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Scripts [more or less] as Used in the Video Tutorials
- Click these links to see the TEXT of the Tutorials
- What IS a Contact Database?
- Lesson 1 - Brief Overview
- Lesson 2 - Basic Searching
- Lesson 3 - Create a Record
- Lesson 4 - More Complex Searches
- Lesson 5 - Printing Basics
- Lesson 6 - Recording a Payment
- Lesson 7 - Recording Payments – in more complex situations
- New Features for Fall 2010
What IS a Contact Database?Cat’s Meow, a contact access tool, is a database designed to hold information about all the people your non-profit organization comes into contact with: Members, Potential members, volunteers, organizations you interact with (and those you would like to interact with). Everybody, from mainstay Grantors to the Good Folk who keep your wastebaskets emptied; everybody with whom you come in contact belongs in this database.
Use Cat’s Meow to manage the information you have about all these people. It will help you know who is due for a thank you letter or a solicitation; which volunteers do what kind of work and how many hours they are giving. Print letters and tax-worthy receipts. Create reports to sort, total, and service all manner of accounts; help the bookkeeper correlate bank deposits; provide statistics for grant applications; make a list of those eligible to vote at the annual meeting, etc.
See more Features of Cat’s Meow at www.Suemap.com/CatsMeowLinks/catsmeow.html
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Lesson 1 OverviewHi. I’m susan peter and in this set of short videos we at Cat’s Meow will demonstrate the basic use of the Cat’s Meow database.
Each video will focus on a particular feature. In addition you can use the help buttons found on most screens, and there is also a set of word documents designed to walk the novice user through common tasks.
Lesson 1 – an overview
This is the opening screen. We’ll start with the first Help button as I click to open it. It provides an introduction and helps you get started, much like this video does. Notice that this screen can be moved around if you grab the blue bar at the top and drag.
For now I’ll close it with the x in the upper right corner of the help screen.
A couple of other buttons, you can explore on your own. Hot Tips has general information useful throughout the database. Version history has a date. You’ll click on it to see what features have been newly added.
At the bottom here is a link that will take you to one of the word documents I mentioned. It is a short list of common tasks with reminders of how often they should be attended to. Each task has a hyperlink to more detailed instructions.
With these behind us (but not forgotten), we move to the heart of the system: Work with Contacts. A click takes us to the Search screen. You will almost always start right here. Lesson two is entirely devoted to the use of the Search screen, so here, in the overview, I must say a quick hello/goodbye as I close it with either the close button, or the x in the upper right corner.
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Back at the opening screen, I will now click on Work with Groups. This is a very special feature that enables customized hierarchical grouping of the people or organizations in your database. A separate video explains how to create and populate groups, and how the database is organized to help you interact with these special sets of people. For now I will close this screen.
Call Log is a stand alone feature for tracking incoming phone calls or even walk-in visitors. More on this later too. -- This opening screen has 3 tabs. I’ve just reviewed the contents of the top one labeled Main Menu. Now I’ll open the middle one. Procedures. To get a glance at it.
This center tab is different from the other two in that is has subtabs. 3 subtabs. Reports is on the left and is currently open, showing a list of options. It is so wondrous that I made two help buttons for it. – one for membership reports, the other for accounting reports.
Mailings is the center tab. These are some of the mailings options. Remember this is just the overview. Like the other screens I’ve shown you, I’ll be covering this in detail later in its own video, and of course, it has it’s own help button for when you prefer to get your answers that way.
The third of the Procedures tabs is Quality. In addition to the functions shown, a special button on this page provides suggestions on how to enter and maintain good quality data. --- Almost done. The last of the three primary tabs is Maintenance. This tab is password protected because somethings should be changed only by a person who has a good understanding of the database. While we can see the buttons, and therefore, somewhat, the contents of the Maintenance screen, without the password we will not be opening any of these buttons. Naturally, these secrets will be kept until a later video.
Cat’s Meow database – the Contact Access Tool described in this presentation was developed by Joseph and Susan Peter of Beaverton Oregon. It is offered as is and without warrenty. Email email@example.com or call 971-235-3374 to talk to susan for more information regarding its availability.
Thanks for watching!
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Lesson 2 Basic SearchingPress the enter key or use your mouse to click Work with Contacts. Either works. Pause the slide show by clicking “S” to read the instructions here, if you want. Click the “s” again or “enter” to restart the show.
We can click the Find button first. This is the simplest search. It places no limitations, and therefore finds all the records.
Here it is …. a list of all the records in the database. The upper portion of the search screen remains as you left it.
The little numbers over here on the right indicate how many records were found. I have 245 records of fake data.
Now we can do another search, one that is limited in some way. Click in the “Last Name” field, type in a “p” and click the enter key.
Now we’ll place an “S” in the first name field. Click to see what this search finds.
Note that Susan and Joe Peter are now highlighted in black. Click “View/Edit Contact” to open their record.
We are now viewing a single record. This page contains all we know about this person or organization.
Note, there are 5 tabs here. Each may contain additional information of the record.
In a moment we will be closing this screen. Note that the button says Close. Your changes are saved as soon as you make them. If you want to undo your changes, use the Cancel button.
First, let’s look at the 3 arrow buttons to the left. They give you extra quick access to the other records found in this search -- the last names that start with P. Try them out sometime. When I click the small drop arrow, I see a complete list of the records found in the “search for last names that start with P”. Now we’ll place an “S” in the first name field. Click to see what this search finds.
Do you see Susan Peter? See how many records?
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When we type my entire first name, S-U-S-A-N, we limit the search even more, and find yet fewer records. More is less. Sometimes you want to limit to a specific known record, as in this case, but more often you will be searching to find someone ….and the first 3 letters of a name take less time to type, and are usually enough.
Before we start a new search, we will be sure to click the RESET button. It clears all the search fields and moves the focus (the cursor) back to the last name field, so I can just start typing. Let’s pretend I don’t know how to spell my last name. I type Peters, with an S at the end and hit the enter key. I am not on the list. I can add Susan to my search terms, and I am still not on the list. Remember, more is less. So do less work (type fewer characters) and improve your odds of finding what you want.
This is a handy time to show you another feature of this database. It searches both first name fields at the same time. The primary record and the secondary first names are searched at the same time. Likewise, if there are 2ndary records (a roommate or a spouse with a different last name are the most common examples), they are also searched whenever the last name field is searched. You don’t have to remember whether Henrietta Brown and Jimmy Breslin are listed with her as primary, or with him as primary.
Click on the Help button; scroll down to see all the topics covered. You can scroll by dragging the bar on the right with your mouse, or clicking the “Page Down” button on your keyboard.
It is ok to leave these Help instructions open, to refer to, while you return to the Search Screen. To move it out of your way, click and drag the blue bar at the top that says, “Help: Searching Contacts”.
When you are done looking at the help screen, you may close it with the x in the corner.
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Lesson 3 Create a RecordI will be starting at the Basic Search Screen. Where lesson 2, narrated by my daughter Mary, left off.
Before you create a new record, first search to verify the database doesn’t already contain a record for that person. The program will not normally allow you to make a duplicate record where all 4 fields are exactly the same. All 4 fields being first, middle and last names, and organization name. But you don’t want to waste your time, and a confusing duplicate record can occasionally be created, in spite of this anti-duplicating feature.
Now, I click the Create New Record button and enter data, tabbing from field to field. While capitalization is not relevant while searching, when I enter data, correct Capitalization is essential if I want to produce good looking, properly addressed letters. This program will not automatically capitalize for you.
Most of the data will come to you ready to insert: Name, Address, etc. However, there are several notes on this page for you to read and heed: 2nd last name, salutation, and number of lines for the address block. The rules: 2nd last name only if it is different; salutation only if the default (first names.. ie Bob and Marilyn) isn’t suitable; and only 4 lines will fit on the address label, so don’t use both address line fields unless it is truly necessary.
Membership status is another that may be non-obvious. Don’t leave it blank. Use Other, if you are unsure.
Expiration Date is one of this database’s primary ways of monitoring. Suggested policy: give potential members 6 months, Friend/complimentary 2 years. (This is the status we suggest you give health care workers, politicians, community leaders, etc. – folks with whom YOU want to remain in contact), and Donors 5 years. Don’t leave this field blank unless perhaps it is the landlord.
Check boxes is another feature I’ll take a moment with. Is this a record for someone in the government – whether elected or employed? The media perhaps? A health or mental health provider? Place check marks accordingly – no limit.
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Is this a record for a neighboring Affiliate, or one of your favorite contacts at National or state? Use the Affiliate checkbox.
If this person has provided an email address, have they indicated how frequently they wish to receive email? Almost everybody with an email address may wish to receive the monthly or quarterly newsletter, but a somewhat smaller set may also want to receive bi-weekly action notices. Some may want to receive a paper copy to place in their waiting room, in addition to an email version of the newsletter. These check boxes allow this flexibility.
If they are to receive the newsletter, and wish to have it come to them in paper form, be sure Paper Newsletter is checked. This checkbox field is used elsewhere by the program to generate address labels in zip code order.
Does this record lack critical data to be complete? (zip code, apartment number?) If you don’t have time to find this info right now, mark it as Needs Attention so you can find it again, quickly, later.
Don’t add anything to the inactive check box or date field. They are managed automatically by another function.
Telephone fields are designed to hold extra characters. Do everyone a favor, and if known, identify them as home, cell, fax, work or office, etc, There is room to id them as Bs cell or M’s cell to differential between Bob or Marilyn’s cell numbers. There is room for extension numbers too. And The Fax field is really just another telephone field; seems like you can never have too many these days. Complete this field the same as you would any other phone field and your data will be ok.
Email field: you can string multiple emails together here, just separate them with a comma and space, or semicolon and space. No notes in this field.
Comments box: Type what won’t embarrass you if it gets read by the subject or “owner” of the record. Notes are typically only useful if dated and signed. I recommend: control+semicolon to automatically insert the current date, then initials, and a semicolon to close this particular note. We anticipate making this field searchable, but it is not yet.
I like to paste the “old “ address into this box when a new address is being provided, or when mail comes back as undeliverable/moved. This way the old data is not lost, but neither is the mistake of mailing to this bad address repeated.
In the Comments box: Control + enter will allow you to manually move to a new line.
National ID numbers for primary and secondary memberships (ie. Voting and Family members). Room for 10 digits in each field.
That’s all you need to know about Creating New Records. Unless of course, a check was enclosed. In that case, you’ll want to continue on to the Video about entering payments, and using the other 4 tabs found on this form.
Thanks for watching!
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Lesson 4 More Complex SearchesThis is a continuation of Lesson 2, Searching the Database, and includes details on using checkboxes ……. wildcards….and dates. We see Cat’s Meow opening screen, and go to Work with Contacts to start our search.
Checkboxes: Checkboxes have 3 states: Null, On, and OFF. They arrive null ( which is “inactive”). A spacebar or mouse-click sets them to on, a second spacebar or mouse-click turns them off. Off is not equal to Null. Null is gray, off is white. OFF means “everything but”. Once off, the form needs to be reset to return a checkbox to the null (or gray) state.
Here are a couple of examples: Check Provider and find 21 records. Reset. Now check Government to find 5 records. Now place a 2nd checkmark in Provider so both are checked. There are 2 records where both are true. These records represent people who are in the Government and are also Providers. Now eliminate the government records by going past the checkmark to a white filled checkbox. We find 19 records for non-government providers.
Wildcards Wildcards are useful in most of the other search fields. An asterisk, or star, is the wild card, and can be used 2 ways. Alone in a box, it means “the presence of anything in this field”. In front of other characters it means anything, can precede these other characters.
An illustration of this 2nd use: A shortened version of a name. “Is he in our database as Drew or his full name, Andrew?” *drew will find him. Anther example: “I think I remember that volunteer lives on cherry street”: type *cher so you don’t miss him. See the other records that search found? Cherie. And see the cher in Thatcher?
Here is the use of the star alone. “My phone list doesn’t need to include people for whom we have no phone numbers. So I place a * in the telephone field before I design the rest of my search.”
The other Wildcard is the minus asterisk or minus star, easier to say. It has only a single use…alone, but can be used in any field. I use it to look for empty fields. So, for the situation opposite of my phone number search above, “ If I want to sort out folks without email addresses, I use the -* in the email field. “ Most commonly, I place a minus star in the Membership Status field to find this particularly common data error, and see who has no status around here.
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Date Range boxes – I did mention that Expiration Dates are important in this database. Here is one place we use them “manually”…. As compared to being used by the program internally.
This pair of date range fields is very user friendly. They are informal and also happily accept words or numbers, dashes or slashes. January 2, 2010, or 1-2-10, or Jan 2 10 work equally well. No year? No problem. It defaults to the current year.
It is important however, to note the word TO between the boxes. A search includes the date in the first box, but does not include the date in the second box. The search goes TO, not through. Use this to your advantage. Search the month of August by putting in 8-1 TO 9-1. Sept 1 will not be included, but all the days of August will be.
Examples: Use these date range boxes to select a set of Prospective Members who have expiration dates for the previous 4 months. Send them a solicitation letter. Using these fields, we similarly print custom membership application forms. Not just for prospective members or our Friend/Complimentary “members”, but also when we send out Membership Renewal Letters. You’ll see lots more on this topic in another video.
Date range boxes are used to determine who is a current member, and what our membership count is. Here they are: “Members who have an expiration date starting no earlier than the first day of this month. “ There is no need to fill in the 2nd date range box in this case. Don’t forget to also search for Living Lightly (or Open Door) members with this same date, to get a full count of all members.
Click The Search Help button for more examples of how to use the Date Range boxes.
When you have the set of contacts you were searching for, go to Print or Compose letter to do more. ( I have a video on how to use those functions too. I trust you are not surprisied.)
There are 20 searchable fields on this page. The possible combinations are plentiful. Be creative, and Thanks for watching!
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Lesson 5 Print BasicsThe Print – Export Button at the bottom of the Search Screen will now act on the records you have found as a result of your search. These are the records now listed in the large white field above this Center Button.
Click on it to see the actions you can choose from. You can print one or more of the several “Reports” that list these selected contacts. Or you can print Mailing Labels. Or, Membership forms.
Alternatively you can Export these records to Excel, or MS Word, if you want to sort, analyze, arrange or select, or do something else creative with this data --Something beyond the many other options we offer within Cat’s Meow.
Reports: The shape of the button indicates the orientation of the report you are about to print. Some of these reports will show many fields, others just a few.
Labels. Our label making feature presumes the use of standard label stock, “30 labels per sheet”.
When you click Mailing Labels, you’ll be asked how many you want to skip. This is a handy device for minimizing the waste of expensive label stock. Looking at your most recent leftover, a partially used sheet of labels, simply count how many labels are no longer available to be printed on. (In order for this to work, they must all be at one end of the sheet). Then record that number in the dialog box and click OK. The sheet displayed on your computer leaves those skipped labels blank. If you have more than a few labels to be printed, the program simply continues on to another sheet. This new “unfinished sheet” is where you can start the next time you have labels to print.
If this seems too complicated now, please at least give it a try. It is really a very easy to use feature. I know you’ll like it once you’ve tried it. This same efficient label-printing feature is found throughout Cat’s Meow.
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A word of caution. It is possible to generate 5 lines of address but, most of the time, only 4 will fit properly on your label stock. Be cautious when entering data to not use both street address lines and the organization name field, and watch for problems before you print. It takes only a moment to quickly view these labels on the screen to verify that every one has a full address, but not “overfull.” (Alternatively, depending on your starting place, to minimize missing addresses, use * in the first address field to verify only contacts with addresses are being included.)
In virtually all situations where labels are printed, they are printed in alphabetical order -- except under the Mailings Tab, where the newsletter labels are printed in Zip Code order., something the post office encourages for mass mailings.
When I click on this button, I find a Membership form, already filled out for each of the contacts listed. Actually, you might see only one, but it is the top one. Use the navigation buttons at the bottom of the form to scroll through and see a count of all the customized forms you have created. Send to the printer when you are ready.
These work equally well for New or Renewing Members, and should be included in every personalized membership solicitation letter. Why? 2 reasons. ONE, It shows the recipient what information we currently have for them, and invites them to update or fill in missing data.
The second good reason: When the form is returned (hopefully with money), we know for certain that this person is already in our database. This reduces the time that will otherwise be spent searching for an existing entry or attempting to duplicate a record.
Exporting When you choose to export, you will get a small reminder on the way. It tells you to select the data on the Access datasheet, then copy it. You will then open MSExcel and paste. Here are 2 little helpful hints: The quick way to select the entire Access table, is to click on the empty cell in the upper left corner.
You may need to use the keyboard shortcuts to do your copy and paste. Control + c simultaneously, to copy; and control + v to paste.
These are the basic print choices in Work with Contacts. The choices in Work with Groups are extremely similar and will not be covered separately. Printing letters however, will be.
Thank you for watching!
This video and the information therein is copyrighted by Joe and Susan Peter of Beaverton Oregon. Please contact us via www.suemap.com. Thanks to Joe for providing the background music on his keyboard, and son in law Josh for providing the fast computer to create these video files.
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Lesson 6 Recording a PaymentGenerally, a payment will be recorded when someone joins NAMI, renews a membership, or donates money. These payments often come accompanied with a membership application form. Sometimes donations are actually a regular monthly or quarterly grant coming from the County or another organization.
When one of our Pre-completed membership forms comes back to us in the mail, it is indication that this person is already in our database. This is one important reason to include a custom membership form with each solicitation mailing: it is one more safeguard against accidentally creating a duplicate record. However, in order for this form to be effective this way, it needs to be seen by the person doing the data entry, and preserved for a period of time.
Therefore, When we receive a new or renewing membership payment or a donation check, I suggest making a photocopy of the application form and check, preferably together onto a single sheet of paper. If there is no application, then the check can be photocopied with any accompanying informal note or perhaps the face of the envelope showing return address and postmark. The goal is to have, for each payment record, a single 81/2 by 11 sheet of paper with a photocopy of all the info they sent to us, shown on it. whoever opens the mail should typically be the person to make this photocopy and file it in the Database manager’s inbox. I also like to see a "rec'd date" and initials on the upper right corner of the photocopy, so we know how long ago the mail was opened and processed.
Often the bookbookeeper wants to have a second copy made at the same time, for her data entry procedure.
The folder eventually holding this set of photocopies created for the Cat’s Meow database manager, is one of a dozen or so folders for paper files that I strongly encourage you to create and maintain. More specifics on that topic in another video….
Now, With your photocopy at hand, open the relevant record. If the payment is for a membership, your first attention should be to the Membership Status field and then the Expiration Date field. Changes to these fields are easily forgotten, so adjust them now, before moving on to the payments tab.
Usually payments come as checks, and – when this is the case, fill in the fields as they are labeled: Date on check, Check Number, Paid to, Membership Amount, New Member check box, Donation Amount, and Fund Type. Total completes itself of course and, in this most typical situation, you will not be filling in the last field, the “Date Thank you sent” field, at this time.
Remember to tab across from field to field as you complete the payment record. It is the easiest way, by far, to fill in payment data. As you go, use the space bar to place or remove a check in the New Member field.
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Returning to the payments tab…. Now we will enter data, tabbing across as we enter it… Date on Check is important. Do not leave it blank or use the current date. The program automatically makes a record of today’s date (so you don’t need to). Each of these 2 dates will be used in the Accounting Backup and Financial Analysis Reports.
The Check number field should never be left blank. Check numbers are important accounting references, but in addition to that, the special thing about this field here is that it can also be used for words. “Cash” comes to mind. But, if an online payment processor is involved (ie Paypal or JustGive), this would be the appropriate word to fill in here. This would be the situation probably only if you have set up on-line donation opportunities on your local Affiliate’s website. Paid to: is always Affiliate, unless we are talking about a payment made to state or national NAMIs (which is typically on-line). This I will cover in Lesson 7. covering More complex payment situations.
Membership Amount – record just the portion of the check that would cover your standard membership rate. Typically $35 or an Open Door/Limited Income membership of $3 or $5. Any remaining value of the check should be recorded as Donation Amount. And unless otherwise specified by the donor, probably the fund type is General.
If this is a new member, don’t forget the check mark. Use the Spacebar to keep your fingers on the keyboard for this action.
Again, Total completes itself and, in this typical situation, you will not be filling in the last field -- the “Date Thank you sent” -- field, at this time.
As you come to the end of the payment record line, you may get an error message. If you enter a Donation Amount, Fund types becomes a required field. And you have to use one of the Fund Types your affiliate has listed here. If you need to create another item in this list, you can do so only under the Maintenance Tab > Edit Funds List..
Here in Maintenance is where Fund Types can also be inactivated (to shorten the drop down list), or permanently deleted (which is not something normally appropriate to do, unless the fund type in question has never been used. Otherwise to delete one will cause you to lose data).
You are done. On your 8 ½ x 11 photocopy, your source for this entry, note in the upper right corner (or somewhere) the what, when, and who.. DE for Data Entry, today’s date, and your initials. File this either in a folder for Completed DE, or a folder such as Waiting for Verification.
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Later, when you return to this Payments tab, you’ll see the most recent record at the top of the list of payments, even though you may have been going to the bottom of the list to enter it.
Now, a little bit about that Date Thank You sent field, and how and when to complete it.
After the Thank you Letters have been printed, signed and mailed (general information on Thank you letters is in another video), you will need to go back to each of these records and enter a “thank you date” to prevent redundant thank you letters from being created.
Here is one shortcut to this procedure that uses Groups. In yet another video I will go into more detail on creating, using, and populating groups, and in particular, the temporary groups useful for this situation. But For now, I will explain briefly:
Create a temporary group labeled something like “Temp Hold for Thank you Letters”, then populate this group with each contact as you record their payment. Later, when you have sent the thank you letters (which include a receipt), open this group to quickly access just the records that need the thank you date added. Delete the members of the group when you are done with this step and this Temp Hold group will be ready to use the next time you are entering payments.
Remember, one of the most critical functions of this database is to record payments and be sure people are properly credited with a new expiration date, membership status, and thank you letter. Please follow these instructions carefully.
Thanks for Watching! Go to www.suemap.com to find more info about Cat’s Meow, including the written scripts for these videos.
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Lesson 7 Recording Payments – in more complex situationsWelcome back for another lesson on using Cat’s Meow.
This lesson describes a Stored Procedure. That means, if you follow my advice here and use these procedures for entering payments as I outline them, the various reports that depend on properly input financial data will function as intended. Can I assume you have previously watched Lesson 6, that covers the basics of entering Payment data? Now we’ll cover Ejoins – the less typical situation.
When a membership payment has been made through National, it is known as an Ejoin. When this happens your affiliate receives an email from National with all the specifics needed to create or update a member record. All except the National ID number. (The Web-ID number they provide is not useful to us. Don’t bother to record it in the database.) The date the membership was created will be used in place of date on check, and “Ejoin” E-J-O-I-N, should be typed into the “check number” field.
“Payment to” is a drop box that limits the choices to Affiliate, State, and National. While you chose “Affiliate” when the payment was being made directly to your own local organization (lesson 6), now for an Ejoin, choose “National” by typing an N . You are done. (unless this is a new member. Then use the spacebar to place a checkmark in the box. )
Wait a minute…we skipped something right?…..Yes. We left a Zero in the Member Amount field. We have not yet received their money and it will create bookkeeping confusion if we record it here. So don’t. But don’t worry, this works. We will create a new place to hold the money when it arrives.
Any future review of this record will find the word Ejoin in the Check number field as indication that a payment was made. As before, On your 8 ½ x 11 notice of the ejoin, your source for this entry, note in the upper right corner (or somewhere) the what, when, and who.. DE for Data Entry, today’s date, and your initials. File this in a folder for Completed DE.
Our standard thank you letters include a receipt, but these Ejoins received an instant receipt online when they made the payment. So, place them in a special group designed just for these ejoin members. Do it now, while their record is still open. It is a temporary group you made before you started this process…labeled “Ejoin Thank you letters needed.” Click and they are in.
When you have completed this batch of ejoins, you will open this group, and send them all a “Welcome to your local Affiliate” email. After the email is sent, you can quickly click through the list – noting in each person’s payment record that the thank you has now been sent. Depopulate the group when you are done so it will be ready to hold the next batch of Ejoin members. Do this very special set of ”EJOIN” Thank you letters first, before running the more general set of Thank yous,. Afterwards, when you go to Mailings to do your “Membership and Donation Thank you Letters,” the only letters waiting to be printed should be the “typical” letters that appropriately do include a receipt.
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As you probably already know, National’s notices of Ejoins arrive fairly promptly, but payment checks, they only arrive quarterly. It is because of this time differential -- between when a person joins and when payment for them is actually received by the affiliate -- that special attention is required in entering this data, and is the reason I am talking about it here. This time difference has a big impact on accounting records, and by entering payment data as I suggest, here in Cat’s Meow, minimizes bookkeeping confusion, time and expense.
When the delayed payments for Ejoins arrive, they will be in the form of a check written by your State organization. (Yeah, just when you thought it was confusing enough.—But distribution of these funds is, naturally enough, made through the NAMI State organizations.)
You will want to create that new place I talked about where all these payments will be recorded. Create a contact to the database with something like Ejoin Dues Reimbursment” in the Organization Name Field. Make a note in the comments box that this record is just for receiving Ejoin membership payments.
Now, go to this special record’s Payment tab. Enter the date and number on that check, payment to Affiliate, total amount of the check, and – in this case – you don’t need to acknowledge payment receipt. In fact you can leave the “Date thank you Sent” field empty if you want, if you check the box that indicates “No thank you” is needed.
When you are entering this data in the payment record for “Ejoin Dues Reimbursment” you may also choose to go to its comments box, and list who the payments were for, as in this example: “Check # 44330188 on 2/16/2011for Ejoins for Jones, Smith, Ellis, and Mouse.”
A chart under the Payment Help button lays out these options. Look it over, and refresh your memory on these suggestions by clicking on it when you are working in the Payments fields.
One last “complex situation”: A variation on the Ejoins is this: On rare occasions a membership payment will be made directly to the State NAMI, and you will be notified. In this case, please type “StateJoin” in the check number field and choose “State” in the “payment to” field. When the check actually arrives, that will be recorded similarly to Ejoins. That is, Create a second special record to hold such State Join payments. We’re Done!
Internal reports, reports to National, Thank you letters, and more, depend on these various fields to be filled in consistently, correctly and completely.
There are indeed other ways to manage these non-standard payments, but none that we have come up with that work so well. For example, if the $15 received from National is placed in the Member Amt field, and we handle it as all other membership payments, then they get a $15 receipt that doesn’t reflect accurately the payment they made. And in total it gives them credit for $50, which isn’t correct either. This method keeps the money accurate and eliminates the need to go back and re-enter financial data at a later date.
Remember, one of the most critical functions of this database is to record payments and be sure people are properly credited with a new expiration date and thank you letter. Only when this is done according to the rules defined here, will all those other reports created by Cat’s Meow be accurate.
Again, Thanks for watching.
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New Features for Fall 2010Please start with me at the Work with Contacts search screen. I’ll walk you through these New features.
New Email preferences: We converted 2 existing checkboxes, and created a third, to now allow a clear definition of who will receive paper newsletters, and who will receive them via email (with the option of both, if both check boxes are marked.) The paper newsletter box triggers a set of labels (printed in zip code order). This set of labels automatically excludes contacts who have been categorized as “inactive”. Remember, to view and print these, go to the Mailings Tab.
A third checkbox is for people who wish to receive additional, frequent e-mailings. This can be used as a default condition if you wish; unchecked this box when individuals complain that they are receiving too much email. Use this third box “in addition” to the Email Newsletter checkbox. In other words, all members and many non-members will have either or both of the Newsletter checkboxes marked (paper, email). Many, but not necessarily all, will also have the “E-alerts” box checked.
A valid email address in the email field is necessary for choices number 2 or 3 to work.
Another New Email Feature: The Compose Letter feature has been redesigned to give the option of combined email and paper mail, so you can save postage while still communicating with all relevant contacts; a message appears telling you how many contacts will be sent emails, and reminding you to print letters and labels for the remaining set of contacts. These will be already sorted out for your convenience.
This new feature in Compose Letter is available for both Work with Contacts and Work with Groups. Use this set of buttons here however, if you want a paper letter and address label for every person in the list.
A last note of clarification here. As before, in W with Contacts, you can specify email preferences as part of your search strategy, and then, if you wish, compose a letter to this set of people. Now however, in both Contacts and Groups, you may compose a letter, and send that letter to both email and non-email recipients. (based on availability of a good address in the email field).
One last new Email feature: Under reports, find a button labeled Email Updates for Listservs. You will be asked to select a range of dates. Any changes to a record since the date you chose will cause the email name for that record to appear on this list. Export it to your listserv so any recently added or modified email addresses will be included in your next listserv mass mailing.
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Internal Membership Reports have been modified a bit. You probably won’t notice the difference.
Datasheets for National exports new member data to Excel; it is patterned to meet NAMI National’s current requirements. Click out Help with Reports to access details, suggestions, and National’s form you can use and reuse (until they change the procedure again).
Monthly Renewal Letter queries were broadened to catch contacts who have been mis-identified in the Membership Status field. For example, if the renewal letters report lists someone as a Prospective Member, please review their record. You will most likely see that they were credited with a membership payment about a year ago, but their Membership Status was not upgraded to Member. Fix this record as appropriate, then continue with your Monthly Renewal Letters.
Address block on all Letters should now align properly with standard window envelopes.
Now, move to the Quality tab, We created the Find Duplicate Records feature. This, like the Check Renewal Dates function, should be used regularly to maintain good quality data.
Back to the Opening Screen: Hyperlinks have been added – on the opening screen and in the Help with Reports screen. One connects to the brief overview “Use Instructions,”
Call Log has been modified to accept any data in any field. If you use this feature, or want to use it, please make sure Susan knows so she can help you customize it.
Expanded Export options – now available in Work with Contacts as well as Work with Groups. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with this feature, if you are not already using it.
We removed the input templates for the National ID numbers. They just got in the way.
A quick review: There were two important new things added to Cats Meow DB this fall: They are: Multiple new email features And it is now (again?) possible to use Cats Meow to create an Excel spreadsheet. This spreadsheet provides New Member Data to NAMI National (or State NAMIs).
Thanks for watching!