Multi-donations on one letter

For some time, ShalomCloud Synagogue Management Software has been able to produce acknowledgment letters for contributions–not only to the contributor, but also to any congregation members whom the contributor wishes to let know.  For example, if Allen Abelson contributes $18 to the General Fund in honor of the birthday of Sam Silverstein, Mr. Abelson would typically like for Mr. Silverstein to be notified about the contribution.

However, there’s been a less-than-optimal facet of this process: namely that, if a payment included contributions to several different funds, the contributor would receive a separate letter for each granular contribution.

The enhancement implemented on 7/9/2017 groups such line items into one letter to the contributor.  Letters to “Notifees” remain as they were.

A few new fields

Ever-responsive to customer requests, we have added a few fields.  The reader will note that, when we add fields, that implies that, not only do we carry them in the database, but also

  1. They are present in spreadsheet uploads, for bulk data input.
  2. They are present in spreadsheet downloads.
  3. They are available for searching.

Within the Member person records, we have added marital status and maiden name.  Thus, if you’re planning to run a young singles night, you could ask the system for a list of those with marital status of ‘single’ who are under the age of –you pick it– …And then email those Members from within the software.

Within Yahrzeit records, we have added Hebrew name and maiden name.

Organizing for the High Holidays

As you’re gathering momentum (or just starting) to prepare for the holidays, allow me to recommend something a tad bold and different, but which should help mightily.

Does this describe your situation? (1) Many events to orchestrate and coordinate; (2) Several people, and several committees, with varying responsibilities; (3) A mix of professional staff, office personnel, clergy, and off-site volunteers, all with different tasks and ideas; (4) a flood of emails roaring across the landscape, some with too narrow an audience, some with too wide an audience.

What to do?  Suggestion–open a Slack channel.  

What is Slack?  It’s a tool to collaborate online.  Everyone involved in planning for the holidays (or for any large event, for that matter), can be a member of the Slack channel, and can post questions and answers, by topic.  For example, you could set up topics such as Seating, Children’s Services, and Assignment of Honors.

Let’s spell out a few advantages of this way of collaborating:

— All communications happen in one place, segmented by topic.

— All content can be searched from one location.

— If there are documents to be shared, that can also be done within Slack–even if you use tools like Google Docs or Dropbox to house them.

— If the need arises for private communication, that can be accommodated within Slack.

— There are iPhone and Android apps for Slack; thus, team members don’t need to be in front of a PC to fully participate.

If your holiday preparations flow smoothly, and coordinating among the widely varied participants poses no challenge–well, keep doing what you’re doing. Otherwise, consider giving this intuitive, popular tool a try.

Please feel free to subscribe to this blog, using the form in the panel on the right.  Or, if you’d like to join our own Slack channel,  synagogue-management.slack.com, drop us a line.

 

 

 

 

 

A handy productivity tip

This article has nothing to do with ShalomCloud, but rather is a general technology-related tip that may help the reader in ordinary daily activities, both professional and personal.

Have you heard of IFTTT (If This, Then That)?  IFTTT offers a way to integrate disparate applications.  A couple of examples:

Continue reading “A handy productivity tip”

Recurring Payments Capability Added

We have broadened our payments function to include recurring payments.  There are some rather sophisticated ideas implemented herein:

  1. Validates the card information immediately
  2. Shows you all the unpaid items for a selected family
  3. Drag and drop(!) the order in which you’d like to pay the outstanding items (thus establishing a waterfall).
  4. Select a payment frequency and amount
  5. Optionally declare a maximum number of payments.

From there, the magic unfolds.  As each payment date arrives, the card is charged, of course.  Then, the payment is automatically applied to the outstanding items that you specified in step 3 above.

The system applies periodic payments until either (a) the maximum number of payments is reached, or (b) all outstanding items declared in the waterfall reach a $0 balance.  At that point, the program applies any remaining monies to credit on file, and sends an email to your office personnel to cancel the recurring payment.

As a synagogue back office, you would accomplish all of the above within ShalomCloud.  The actual card activity occurs within Stripe , but ShalomCloud handles the “conversation” with Stripe.

Many systems offer a recurring payment feature–however, you would typically find yourself making decisions on each individual payment as it arrives (“Here’s $100–let me look over the ledger–hmm, what should I apply it to??”).  Not the case here–when you set up the recurring payment, you’d make those decisions during setup.  The activity flows automatically from there.

If we’ve piqued your interest in this capability, please consider subscribing to this blog, by entering your email into the area at the top of the beige-colored box.

Graphs and Charts

Visualization!

ShalomCloud now provides various ways to depict your data.  This initial rollout includes:

  1. Families joining, by year
  2. Pledged amounts and owed amounts, by year
  3. Pie chart of revenue by category
  4. “Burndown” chart–month by month cumulative totals of pledged and paid amounts.

Here’s a five-minute video showing this feature in action.

Any cloud or this cloud?

Let’s say you’ve heard about this ambiguous idea dubbed “the cloud,” and let’s say you’re in tune with the idea of running your organization on applications that don’t reside on your computers, or within your premises.  With those givens, what specifically can ShalomCloud do for you?

Let’s run through a few real-world examples:

  1. You’re the president of the Sisterhood, and you want an up-to-date roster of your members.  ShalomCloud provides a tagging system for any and all members.  By means of that tag (or “attribute”), you, the president of Sisterhood, can log into the system from your smart phone, pull down a spreadsheet of Sisterhood members, and call them via tapping the phone number–or send an instant email, right from within the software.
  2. You’re the comptroller, treasurer, or anyone else who handles incoming funds.  With ShalomCloud, you have the ease of booking financial activity, and having it flow through QuickBooks Online immediately.  Thus, you are freed from having to periodically download activity from the synagogue management system.  Furthermore, having an immediate update should dramatically reduce the complexity of reconciling the two systems.
  3. Building on the point above–you’re the Executive Director, and you’re looking for ways to reduce manual, repetitive tasks among your personnel.  With ShalomCloud, you can, at your discretion, allow your membership to make payments online, which flow directly into the software.  As a result, there will be less time spent taking phone calls with credit card instructions, and less time spent opening envelopes and applying payments.
  4. You’re on the Board of Directors, and you want multi-year running totals, by family, of pledges and payments.  And you want a yearly summary along with it.  Sure, if you’re familiar with pivot tables in Excel, and if your software can dump down its history in a usable format, you can achieve that goal.  But with ShalomCloud, the work is done for you–at the touch of button, it creates a six-year trend report, by family, for any set of categories.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list.  Rather, your author has sought to take what may be an abstract concept (“it’s in the cloud”) and put paint to the canvas, so to speak, to provide concrete examples of how our software would benefit your entire organization.

Import and Export

An opinion based on decades of dealing with programs and users (please forgive the virtual yelling):

It’s your data.  Your should be able to extract it into a spreadsheet at any time.

Too often, purveyors of software make you a prisoner of their environment, because your data is locked inside their database.  As a trivial example, I’ve seen this in a lot of to-do apps.   You might have a hundred items in there, and you may wish to extract them for offline analysis.  “No,” say many vendors.

Continue reading “Import and Export”

Announcing — Member Portal, Part II

As of last post, congregants could update their demographic information–name, address, phone, email, birthday, et al.–and could pull statements for any time interval.

Member portal pull statement

 

Added to that capability, members can enter financial activity directly into the system.

Continue reading “Announcing — Member Portal, Part II”