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

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