Credits on File

This is a tutorial on the subject of credit on file. Credits on file are funds that you’re holding to be applied later.

There are two main ways that these funds originate: One way is typically toward the end of a calendar year. Somebody might send in a check, typically for tax purposes. Their intent is to instruct you in months to come, where to apply those funds; perhaps after the next pledge campaign, for example.

More frequently, though, is the case where you’ll have recurring payments. Toward the end of the recurring payment cycle, the respective charges are completely paid. In that case, the system places the extra funds into the category that we’ve dubbed Credit on File.

The question then is what do you do with that? How do you go about applying it? And we’ll run through a simple illustration in the accompanying video, using the fictitious Davis family.

We’ll see that they do owe some modest sums for dues. And if we skip all the way to the bottom, we’ll find that they have some credits on file left over from recurring payments over-payment.

To “draw” on the credit on file, we simply put an amount into the category that we wish to pay; and then, instead of a check, card, or bank account, we key that amount next to the credit on file balance.

Apply credits on file

Name-only Labels

ShalomCloud has for years been able to print labels. That is true both for individuals and for family units. However, until now, the labels were strictly mailing labels. That is, the program always printed the mailing address onto the label.

With this change, you now have the choice of printing name-only labels — excluding addresses. For family units, that name can be the formal name (“President George Washington and Mrs. Martha Washington”), or the informal name (“George and Martha”), or the informal label (“George and Martha Washington”). For individuals, it’s the title, the first name, and the last name.

A few possible uses for name-only labels: seating for a community Seder; badges for social events; badges for religious school, to name a few.

Here’s a short video showing the two places from which you can produce name-only labels.

Name-only labels
Labels — choice to include names only

Shopping Cart Tutorial

This shopping cart tutorial provides instruction on how to set up and use the ShalomCloud shopping cart.

First, a couple of ground rules. If you don’t see the menu options for the cart, we’ll need to set a certain flag. Also, using the shopping cart depends on your organization using the services of our preferred card and ACH provider. The reason will become apparent as you read on — our shopping cart is integrated with the membership and financial aspect of ShalomCloud.

Another ground rule — the shopping cart is appropriate for any fixed-priced items — including zero. In other words, where the visitor chooses an amount to pay, that would go under contributions.

First, setting up the cart. Under the Configuration menu, you’ll see a selection named “Items.” An item has a name, a description, a price, and a quantity available. Also, there is a date after which the item appears for purchase. In other words, before that date, the item won’t appear in the cart. Then, on the flip side, you would archive the item once it is longer for sale. For example, a Shabbat dinner from last Friday.

Finally, there is a field to designate what category to which the funds post.

When someone makes a purchase, then, the system subtracts the quantity purchased from the available count; and posts the monies to the category glued to that item.

To see what people have bought, you’d go to Queries -> Purchases. Here, you can ask for purchases, using any combination of four fields:

  • Any portion of the family code of the purchaser
  • Any portion of the item name
  • Purchased on or after
  • Purchased on or before.

As with all our queries, you can then download the results.

Last thing — in the video, you’ll see what the cart looks like from the visitor’s perspective. It’s a typical shopping cart paradigm. It has buttons to adjust quantities; to clear the cart; to continue shopping; and, finally, to check out.

When the user completes the purchase, a few things happen:

  • The purchaser receives an immediate email
  • Administrators so flagged receive an email about the purchase
  • If the system recognizes the email or cell phone that the visitor entered, it posts the money to that family.
  • If the system does not recognize the email or cell phone, it creates the family automatically.

Here’s a shopping cart tutorial video.

shopping cart item
shopping cart item

Tax Letter Tutorial

Given the season, we at ShalomCloud thought it timely to produce a tax letter tutorial.

There is one new minor feature included in this announcement. You can now include either formal name or informal name in the body of the tax letter.

Without more fanfare, we suggest just watching the video. It will show you how to set up the tax letter template. And, if you’re so inclined, a tax letter notification by email.

In the video, you’ll see some options when producing the tax letters. For example, you may choose to show payment sources — check number, card last-four-digits, etc.

Another option is whether you want to include all payments, or only those to categories marked as deductible.

Tax letter tutorial
Tax letter tutorial

Default Trancode on Charge

Default Trancode on Charge. What does that mean?

ShalomCloud has five transaction codes, three of which apply to credits. We have PD for payments; FA for Financial Assistance; and AJ for adjustments.

On the debit side, we have OW for general amounts owed, and PL for Pledges. Whether you actually use the term Pledges, or Dues, or Commitments, the idea is the same. PL represents amounts expected from the congregation.

The same arithmetic applies, identically, to both PL and OW. What is the difference, then? Primarily, three cases:

  1. When you do a financial transaction query, instead of picking individual pledge categories, you can use the transaction code “PL” to collect the pledge categories together.
  2. The Pledge/Paid gap graph depends on PL transactions for its numbers.
  3. The Pledges and Paid bar graphs, same thing.

So, given this background, how does this change come into play? When you’re explicitly creating a debit (= receivable), you explicitly choose whether to use OW or PL. However — and here’s the significance of this change — when payments come into the system, whether from the back office screens or from any of the user portals — if there is no debit for those funds, the system creates its own. That system-created debit uses the default OW/PL for the category.

Accordingly, if you now visit Configuration -> Financial Categories, you’ll see a new heading, namely “Trancode on charge.” This is where you’ll select whether ShalomCloud should record an on-the-fly debit as a PL or an OW item. Just go straight down the screen, selecting the radio button PL where it applies. Unmarked categories will default to OW, as they do today.

This is one place where you won’t need a submit button to declare the default transaction code on charge. Clicking the radio button takes effect immediately.

Same concepts, as a video, are here.

Default transaction code on charge
Default transaction code on charge

Mass Maintenance to Titles

To help bring more consistency to your data, we now have the ability to perform mass maintenance to titles. This is in the general area of maintenance for families and members.

Example: Suppose you have a mixture of Mr (no period) and Mr. (with a period). Or Dr (no period) and Dr. (with a period). Until now, you would have to change each title individually.

Newly available — within Configuration -> Titles, you’ll see a panel with the heading Mass Change of Titles. Simply enter the “from” title, the “to” title, and touch “Update titles.” In response, the system will do three things: (1) Create the “to” title if it doesn’t exist; (2) go through all the members, changing their titles; (3) delete the “from” title.

Here’s a short video demonstrating how to make mass maintenance to titles.

mass change of titles
Mass Change of Titles

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.

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.