New feature: role within family

If you wish to gain a finer designation of family members, beyond what can be inferred from age alone, we now offer a field that we’re calling Role within Family.  Typical values would be Parent, Minor child, Adult child, and perhaps others such as Elderly parent.

You may then use these fields within the queries and reports–for example, to find all the minor children not enrolled in religious school.

Below is a 3 1/2 minute video illustrating the feature.

Produce a Synagogue Directory in Three Clicks

Creating your annual directory can be a daunting challenge.

No longer: After you’ve designated your format using the ShalomCloud Letter Templates, you are now able to product a directory in three mouse clicks.

Have a look at this three-minute video to see the end-to-end process.

ShalomCloud_Directory from Norman Snyder on Vimeo.

Field selection on Yahrzeit queries

Some time ago, in response to how crowded with fields was the Member query, we made available check boxes by which the user could select which fields should appear on the reports and spreadsheet downloads.

The same selection ability is now available on the Yahrzeit queries.  This makes for a more device-responsive, cleaner appearance.
Yahrzeit_field_selection

 

New Chart–Membership Units by Year

A common, but non-trivial, question that constantly occurs is simply this: “How many membership units do we have?”

ShalomCloud answers this question two ways, in seconds.

  1. By a bar chart that shows membership counts going back twenty years
  2. By a table that shows members joined, members resigned, and membership count, by year.
Chart_of_families_by_year
Chart of families by year

member_by_year_table

Next set of Yahrzeit Enhancements

Realizing that this is fairly dry material, we nonetheless wish to mention several small enhancements within the Yahrzeit capability:

  1. ShalomCloud has for some time offered “tags,” alternatively dubbed “attributes,” for Households and individuals.  Yahrzeits can also now be associated with tags….which means you can also query and report by those tags.
  2. If your congregation maintains plaques for Yahrzeits, you might be interested in a new query–displaying all the Yahrzeits with no plaque.
  3. In the same vein, the application has long been able to show and display Yahrzeits and relationships to people in the congregation.  Now we flip to the opposite question–showing all the Yahrzeits for whom no relationship exists.
  4. Next occurrence of Yahrzeit, as of a user-entered date.

 

 

Handy keyboard shortcuts

Here is a small collection of keyboard commands that potentially could save the reader time, compared to constantly alternating between the mouse and the keyboard.  I can’t guarantee that these will work on all operating systems, all browsers, but it’ll take about two seconds to find out in each case:

  1.  Instead of pointing and  clicking to your browser’s address bar, just use <Ctrl>L       .
  2. Instead of scrolling to the bottom of a long document, whether Word or Google Docs,  use <Ctrl><End>     .
  3. Conversely, if you’re at the bottom of a long document and you want to go back to the beginning, instead of grabbing the scroll bar and dragging up, use <Ctrl><Home>.
  4. To go back one screen in your browser, Instead of grabbing the mouse and aiming at the small back arrow, use <Alt><left arrow>.
  5. If you’re fond of tabs in your browser, instead of clicking to go from tab to tab, use <Ctrl><Page up> or <Ctrl><Page down>  .

If this list looks daunting, I’d suggest picking any one of these shortcuts, and trying it for a week.  It’ll quickly become a habit, and you’ll find yourself incrementally more productive.

 

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.

Multi-donations on one letter

For some time, ShalomCloud Synagogue Management Software has been able to produce acknowledgment letters for contributions–not only to the contributor, but also to any congregation members whom the contributor wishes to let know.  For example, if Allen Abelson contributes $18 to the General Fund in honor of the birthday of Sam Silverstein, Mr. Abelson would typically like for Mr. Silverstein to be notified about the contribution.

However, there’s been a less-than-optimal facet of this process: namely that, if a payment included contributions to several different funds, the contributor would receive a separate letter for each granular contribution.

The enhancement implemented on 7/9/2017 groups such line items into one letter to the contributor.  Letters to “Notifees” remain as they were.

A few new fields

Ever-responsive to customer requests, we have added a few fields.  The reader will note that, when we add fields, that implies that, not only do we carry them in the database, but also

  1. They are present in spreadsheet uploads, for bulk data input.
  2. They are present in spreadsheet downloads.
  3. They are available for searching.

Within the Member person records, we have added marital status and maiden name.  Thus, if you’re planning to run a young singles night, you could ask the system for a list of those with marital status of ‘single’ who are under the age of –you pick it– …And then email those Members from within the software.

Within Yahrzeit records, we have added Hebrew name and maiden name.

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.