ShalomCloud shopping cart: Now with user-determined prices

Until now, the ShalomCloud shopping cart contained strictly fixed-price items. Shabbat dinners, Lulav and Etrog sets, classes (whether free or not) are some examples.

However, sometimes you’ll have a set of prices for an event, perhaps with various sponsorship levels. Aha, but if anyone wanted to register for the event, but remit something above, or between, the fixed sponsorship levels, you couldn’t do that with the shopping cart. Instead, you’d have to use the donation button.

With this announcement, you can designate shopping cart items that have a “fill-in-the-blank” price.

By the way, your existing shopping cart items are unaffected. By default, they are fixed-price.

This video shows this new capability, both from the back-office perspective, as well as from the “shopper’s” perspective.

shopping cart user pricing
Shopping Cart User Pricing

More Choices for your Tax Letters

With tax season just around the corner, you may be interested in one new tax letter option.

Previously, when you produced tax letters, you had the option to include what we call “source of funds.” Meaning the check number, or last four digits of the card, or some bank account info. You could also omit that column, and simply show the date, the category, and the amount.

If you’d like to view a basic tax letter tutorial, please visit this link.

What’s new? One new choice — instead of the source of funds, you can now choose to show the transaction description — typically phrases such as “in memory of” or “in honor of.”

By the way, this option holds, whether you print and mail the tax letters, or choose to send them via a personalized link in emails.

tax letter option
Tax letter option — show description

Here’s a video depicting this option in action.

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

Search Names on Contributions

Our payment/contribution portal contains an area to designate someone to be notified about a contribution. That has been in place for years. In order to send that acknowledgment letter, the administrator had to pick a name (or names) from a drop-down list. With this enhancement, though, we now offer the ability to search names on contributions, rather than choosing from a pick-list.

Yes, the ability to search names on contributions. The new search box is right above the pick-list. Enter any portion of the last name of the person to be notified; pause one second; and the pick-list will be reduced to only those names that match what was entered.

Here’s a video that shows, first, someone entering a contribution. And, then, the back-office point of view.

Search names on contributions
Pick List by Last Name

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

Dynamic Pull-Down Lists

This feature introduces dynamic pull-down lists. At this point, the feature appears on the financial data-entry screens.

Until now, when you wanted to select people to be notified about a contribution, you had to scroll down the list of all the people in your congregation. And, then, point and click on the one(s) you wanted to notify. Now, you can enter part of a last name. After one second, ShalomCloud reduces the pull-down list to match the name you’ve keyed.

Similarly, for the category of the contribution, you had to point and click. If your categories were fairly small in number, this was not much of a challenge. However, if you have several hundred categories, finding exactly the right one might prove frustrating. Now, you can enter a term, such as “tuition”, into the search box. After one second, ShalomCloud reduces the dynamic pull-down list to match the category you’ve keyed.

To see a video demonstration, access this link.

dynamic pull-down lists

We hope that these two new dynamic pull-down lists will shave a few seconds from each of your efforts to record contributions.

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:

Selected Journal Entry Screen

You can now remove items from the Selected Journal Entry screen.

If you’re a QuickBooks Desktop user, you’re likely familiar with the Selected Journal Entry screen. This panel shows the items posted to ShalomCloud since the last push to QBD. From its inception, you could pick and choose which items you wanted to summarize and send.

However, if for some reason you wanted to permanently remove an item from that screen, you had to contact ShalomCloud support. Otherwise, the item would stay on that screen. Now, though, the right edge of the screen has a link to Remove the item. This does not delete the transaction altogether. Instead, it just marks it with a faux batch code.

On the other hand, if you removed an item and want it put back into the SJE screen, there is a way. Namely, you would do a financial transaction query to find the item, edit it, and check a box to remove that faux batch code.

Here’s a video that shows these features.