Expanded capabilities on acknowledgment letters

ShalomCloud has, from the outset, provided the ability for the congregation to create letter templates, used primarily when acknowledging donations and sending Yahrzeit notifications.  Moreover, the software exposes a letter preview for each contribution letter, which the office can use to override the letter template for that specific missive.

However, until now the letter heading has been fixed per congregation.  With today’s release, both the letter template and the letter preview allow control of the following:

  • The heading text itself, including line breaks
  • Bold lettering anywhere in the heading–by line, by phrase, by word–even by individual character(s).
  • Italics anywhere in the heading–by line, by phrase, by word–even by individual character.
  • Font size–varying anywhere in the heading.
  • Option to center the heading or place it on the left margin.

In addition, several different fonts are now available for the entire letter.

Organizing for the High Holidays

As you’re gathering momentum (or just starting) to prepare for the holidays, allow me to recommend something a tad bold and different, but which should help mightily.

Does this describe your situation? (1) Many events to orchestrate and coordinate; (2) Several people, and several committees, with varying responsibilities; (3) A mix of professional staff, office personnel, clergy, and off-site volunteers, all with different tasks and ideas; (4) a flood of emails roaring across the landscape, some with too narrow an audience, some with too wide an audience.

What to do?  Suggestion–open a Slack channel.  

What is Slack?  It’s a tool to collaborate online.  Everyone involved in planning for the holidays (or for any large event, for that matter), can be a member of the Slack channel, and can post questions and answers, by topic.  For example, you could set up topics such as Seating, Children’s Services, and Assignment of Honors.

Let’s spell out a few advantages of this way of collaborating:

— All communications happen in one place, segmented by topic.

— All content can be searched from one location.

— If there are documents to be shared, that can also be done within Slack–even if you use tools like Google Docs or Dropbox to house them.

— If the need arises for private communication, that can be accommodated within Slack.

— There are iPhone and Android apps for Slack; thus, team members don’t need to be in front of a PC to fully participate.

If your holiday preparations flow smoothly, and coordinating among the widely varied participants poses no challenge–well, keep doing what you’re doing. Otherwise, consider giving this intuitive, popular tool a try.

Please feel free to subscribe to this blog, using the form in the panel on the right.  Or, if you’d like to join our own Slack channel,  synagogue-management.slack.com, drop us a line.

 

 

 

 

 

Recurring Payments Capability Added

We have broadened our payments function to include recurring payments.  There are some rather sophisticated ideas implemented herein:

  1. Validates the card information immediately
  2. Shows you all the unpaid items for a selected family
  3. Drag and drop(!) the order in which you’d like to pay the outstanding items (thus establishing a waterfall).
  4. Select a payment frequency and amount
  5. Optionally declare a maximum number of payments.

From there, the magic unfolds.  As each payment date arrives, the card is charged, of course.  Then, the payment is automatically applied to the outstanding items that you specified in step 3 above.

The system applies periodic payments until either (a) the maximum number of payments is reached, or (b) all outstanding items declared in the waterfall reach a $0 balance.  At that point, the program applies any remaining monies to credit on file, and sends an email to your office personnel to cancel the recurring payment.

As a synagogue back office, you would accomplish all of the above within ShalomCloud.  The actual card activity occurs within Stripe , but ShalomCloud handles the “conversation” with Stripe.

Many systems offer a recurring payment feature–however, you would typically find yourself making decisions on each individual payment as it arrives (“Here’s $100–let me look over the ledger–hmm, what should I apply it to??”).  Not the case here–when you set up the recurring payment, you’d make those decisions during setup.  The activity flows automatically from there.

If we’ve piqued your interest in this capability, please consider subscribing to this blog, by entering your email into the area at the top of the beige-colored box.

Graphs and Charts

Visualization!

ShalomCloud now provides various ways to depict your data.  This initial rollout includes:

  1. Families joining, by year
  2. Pledged amounts and owed amounts, by year
  3. Pie chart of revenue by category
  4. “Burndown” chart–month by month cumulative totals of pledged and paid amounts.

Here’s a five-minute video showing this feature in action.

Import and Export

An opinion based on decades of dealing with programs and users (please forgive the virtual yelling):

It’s your data.  Your should be able to extract it into a spreadsheet at any time.

Too often, purveyors of software make you a prisoner of their environment, because your data is locked inside their database.  As a trivial example, I’ve seen this in a lot of to-do apps.   You might have a hundred items in there, and you may wish to extract them for offline analysis.  “No,” say many vendors.

Continue reading “Import and Export”

Announcing — Member Portal, Part II

As of last post, congregants could update their demographic information–name, address, phone, email, birthday, et al.–and could pull statements for any time interval.

Member portal pull statement

 

Added to that capability, members can enter financial activity directly into the system.

Continue reading “Announcing — Member Portal, Part II”

Have you considered QuickBooks Online?

Apparently many synagogues use QuickBooks for their general ledger, with their chosen synagogue software acting as a subledger feeding into QuickBooks periodically.  While many synagogue leaders understand the benefits of cloud-based synagogue management software, they often cling to desktop-based accounting software.  This is non-optimal.

Continue reading “Have you considered QuickBooks Online?”

Free web hosting for affiliates of URJ

Last week’s post mentioned free web hosting available for affiliates of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism.  Fortunately, there is a parallel offering for affiliates of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).

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Free web hosting for affiliates of USCJ

The reader should be aware that the USCJ (United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism) offers free web hosting for its affiliates.  In addition, they make available about half a dozen free WordPress themes.

Continue reading “Free web hosting for affiliates of USCJ”