Copy email and letter templates

It is now possible, and rather easy, to copy email and letter templates.

In both cases, the procedure is simple. Under the Configuration menu, go to either letter templates or email (a.k.a. multipurpose) templates. From the list, choose the new link that says Copy.

The system will duplicate the document, appending a -copy to the name. You can then edit the document as usual.

Here’s a short video showing the feature in action.

Statements by Email

We now have the ability to send statements by email.

Button to send statements by email.

Taking our cue from banks and brokerages, we’ve opted not to send the actual statement by email. Instead, we send a rather long link that, when selected, takes the congregant directly into that family’s statement.

There are a few very simple setup steps:

  • Make an email template named send_statement_link.  This is an ordinary email template–so that you can insert pictures, and other customized language. The only requirement is that the template contain, in squiggly braces, the phrase {magic_link}.
  • When you go to produce the statements by email, you may choose to send the links to only certain roles, such as Parent or Adult. And, as with letter statements, you can select specific billing statuses, and/or certain family attributes.
  • Do know that the system will tell you any families for whom there are no email addresses. In that case, without leaving the screen, you can print statements for those families. Then, before the next statement period, perhaps you could work on retrieving email addresses for those families lacking one.

Here’s a video that takes you through the process.

One Donation Letter per Household

Frequently, when congregants make contributions, they include requests to inform others about the gift. Until now, the system dutifully created precisely one letter per individual. For example, if David Davies contributed $18 to a fund, and wished to inform Earl Everett and Eva Everett about the contribution, the system produced a letter to David (as the contributor), a letter to Earl, and a letter to Eva.

With this change, the system recognizes those cases where the honorees reside in the same household, and produces one letter per household

This video illustrates a case, where, in fact, the last names of the honorees are different, but reside in the same household. You’ll see in the video one letter to the honoree’s household.

Letters for Families

You can now produce letters for families, driven by the family/household query.

ShalomCloud has offered a number of different ways to communicate with your congregation. For example, you can send Yahrzeit reminders by letter or by email. Similarly, you can send acknowledgments for contributions by letter or email. When reaching out to individual members, you can use email or text messaging. Finally, at the family/household level, you could print envelopes or labels.

However–one thing was missing–namely, the ability to create a general letter, intended for either the entire congregation, or to a selection of families. We have filled that gap.

Here’s a short (3:39) video illustrating the new capability, Letters for Families.

Creating Letters from the Family Query

Synagogue Directory: More Choices

When producing a synagogue directory, you’ll now have a few more choices.

In the initial roll-out of the synagogue directory, there weren’t any options. The program simply created a document of all your Active families, in two columns, on 8 1/2 by 11 paper. Just three mouse clicks would create that directory.

Since that initial announcement, we’ve add a few things. First, you can select which families to include, based on the billing status [Active, Associate, Friends, etc]. Also, you can select by family attribute(s). Moreover, there is a special attribute to exclude a family entirely from the directory.

The newest set of options provides one more selection criteria. If you’ve marked your individual members with the Role within Family (see this link for details), you can indicate which roles to include. For example, if you’ve marked roles such as Adult and Child, you can specify that only Adults would appear in the directory.

As mentioned above, the directory had been available in one format, and one format only–8 1/2 x 11 paper, in two columns. Now, you can designate your paper size (for example, 8 1/2 inches tall, 5 1/2 inches wide), and whether you want a one-column format or a two-column format.

Directory options
Directory Options

This video (8 m, 18s) runs through these options.

Certainly, if you’d like to help setting up these directory templates, feel free to reach out to us.

Setting Up the User Portal

Some of you may be aware of the logged-in area of ShalomCloud, but may be wondering how you’d go about setting up the user portal. Wonder no more.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the user portal, this is a place where logged-in users can:

  • See and maintain their own household information.
  • Review any Yahrzeits connected to any member of that household.
  • Pull a financial statement for any period of time. The statement shows any outstanding balances, and shows any payments in the designated period of time.
  • Issue payments–pledge payments, contributions, school tuition, for example.

Setting up the portal is a three-step process:

  1. First, create an email template, that will be used to send each new user information on how to log in.
  2. Then, select the audience, and click the orange button.
  3. Last, review the results.

Here is a six-minute video that steps you through the end-to-end process.

Setting up the User Portal from Norman Snyder on Vimeo.

Here are some articles showing what logged-in users can do.

Portal user selection
Selecting users for the portal

The Turnaround Document

Scattered through these posts are some citations of the Turnaround Document. The Turnaround Document, to be brief, is a way for you to send letters or emails to your congregation, with all the information you have on file for each family. The document shows:

  • Household information, such as physical address and primary phone number
  • Information on each member, such as email, cell phone, birth dates, occupations, Hebrew names, etc.
  • A list of all the Yahrzeits related to any member of that family.

With this latest change, you can now select, by family status, who will receive the letter/email. For example, if you have statuses such as ‘Active’ and ‘Affiliate’, you can target just those two.

One more thing–the congregants can now specify on the turnaround document whether they want their cell phone numbers and/or email addresses suppressed on a membership directory.

Selections for the Turnaround Document

Country Code

You can now enter a country code as part of the address for your congregational families.

In most cases, you likely do not want to designate a country. That is, if the mailing address is in the same country as your synagogue, it is best to not designate a country.

In contrast, let’s say that your temple is in a northern climate in the United States, and you have a family or two with a winter home in Costa Rica. You would want to designate a country (CRI in this example) for that seasonal address. Or the opposite–your congregation is in Florida, and you have folks with a Canada address, either as their primary or seasonal address. You’d put CAN as a country code.

If the system sees a country code, it will print a separate line on envelopes and labels to show it.

New drop-down selection for country

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.

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