or uncheck all
Check all or uncheck all

Deep Dive

Deep Dive for improvements to member portal setup.

If you email statement notifications, you can include a “link_to_pay”. This is a complex, encrypted link that takes the user directly into the portal, without explicitly logging in. If the user changes any family information, or makes a payment to a commitment, that is as good as logging in. Thus, that user will not be cleaned out, even if there is no explicit login.

Yahrzeit Query by Attribute

This enhancement includes the ability to do a yahrzeit query by attribute.

To review — you can assign attributes (a.k.a. “tags”) to individuals. For example, you may wish to assign an attribute of “Snail Mail Only,” or “Send yahrzeit notifications by surface mail” to some congregants who have expressed that preference. Until now, there was no way to distinguish observers by tag.

Now, you can do so. In the Yahrzeit query, you’ll see a new selection called “Member attribute.”

Yahrzeit query by member attribute

That way, you can obtain one comprehensive list of observers. Or, you can obtain a list according to the way you’ve tagged individuals.

There is one more small enhancement along with this one. If you use the Combo Bimah List export, you’ll see the observer’s cell phone on that spreadsheet.

To see these features in action, please enjoy this short (3m, 30s) video.

Diving a bit deeper — most often, the Yahrzeit query is by a range of dates — the forthcoming week, or the forthcoming month. It’s more versatile than that. You can also query by the name of the deceased; by the name of an observer; and you can also pull a list of people who have passed away in the past year .

Dynamic Pull-Down Lists

This feature introduces dynamic pull-down lists. At this point, the feature appears on the financial data-entry screens.

Until now, when you wanted to select people to be notified about a contribution, you had to scroll down the list of all the people in your congregation. And, then, point and click on the one(s) you wanted to notify. Now, you can enter part of a last name. After one second, ShalomCloud reduces the pull-down list to match the name you’ve keyed.

Similarly, for the category of the contribution, you had to point and click. If your categories were fairly small in number, this was not much of a challenge. However, if you have several hundred categories, finding exactly the right one might prove frustrating. Now, you can enter a term, such as “tuition”, into the search box. After one second, ShalomCloud reduces the dynamic pull-down list to match the category you’ve keyed.

To see a video demonstration, access this link.

dynamic pull-down lists

We hope that these two new dynamic pull-down lists will shave a few seconds from each of your efforts to record contributions.

Display Children in the Directory

This article announces a change in how to display children in the directory.

First, some background — please read this previous article on a few changes that preceded this one.

Now, for this change. Until now, if you wanted to list children in the directory, you would select their roles, along with adults and parents. With that choice, children would appear if they had a cell phone or email. If they had neither, their names would not appear. Moreover, if you wanted to show children’s names, but omit the cell and email, you would have to individually check that option per child.

It’s simpler now. Basically, you can follow two rules. Rule one — the Role within family determines whose names appear with their personal contact information. Rule two — by adding the phrase {children} to the letter template for the Directory, you’ll display children in the directory. First names only, as a list.

Here’s a short (3m, 36s) video showing this change in action.

How to add a list of children within the directory.

Installment Billing

ShalomCloud now offers installment billing

By way of explanation — typically, after a pledge drive, or school signups, you’ll record what each family owes. The most direct way to handle those charges, is to book an amount owed per category. For example, $1800 for a pledge, or $500 for religious school. You can include an effective date and/or a due date with each item.

However, we understand that some synagogues prefer, not a lump sum, but to create equal charges over time. Using that $1800 pledge as an example, to bill $200 for nine consecutive months.

Until this change, the only way to create successive monthly (or quarterly) charges was to bill them manually. Now, as you can see in the video below, ShalomCloud handles that automatically. You’ll enter the total amount of the charge, say whether it’s monthly or quarterly, declare a first bill date and a last bill date, and ShalomCloud handles the arithmetic.

One small point — the program handles situations where the total, divided by the number of months, is not an even number of cents.. For example, if you’re making six pledges for a total of $1000, ShalomCloud will create five of $166.67; and then the last one will be $166.65, to come out to the even $1000.

A few points of caution to consider.

Statements will exclude future-dated transactions. So, if you’re running statements on, say, October 5th, and you want to show amounts owed that might be effective-dated October 15th, you’ll need to use a period end date of at least October 15th.

The logged-in member portal will show each of those individual transactions owed. Put another way, showing a single line item for a pledge, would be a cleaner presentation than half a dozen, smaller line items.

Another point — if your intent is to set up recurring payments for the pledge, you’re much better off keeping the amount owed as a single line item. Otherwise, you’ll see a screen like this:

where the top line, a single lump-sum pledge, is clearer to deal with than many small increments.

Nonetheless, if you’re aware of these situations, and consider that incremental billing fits your situation, feel free to use it.

Here’s a video that shows the process in action:

CC Eligible Users

You now have the ability to CC eligible users on outgoing ShalomCloud email.

There are two places the CC comes into play. First, when you’re sending emails from the member query. Second, when you’re sending emails from the All Children report.

Be aware of a couple of ground rules, though. The CC email addresses must be in ShalomCloud as administrative users. That’s what we intend with the phrase “CC Eligible Users.” That is to say, they must have read or write permissions on general data. If you do type in an email address that isn’t eligible, the system will warn you with a red bar underneath the CC area. Just blank out the named email address, and you’ll be good to go.

Do be aware that your own sent email is available in ShalomCloud, under Queries -> Email history. Therefore, you needn’t CC yourself, just to have a record of what you’ve sent.

Here’s a video showing this new area in action

CC Eligible Users
CC To:

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Selected Journal Entry Screen

You can now remove items from the Selected Journal Entry screen.

If you’re a QuickBooks Desktop user, you’re likely familiar with the Selected Journal Entry screen. This panel shows the items posted to ShalomCloud since the last push to QBD. From its inception, you could pick and choose which items you wanted to summarize and send.

However, if for some reason you wanted to permanently remove an item from that screen, you had to contact ShalomCloud support. Otherwise, the item would stay on that screen. Now, though, the right edge of the screen has a link to Remove the item. This does not delete the transaction altogether. Instead, it just marks it with a faux batch code.

On the other hand, if you removed an item and want it put back into the SJE screen, there is a way. Namely, you would do a financial transaction query to find the item, edit it, and check a box to remove that faux batch code.

Here’s a video that shows these features.

Notification Flags

Now available — email notification flags, to control who receives any of various notifcations.

Until this change, the system used three rules to determine who received email notifications:

  1. Anyone with read or write permission for financial activity would receive an email whenever a payment occurred.
  2. Anyone with read or write permission for schools would receive an email whenever a school registration occurred.
  3. Anyone with read or write permission on families would receive a notification whenever any other type of form arrived.

With this change, you can designate which of these notifications go to each user. You’ll see a yes/no choice, when you edit the profile for any user.

Be it noted that, initially, we’ve set the flags such that there is no change in who receives what. Thus, we recommend that you have a look at your profiles, and turn off the flags for those who are receiving extraneous email notifications.

Feel free to look over this short (2m, 50s) video showing how to edit these three new flags.

Statement Address Precision

You now have the ability to specify where you’d like the family’s address to appear on the statement. You can be as precise as you’d like, down to 1/72nd of an inch. Thus, you can now configure window envelopes with precision.

Second announcement — if you use the option to include recent payments on the statement, the payment line now includes the transaction description. We’ve always shown the date, the category, the amount, and the source of funds. Now, though, we show the description, if entered within the item.

Please enjoy this 6-minute video to see these features in action.

Margins for family address