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.

Installment Billing

ShalomCloud now offers installment billing

By way of explanation — typically, after a pledge drive, or school signups, you’ll record what each family owes. The most direct way to handle those charges, is to book an amount owed per category. For example, $1800 for a pledge, or $500 for religious school. You can include an effective date and/or a due date with each item.

However, we understand that some synagogues prefer, not a lump sum, but to create equal charges over time. Using that $1800 pledge as an example, to bill $200 for nine consecutive months.

Until this change, the only way to create successive monthly (or quarterly) charges was to bill them manually. Now, as you can see in the video below, ShalomCloud handles that automatically. You’ll enter the total amount of the charge, say whether it’s monthly or quarterly, declare a first bill date and a last bill date, and ShalomCloud handles the arithmetic.

One small point — the program handles situations where the total, divided by the number of months, is not an even number of cents.. For example, if you’re making six pledges for a total of $1000, ShalomCloud will create five of $166.67; and then the last one will be $166.65, to come out to the even $1000.

A few points of caution to consider.

Statements will exclude future-dated transactions. So, if you’re running statements on, say, October 5th, and you want to show amounts owed that might be effective-dated October 15th, you’ll need to use a period end date of at least October 15th.

The logged-in member portal will show each of those individual transactions owed. Put another way, showing a single line item for a pledge, would be a cleaner presentation than half a dozen, smaller line items.

Another point — if your intent is to set up recurring payments for the pledge, you’re much better off keeping the amount owed as a single line item. Otherwise, you’ll see a screen like this:

where the top line, a single lump-sum pledge, is clearer to deal with than many small increments.

Nonetheless, if you’re aware of these situations, and consider that incremental billing fits your situation, feel free to use it.

Here’s a video that shows the process in action:

Notification Flags

Now available — email notification flags, to control who receives any of various notifcations.

Until this change, the system used three rules to determine who received email notifications:

  1. Anyone with read or write permission for financial activity would receive an email whenever a payment occurred.
  2. Anyone with read or write permission for schools would receive an email whenever a school registration occurred.
  3. Anyone with read or write permission on families would receive a notification whenever any other type of form arrived.

With this change, you can designate which of these notifications go to each user. You’ll see a yes/no choice, when you edit the profile for any user.

Be it noted that, initially, we’ve set the flags such that there is no change in who receives what. Thus, we recommend that you have a look at your profiles, and turn off the flags for those who are receiving extraneous email notifications.

Feel free to look over this short (2m, 50s) video showing how to edit these three new flags.

Mass Change for Relationship Phrases

Now available — mass change for relationship phrases.

Suppose in your list of Yahrzeits, you have some inconsistencies. Brother and brother. Sister-in-Law and sister in law. Of course, you wouldn’t want to change them one by one, to match your preferences. Now, in one easy step, you can change all the relationships from one phrase to another.

Mass change for relationship phrases
Mass Change for Relationship Phrases

To see this feature in action, please have a look at this short video.

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

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.

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

Recurring Payments in the Member Portal

ShalomCloud now offers the ability to create recurring payments in the member portal.

By way of background — we have for some time offered the following capabilities, once a congregant logs in:

  • Maintain own family’s demographic information
  • See yahrzeits related to any member of the family
  • Add a member to the family
  • Pull a statement — amounts owed and paid — for any date range.
  • Make a payment, while designating exactly how those funds should be applied.
  • Member search, by any portion of the last name and/or first name.

To these functions, we now add the idea of creating, updating, and deleting recurring payments. For the sake of completeness, let us mention a couple of prerequisites:

  1. Your temple or synagogue must have an account with our gateway that offers both card and ACH. For more information on that topic, please send us a note at [email protected], and we’ll guide you through the setup process.
  2. There must be a charge, debit, or amount owed, to which the recurring payment would be applied.

The following video shows, not only the new recurring payments function, but actually everything that the member portal can do. Feel free share this post and video, especially if you have members who may want to have an online account.

Member portal end-to-end.

Recurring payment via member portal
Recurring payment via member portal

Segment the Turnaround Document

Our larger customers may be interested in the capability to segment the turnaround document.

What is the turnaround document, you might wonder? For background, please have a look at this video. This is a document that holds all the fields we have collected for families, individuals, and Yahrzeits. The goal is to send each document to its respective family; and then the family would “turn around” that document with additions and corrections.

For large congregations, the program might well time out. In that case, you would want to take advantage of the new ability to segment the turnaround document — to run it by range of letters. It defaults to “A” to “Z.” If that’s too many, you might try entering something like “A” to “D”, then “E” through “H”, etc.

Here you may watch a video to see how this feature works.

Turnaround document selections

Private Notes

ShalomCloud now has the ability to create private notes.

For a few years now, ShalomCloud has had the ability to create notes. The note creator can assign a priority, a due date, and can assign a user to the note.

However, until now, anyone with the “families” permission could read the notes. With this change, only the “assigned to” person can see the body of the note. For anyone else, the topic appears, but the body clearly shows the note as private.

To see this feature in access, please access this video.

Marking notes as private