Reassign Categories

You are now able to reassign categories for financial transactions. That is to say, if you have an obsolete category, and you wish to move all the activity to a new category. you can now do so in one action.

If you wish, you can delete the old category once the activity moves.

Here’s a two-minute demonstration of this feature.

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.

Payment Portal for Receivables

The payment portal, sometimes called the non-logged-in portal, and sometimes called the contribution portal, has a new wrinkle.

Until now, the portal was purely a means to accept contributions. Now, though, if you do indeed create charges for items such as school tuition or pledges, you’ll see the portal looking for such receivables against which it will apply payments.

Sounds awfully wordy and complicated. Please watch this short (3m, 42s) video to see how this works.

Archive Financial Categories

Primarily to control what appears in the two user portals, you now have the ability to archive financial categories.

What do we mean by “archive?” You might think of it as a way to retire a no-longer-used category. Or, perhaps, you might have categories that you use internally. In fact, if your organization is more comfortable with a term such as “close” or “make private”, we can accommodate that wish quite easily.

The main point is simple–when you archive financial categories, those do not show up in either the general payment screen or the logged-in user portal.

For more background on the portals, please see these articles.

Here is a video (3:40) that shows how to archive a category, and its effect on the contribution portal.

Archiving Financial Categories
Archiving Financial Categories

Contribution Portal — card fees

As seen in the December, 2018 post, you’ve had the option of asking your contributors if they’d like to absorb card processing fees, bundled into their contribution.  As originally set up, you could determine:

  • The percentage to be recovered
  • The per-transaction amount to be recovered
  • The actual phrase or sentence that asks whether the contributor would like to absorb the fee.
  • Your choice as to whether the default would be yes or no.

With today’s change, you’ll have the option of automatically including the fee.  In this case, the contributor would not have the option of declining.

Here’s a short (4 minute) video illustrating how this works.

 

Adjustments to Amounts Owed

To give you another way to handle outstanding pledges, we now provide a way to issue adjustments to amounts owed. Let’s run through a couple of situations where this could be useful:

Situation 1: The family has pledged $1100. Four months later, they send in a check for $600, accompanied by a letter explaining that they’ve moved away and wish to have the rest of the pledge excused. With the presence of the adjustments field, you can record the remaining $500 as an adjustment, which, together with the actual payment, will reduce the amount owed to 0.

In the financial transaction query screen, you can ask the system to show you all adjustments. That could be without a time period, or bounded by a date range, a fiscal year, or any of the other values on the query screen.

Situation 2: Going back to that pledge of $1100–suppose the family has made a $100 payment for five months, which you’ve dutifully recorded, leaving a balance of $600. Now the family suddenly reveals that they’ve joined another synagogue, and wish to have their balance cleared. Here, you can enter a financial transaction, specifying only the $600 adjustment, with nothing in any of the payment boxes.

To complete the story, let us also mention that, parallel to adjustments, there is also available a Financial Assistance transaction. Its arithmetic is the same as an adjustment. Thus, the use of FA vs. Adjustment is largely a matter of semantics. An FA would likely be for situations such as illness or lost job.

Here’s a video (5m, 45s) illustrating a couple of round trips using the adjustment transaction.

Adjustments to Amounts Owed

Donation Acknowledgments

This post discusses a couple of new ways to send donation acknowledgments.

For quite awhile, you could send such acknowledgments via postal mail, using a template in the format of a typical business letter. The structure included things such as insider address, greeting, body, complimentary close, and writer identification. If your synagogue’s letters fit into that mold, then that is probably your best option.

However–if either (a) you prefer to email your contribution acknowledgments, or (b) your template is more involved–say, with officers and titles running down the left side–you can now take advantage of the richer formatting options available under email templates.

In a way, we’re double-dipping here. At the risk of seeming repetitious–you now have three options:

  • Continue to use the venerable letter templates, especially if your letter adheres to the available structure;
  • Create an email template, and use it to email your donation acknowledgments;
  • Leverage the rich formatting of email templates to create a highly customized donation acknowledgment letter.

Here’s a seven-minute video that explains all three options.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a note at [email protected] . We’ll be happy to go over your specific situation and make a recommendation.

Recent Changes

Here in one compressed article is a list of recent changes. Some of these have merited their own independent post. Where that’s the case, you’ll see a link to that article. Otherwise, we’ll show a short explanation of the change.

Financial

On Queries => Financial Transactions, you can now enter a check number, check amount, or both. So, for example, if someone says, “I mailed in check 1234 for $85.00,” you’ll be able to quickly track whether you received and posted that check; and you’ll be able to tell at a glance the categories to which that money was applied.

On Queries => Financial Transactions, if you export data, you’ll see two changes:

  1. The export now contains the family’s formal name
  2. Debits (charges) and Credits (payments) appear in separate columns.

On Financial => Statements, the choice of which statements to print had been limited to either everyone, or any one specific family. The point of the “one specific family” was to handle the case where you may have reapplied a transaction, and wanted to produce an updated statement. Or, of course, if the family did not receive the original statement, and wanted a replacement. Now, as is the case with the directory, you can more finely select who will receive statements. You can select by billing status, and/or select by family attribute.

Membership communications

On Queries => Produce Directory, you can now select which families appear in the directory. You can select by billing status, by family attributes, or a combination. Also, if you mark the family with a special attribute named _EXCL, the program will exclude that household from the directory. Moreover, the Exclude attribute overrides all the other selection criteria.

When sending emails from Queries => Members, you now can choose from your own defined set of sender email addresses, in addition to your logged-in ID. Please see this blog post devoted to this topic.

The Turnaround Document offers the flexibility to either print it or email it. In early January 2019, we added the capability to print the Turnaround Document only for those families with no email address.

Yahrzeits

From Queries => Yahrzeits, you can now produce a formatted report, meant to provide lists of Yahrzeits read from the Bimah. Please see this blog post for details and report options.

In ShalomCloud, each Yahrzeit “notifee” can choose notification by Gregorian date, by Hebrew date, or none. Because of this, we show Yahrzeits by both sets of dates. However, if your congregation has all notifications set to Hebrew date (or none), the Gregorian portion will not appear.

Smarter Contribution Portal

Non-logged-in-portal
Non-logged-in portal

The contribution portal has added a smarter search for contributors who might be Temple members.

What do we mean by that?  First of all, if you watch the video about the non-logged-in portal,  you’ll have the background for this post.  Regardless, let’s squeeze an explanation into a few sentences.

The non-logged-in portal accepts payments and contributions without needing a login. Its biggest advantage–it can identify contributors who are Temple members.  That saves your admin the time of looking up contributors, and manually making entries.

Prior to this change, the portal did a look-up based on email address alone.  If it didn’t find the email address, it created a Family record.

With this change,  the portal tries a few other techniques to find the user.  We shan’t go into the details here.  Let it be known, though, that we’re using more fields entered into the contribution form–with the goal of doing better on finding known contributors.

One other point–suppose that, despite the “smarter” search, the system can’t find the giver, and creates a family record like Smith-1.  Later, you discover this was actually Smith, and you’d like to merge the Smith-1 activity into Smith.  There has been a screen to move that money in one fell swoop.  In addition, we’ve now added a check box to delete the Smith-1 record.

reassign payer
Reassign Payer

Bulk Billing

Our newest feature, Bulk Billing, comes into play when you want to create many receivable transactions, for the same amount, in the same category.

Probably the most typical example would be a pledge drive.  Let’s say you have a standard membership of $1000 and a Young Member rate of $300.  With ShalomCloud, you can designate memberships by billing status, by family attributes, or by some combination.  Then, using this feature, you can create pledges with just a few mouse clicks.

Or, let’s say you’re accepting orders for sets of Lulav and Etrog.  Accordingly, you could create a family attribute called, fittingly, “Ordered Lulav and Etrog.”  As the orders come in, you could simply assign that attribute to the respective families.  When the ordering period closes, you could use the Bulk Billing feature to create a receivable for each order, all at once.

Here’s a video (3m, 25s) that shows how this feature works.

ShalomCloud Bulk Billing from Norman Snyder on Vimeo.