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

Search Financial Transactions using a wildcard

You can now search financial transactions using a wildcard, or key-word, for the category.

Especially for those of you converting from a legacy system, you may find yourself with hundreds of financial categories. Worse, the naming convention may have differed from year to year, especially if the fiscal year was part of the category name. We’ve seen lists such as

  • 18-19 Senior Dues
  • 2018-19 Dues
  • 2018-2019 School tuition
  • Young couple dues, 2018-19

With that sort chaos in the naming convention, it’s time consuming to try pinpointing several related categories in a sorted list.

With today’s change, you can merely type a keyword or phrase into an area labeled Category wildcard.

Search Financial Transactions using a wildcard
Category wildcard

When accompanied by fiscal year, this gives you a powerful and quick way to focus on a set of transactions in related categories.

Feel free to enjoy this short (3m 26s) video, demonstrating this ability to search financial transactions using a wildcard in the category.

Statement Options

This enhancement includes a number of statement options. Note that you need not change anything, unless you wish to avail yourself of one or more of these options.

Current Options

Currently, the name and address of the synagogue, along with phone number and website URL, appear at the bottom of the statement. If you’d like to eliminate that, you can put the phrase {no_footer} within the field named Top text. Related to that, if you’d like to print such information near the top of the statement, you can type those details into Top text.

New formatting options

If you would prefer showing the family code itself, rather than just the name and address of the family, on the statement, you can include the phrase {family_code} within the body of the letter.

If you’d like to change the font size of the statement, you can now include something like {font_size 13} within the Additional info. The default is a font size of 12. You can make that smaller or larger, as you see fit.

New content option

Finally — when you select Financial -> Statements, you’ll see an additional checkbox, to suppress zero-balance items. By default, statements include items that were posted and paid in the current statement period. In other words, if someone contributes $18 to a designated fund during the month, that item shows on the statement. On the other hand, if you check the box suppress zero balance, the statement will show only those items with a non-zero balance.

These statement options are by no means an all-or-nothing set of changes. Choose whichever make the most sense for you. Or, try several combinations. The most compact statement would be to un-check include recent payments, and check suppress zero balance.

If you’d like to see a before-and-after video of these changes, feel free to watch this video.

Statement options
Option to suppress zero balance

Recurring Payments Waterfall

Now available — the ability to change the recurring payments waterfall.

What do we mean by the term “waterfall?” Like water descending from a high plateau, we’re referring to the order in which payments are applied against owed items. As a result of this change, you may now alter the course of the waterfall (to continue the nature analogy) by changing the order of the to-be-paid items, or even adding new items. In addition, you can now drag-and-drop those new items to any position within the waterfall. For example, if you want school payments to come before anything else, you would simply drag the school payment charge to the top of the list.

Does this sounds abstract? Hard to understand? This short (3 minutes, 25 seconds) video should make this change clear.

Changing recurring payments

Recurring payments waterfall
Recurring Payments

The All-Children Report

The All-Children Report now has some additional capabilities.

Setup:

To set this up, it is imperative that, in the Configuration => Roles Within Family, you have various roles for adults and/or parents, and for children. Then, it is also imperative that each person, whether child or adult, to appear on the report, must have an assigned role within family.

List:

With that setup work done, you may now go to Registration -> All children. Here you’ll see a screen that lets you select one or more grade levels (Bet, Gimel, for example, which many temples use for 2nd grade and 3rd grade, respectively). In addition, if you have other distinctions, expressed as member attributes, such as Virtual class, or 4:15 pm session, you may make those selections in conjunction with the grade levels.

After making your selections and using the Submit button, you’ll see a list. The list contains the names of the children, the grade levels, and the family code. You’ll see that the family code is a link, that takes you directly into the family record. That would be handy if you want to change the child’s record — a class, or an attribute, for example. Looking farther to the right, you’ll see the parents’ names, cell phones, and email addresses.

Export:

Immediately below the list, you’ll see a button to export that list to a spreadsheet. There are two additional fields on the spreadsheet that do not appear on the screen:

  • The attributes mentioned in the previous paragraph, and the mailing address of the family.
  • The family’s mailing address

Email:

Below the export button, you’ll then see an area which you can use to email the parents. Note that, regardless of the number of times the parent email address appears in the list, the email list has each email address only once. From here, you can compose an email, and optionally include an attachment.

To see a video on the all-children report, please use this link.

All-Children Report
The All-Children Report

Financial Categories with the Portals

This enhancement talks about financial categories with the portals.

By way of background — ShalomCloud offers two payment portals: first, a public portal, where any person or organization can enter some basic information, then choose from a list of funds or categories. Another alternative is the member portal. For more information, feel free to browse these articles.

Today’s announcement, which applies to both portals, is that you can now specify exactly which financial categories should appear as choices within these portals. You may have old categories no longer used. Or you may have categories in use, but really meant only for the back-office.

In either case, you can mark any category as either Public, which means it’s on the portals, or Internal.

Here is a video showing this feature in action.

Financial categories with the portals.
Financial Category — public or internal

Running Statements

Running statements can tie up your screen for much more than a few seconds. In fact, if statements take more than two minutes, you’ll see a message about a Gateway timeout.

In order to avoid this, we are now processing statements as a background job. What does this mean to you? First of all, as you submit a statement run, you’ll get an immediate response, telling you that the statement run has begun. Later, typically two to five minutes, you’ll receive an email, from [email protected], informing you that the statements are ready. In that email will be a link, which you can use to download the statements.

For small synagogues, this may be a bit of an inconvenience — after all, it’s a two-step process to pull statements. However, you do gain the benefit of being able to use your browser while the statements are running. And, by running them in the background, you’ll not have to worry about the system timing out.

In weeks to come, we expect to be doing the same for some of the longer-running selections.

Statement run in action: Link to video

Long running jobs

Move a person from one family to another

ShalomCloud now offers a convenient way to move a person from one family to another.

On occasion, you may have added a person to the wrong family. Or, you may have what are, in reality, duplicate records that you wish to consolidate. You may even have situations where families merge.

For any of these situations, we now offer a simple way to move a person from one family to another. It’s just a new field amidst the normal family/member maintenance.

Behind the scenes, there are a couple of clean-up actions that occur:

  1. The system checks to see whether there are any financial transactions tied to the ‘from’ family.
  2. The system checks whether there are any people remaining in that family.

If either is true, nothing further happens. Otherwise, the system goes ahead and deletes the ‘from’ family. If, for some reason, you want to see what was in the family record, you can go to the family/member audit trail to see those values.

Here is a very short video on this topic.

Move person from one family to another.
Move person from one family to another

Email Attachments

ShalomCloud now offers the ability to add email attachments to your communications.

Before we delve into the “how-to,” let’s look at some of the things you might consider before sending out email attachments.

  1. In most email systems, the recipient must download the attachment to see any part of the email.
  2. Many users read emails on their cell phones; if, at the time, they are not in a wireless network, that data would count against their cell plan data allotment.
  3. Sending large attachments to several hundred recipients is a generally frowned upon practice. Better would be providing a link to the document. That way, the email itself reaches its recipients more quickly, and they can decide whether or not to access the document.

With that being said, adding an attachment is rather easy in ShalomCloud. There is a new button at the bottom of the member query, as pictured below:

email attachments
Adding an attachment to emails

There are a couple of limitations, though: first, you can add only one attachment at a time; second, the attachment must be smaller than two megabytes.

Here is a video showing how to query members, and send them emails with an attachment.