Yahrzeit Query by Billing Status

Hang onto your hats, folks. This one goes a mite deep.

First, in order to understand this change, let’s outline how some of the data relates to each other. Modeled after the real world,

  • ShalomCloud houses family units, sometimes referred to as households.
  • One or more individuals reside within those family units.
  • Yahrzeits, in and of themselves, are records of deceased persons, containing, among other details, both the Hebrew and Gregorian dates of death.
  • Yahrzeit relationships, then, are the ties between the deceased and the individuals defined and maintained by you.

The family units / households contain a field called “billing status.” Thus, a member of a household listed as “Active” can also be thought of as Active. Likewise, a member of a household with status “Inactive,” for example, can be thought of as Inactive.

And now, at last we arrive at the change. Within Yahrzeit queries, you can now select billing status(es) for relationships you want to appear in the answer. For example, let’s say that there are two brothers, Adam and Billy. Adam is a member of your congregation; Billy is indeed tracked in your data, but has a status of “Out of Town.” Let’s say, also, that their father David’s Yahrzeit is in the system.

In this example, if you run a Yahrzeit query without specifying billing status, you’ll see both David, father of Adam and David, father of Billy. However, if you run that same query, specifying only Active, you’ll see only David, father of Adam.

Also, the actions that flow from the query screen–the mail merge export, the Yahrzeit reminder letters, and the Yahrzeit reminder emails–match what you’ll see on the screen.

Here is a five-minute video that shows how this works.

Adjustments to Amounts Owed

To give you another way to handle outstanding pledges, we now provide a way to issue adjustments to amounts owed. Let’s run through a couple of situations where this could be useful:

Situation 1: The family has pledged $1100. Four months later, they send in a check for $600, accompanied by a letter explaining that they’ve moved away and wish to have the rest of the pledge excused. With the presence of the adjustments field, you can record the remaining $500 as an adjustment, which, together with the actual payment, will reduce the amount owed to 0.

In the financial transaction query screen, you can ask the system to show you all adjustments. That could be without a time period, or bounded by a date range, a fiscal year, or any of the other values on the query screen.

Situation 2: Going back to that pledge of $1100–suppose the family has made a $100 payment for five months, which you’ve dutifully recorded, leaving a balance of $600. Now the family suddenly reveals that they’ve joined another synagogue, and wish to have their balance cleared. Here, you can enter a financial transaction, specifying only the $600 adjustment, with nothing in any of the payment boxes.

To complete the story, let us also mention that, parallel to adjustments, there is also available a Financial Assistance transaction. Its arithmetic is the same as an adjustment. Thus, the use of FA vs. Adjustment is largely a matter of semantics. An FA would likely be for situations such as illness or lost job.

Here’s a video (5m, 45s) illustrating a couple of round trips using the adjustment transaction.

Adjustments to Amounts Owed

Members by Household Attributes

You can now query for individual members, by the attributes associated with their household records.

To step back a bit–for some time, ShalomCloud has provided a way to define attributes (or ‘tags’) for families (a.k.a. Households), for individuals within those families, and for Yahrzeits. There are screens where you can easily and quickly tag your families and members, as needed.

Then, by going to the Queries menu, you could pull lists of families with your choice of attributes. Similarly, you could pull lists of individuals, with your choice of member attributes.

However–what if you wanted to obtain a list of people who belonged to families with certain attributes? For example–maybe you’ve tagged some households as Seniors, others as Young Couple or Young Single? And you want to reach out to members of those families, maybe to organize group-specific activities?

That’s what this enhancement handles. Have a look at the video (5 minutes). It shows you this feature, and also shows an example of combining the different attributes into one query.

Family attributes available in member query
Family attributes now available in member query

Donation Acknowledgments

This post discusses a couple of new ways to send donation acknowledgments.

For quite awhile, you could send such acknowledgments via postal mail, using a template in the format of a typical business letter. The structure included things such as insider address, greeting, body, complimentary close, and writer identification. If your synagogue’s letters fit into that mold, then that is probably your best option.

However–if either (a) you prefer to email your contribution acknowledgments, or (b) your template is more involved–say, with officers and titles running down the left side–you can now take advantage of the richer formatting options available under email templates.

In a way, we’re double-dipping here. At the risk of seeming repetitious–you now have three options:

  • Continue to use the venerable letter templates, especially if your letter adheres to the available structure;
  • Create an email template, and use it to email your donation acknowledgments;
  • Leverage the rich formatting of email templates to create a highly customized donation acknowledgment letter.

Here’s a seven-minute video that explains all three options.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a note at [email protected] . We’ll be happy to go over your specific situation and make a recommendation.

Recent Changes

Here in one compressed article is a list of recent changes. Some of these have merited their own independent post. Where that’s the case, you’ll see a link to that article. Otherwise, we’ll show a short explanation of the change.

Financial

On Queries => Financial Transactions, you can now enter a check number, check amount, or both. So, for example, if someone says, “I mailed in check 1234 for $85.00,” you’ll be able to quickly track whether you received and posted that check; and you’ll be able to tell at a glance the categories to which that money was applied.

On Queries => Financial Transactions, if you export data, you’ll see two changes:

  1. The export now contains the family’s formal name
  2. Debits (charges) and Credits (payments) appear in separate columns.

On Financial => Statements, the choice of which statements to print had been limited to either everyone, or any one specific family. The point of the “one specific family” was to handle the case where you may have reapplied a transaction, and wanted to produce an updated statement. Or, of course, if the family did not receive the original statement, and wanted a replacement. Now, as is the case with the directory, you can more finely select who will receive statements. You can select by billing status, and/or select by family attribute.

Membership communications

On Queries => Produce Directory, you can now select which families appear in the directory. You can select by billing status, by family attributes, or a combination. Also, if you mark the family with a special attribute named _EXCL, the program will exclude that household from the directory. Moreover, the Exclude attribute overrides all the other selection criteria.

When sending emails from Queries => Members, you now can choose from your own defined set of sender email addresses, in addition to your logged-in ID. Please see this blog post devoted to this topic.

The Turnaround Document offers the flexibility to either print it or email it. In early January 2019, we added the capability to print the Turnaround Document only for those families with no email address.

Yahrzeits

From Queries => Yahrzeits, you can now produce a formatted report, meant to provide lists of Yahrzeits read from the Bimah. Please see this blog post for details and report options.

In ShalomCloud, each Yahrzeit “notifee” can choose notification by Gregorian date, by Hebrew date, or none. Because of this, we show Yahrzeits by both sets of dates. However, if your congregation has all notifications set to Hebrew date (or none), the Gregorian portion will not appear.

Alternate ‘From’ Email Address

We have a change in store, designed to give you some more flexibility when sending congregational emails. The change is the ability to select an alternate ‘from’ email address when sending emails to your membership.

First, some background–we purposefully have defaulted the ‘from’ address when sending emails, to that of the logged-in id. That was designed to prevent anyone from impersonating another.

On the other hand, suppose your congregation has some general-purpose email addresses. Addresses such as [email protected] or [email protected] In that case, you may wish to send emails from those addresses, without having to log out of your actual user ID.

That is now possible. This video runs through the entire process. Basically, you’d define a few of these special email addresses. Then, attach these new email “users” to a special code. The special code allows the ID to do one thing–to send emails.

If you’re content with sending emails solely from your own logged-in ID, you can safely ignore this post. Your ID will still be the default, so this option won’t affect you.

Bimah List

Bimah List .

ShalomCloud has offered, from the beginning, a way to pull Yahrzeits by a variety of selection criteria. You could pull lists by by name, by related member, by Gregorian date range, by Hebrew date range. You could even pull a list of Yahrzeits where there is no related member.

Moreover, from the list, you could create emails to the related persons, or create hard-copy letters to those same folks.

Finally, you could export the list to a spreadsheet, and perhaps use that spreadsheet to format and print a document to read from the Bimah during Shabbat services.

We are announcing an added convenience–the ability to create a ready-made list, expressly meant to be read from the Bimah.

There are a few options when generating the Bimah list:

  • By Hebrew date or Gregorian date.
  • From and to dates.
  • Group the list by day or by week (for example, if you make the announcements weekly, and perhaps have a daily Minyan, you’d probably want to group the list by day. On the other hand, if you have services twice a month, you may want a monthly list, grouped by week).
  • Include or not include the relationships on the list.
  • Print the list (or save to a file), after you see it on the screen.

Here’s a video that shows a couple of ways to create the Bimah List.


QuickBooks Desktop Integration

ShalomCloud now offers QuickBooks Desktop integration.

For some time, we have supported near-real-time integration with QuickBooks Online.  By that, we mean that, within minutes of posting financial activity in ShalomCloud, that activity appears in QuickBooks Online.  This is a cloud-to-cloud integration, and one that seems to follow Intuit’s implied direction.  (For a comparison between QB Online and QB Desktop, please see this chart.)

However, in talking to customers and prospective customers, we have learned that QuickBooks desktop maintains its popularity.  Therefore, we developed the Desktop integration.

Basically, there are three steps involved.category mapping

Step 1–export your chart of accounts from QB Desktop, and import that chart into ShalomCloud.

Step 2–map your ShalomCloud categories  into the QuickBooks chart.  Then, after going about your normal financial posting,

Step 3–create the extract to QuickBooks Desktop.

 

 

The explanation above appears daunting–but it’s actually a simple process, as illustrated in this video, which walks through all the steps.  In reality, it may take some careful thought to get the mapping just right.  After that, though, the normal, day-to-day process just involves one link–to export financial activity from ShalomCloud–followed by importing that file into QB Desktop.

 

 

When your congregants do not have email

Most of the time, you can reach most of your community by email.  However, there will likely be some folks who either do not have an email address, or simply prefer paper mail.  How can you conveniently distinguish the paper-mail audience?

ShalomCloud now offers two different features geared toward the above.  First, we’ve added to the member query a check box to select those people who lack an email address:

paper mail--no email checkbox

Second–when you’re producing the so-called “turnaround document”–if you send a paper document to everyone, then this feature will not matter.

But–if you primarily send the turnaround document by email, you’ll see a way to reach the non-email members.  paper mail roster no email only

This is important to know–on the turnaround document, if you select “no email only,” that means that no one in the family has an email address.  Why?–a couple of reasons.  First of all, if anyone in the family has an email address, that household would have received the email version of the document.  Secondly, it is commonly the case that children may not have their email addresses loaded–and we wouldn’t want those families bombarded with redundant communications.

Yahrzeit Letters Enhanced

Enhanced formatting for Yahrzeit letters–by which we mean fonts, colors, sizing, and the like.

At first, ShalomCloud offered a way to control content for Yahrzeit notifications, presuming you would print and mail them.  After that, we bolstered the communication offering by making available email templates.  The latter included a toolbar to control letter sizes, letter colors, background colors, and even picture placement.

However, you, the user, had to choose one or the other–either the fixed format (but with editable content) of the letters, or the fluid format of emails.

No longer!  You may now format your Yahrzeit notifications using the email templates, yet use the email template to send hard-copy letters.  The best of both worlds.

Here’s a video (4m, 18s) that shows this new idea in action.